Friday, June 10, 2011

Paris and Moret-sur-Loing

Dear Family and Friends

It has been an interesting week to say the least! We left Nogent-sur-Marne on the 31st of May and joined the Seine River to make our way to Paris. The Seine is incredibly busy with peniches (barges) travelling at speeds much greater than we travel so we had to deal with the turbulence. It didn’t help that it was also quite windy so my mal de mer was acting up. Thank goodness we made it to the Arsenal marina when we did!

Calypso moored at the Arsenal
The Monument to the Bastille – built where it formerly stood

The Arsenal is in the 4th arrondissement - very convenient to all the major sites and the métro was on our doorsteps. We were in berth #95 so that gives you an idea of how big it is – over 100 boats at any given time. The neatest thing though is that there are boaters from everywhere – UK, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, The Channel Islands (Guernsey) and of course – drum roll please – Canada. As usual ours was the only Canadian flag to be seen! In the ‘it’s a small world ‘ sense, we met a couple from Guernsey who are friends of the brother of our Windy Poplars neighbours the Meinke’s. Awesome!

My Aunt Jean and Uncle Owen (my Mom’s brother) from near Toronto arrived on June 1st to cruise with us for a week. We stayed in Paris for a few days to give them a chance to recover from jet lag and sightsee. That’s when the trouble started. What we didn’t realize is that it was a week that included a national holiday (Ascension Thursday) and midterm break for both British and then European students. Everywhere we went there were unbelievable lineups so we have many, many pictures of the outside of tourist attractions but the only one we really went into was Sacré Coeur in Montmartre. We walked our little butts off the first day as I had forgotten how far it was from the Eiffel Tower to Musee d’Orsay. We walked 12 MILES that day – talk about pooped. Notre Dame was very close to the mooring so that was an easy visit, we took both the Batobus (water taxi) and the métro to others.

Montmartre’s Sacré Coeur– insanely busy (Phil and Owen are there somewhere)
Artists of Montmartre – Place du Tertre

As we were waiting to take the funicular up to Sacré Coeur sadly my purse was picked and I lost over 200 euros. The good news was that our passports were not taken.  Luckily it was only the food money that was stolen. The beer money was safely tucked in Phil’s wallet! Then later that day my uncle’s pocket was picked but he only lost 100 euros. Our Paris experience was somewhat dampened by both the money loss and our inability to avoid millions of other tourists. The most mind blowing experience though was to go out on a Saturday morning to get groceries and not a store was open! We couldn’t believe it! Can you imagine going shopping in Canada on a Saturday morning and finding nothing open – not on your life! Luckily we had enough canned goods to fall back on until we could get to a store the next day – although finding stores open on a Sunday is challenging in itself.

Famous landmark – Chinagora Hotel at the confluence of the Seine and the Marne

Our first day out from Paris was interesting. As you can imagine the Seine shores are lined with industrial sites – not very pretty. But after about 4 hours we were once again seeing green banks and some lovely villages. Cruising past the Forests of Fontainebleau was gorgeous.

Beautiful houses all along the Forest of Fontainebleau
The trouble came when we wanted to moor for the night. Several supposed moorages didn’t exist as promised (sound familiar?)  so we went much further than we really wanted to. But all that fell by the wayside when we arrived in Moret-sur-Loing. What a stunning little village! Remnants of a medieval fort – parts of the wall and the portal gates remain. The church is 12th century and lots of houses are either ancient stone or tudor style half timbered black/brown and white. The painter Sisley lived here and he used Moret as a subject for many of his paintings. I think we can say that this is the most spectacular village we have ever visited!

St Mammès - Jousting on the water – someone is going to get wet
Moret-sur-Loing - Beautiful building housing the shop of the famous candy
Gorgeous little alleyways

Sisely painted here

Good thing we are enjoying it so much as we are here for several days longer than planned. Guess who’s on strike? Yup, the lock keepers on the Seine! In order to get to the Yonne River and Auxerre, we need to pass through just one more lock on the Seine. If it lasts much longer we may have to change our plans – AGAIN – and head down the canals of the centre – a series of 3 different canals that run one into the other. But we’ll wait until Wednesday evening before we make that decision.

As always we’ve been meeting boaters from many countries - that really is the best part of this whole experience. A nice Australian family arrived today just as a lovely couple from Plymouth left. Steve spent most of one afternoon helping Phil find the fault with our battery charger only to discover that it was fried. Oh well – we’ll have to get a new one when we get to a centre large enough to have a chandlery and a good boat mechanic. We still don’t know why the battery powered lights in the salon don’t work but we usually try to get a moorage with electricity so it’s not a disaster. Phil gets a little stressed by all the things that go wrong but realistically boats are just a another problem waiting to happen. It’s part of the charm of cruising!!

Thanking Steve (with wife Anne) for all his help with Champagne and strawberries (Clockwise from the left– Jean, Phil, Anne, Owen and Steve)

But, hey, we are in France! Baguettes are my new best friend, my aunt and uncle are wonderful company and seem to be enjoying themselves regardless and the weather has been superb. We finally got our first day of rain and we’ve been here for over a month. Phil’s birthday is today so we’ll go the patisserie and buy a gateau. Moret is also the home of a very special candy – Sucre d’Orge – a 300 year old recipe developed by nuns of the Prieure de Notre-Dame des Anges order. Good stuff!

Dining al fresco in Melun

We are looking forward to getting to Auxerre as we’ve heard so much about it and then heading down the Canal du Nivernais. More stories to follow!! Stay tuned.

Love to all – The Captain and the ex-Tourist Guide (I managed to resign just before being fired!)

1 comment:

  1. Hi good to hear from out for Bastille Day in a few weeks..another issue.
    Happy Belated Birthday to Phil.
    Love Helen and Charles