Sunday 28 July 2019

Meaux (the lavoir returns)

On Thursday the temperature was back in the 40s, so we didn’t do a lot all day other than make sure that Buddy kept cool.  At one point though, I walked down to the old Canal de Cornillon to find the remnants of a lock.

The old lock at Meaux on the Canal de Cornillon
The River Marne forms one of its many meandering loops around and through Meaux.  In the 13th century the top end of the loop had several mills built on wooden piles that formed a bridge across the river.  This made it impossible to navigate through Meaux so a short cut, the 575-metre-long Canal de Cornillon was built in 1235 to make navigation possible.  Looking at the map below, this short cut is the upper of the two blue lines across the loop.

Meaux where we have been moored for a while
The lower blue line is the current navigation which is a cut from Chalifert to Meaux and called the Canal de Chalifert.  Even though this cut is over 170 years old, the original one was still used into the 1950s.

Amazingly the mills stood until 1920 when they were destroyed by a storm and flooding.  This is a picture of a postcard of those mills from that time though I doubt they are the same buildings that were apparently erected in the 1200s.  Behind the mills you can see the bridge that was opened in 1540 and still stands today.

The Pont de Marché opened in 1540 
Friday was nearly ten degrees cooler, so I went off to the station first thing in the morning to make my way to Migennes to pick up the car.  First, I had to get into Paris and, as it was late rush hour, the train was fairly crowded but fortunately air conditioned.  I then had to catch a couple of metros before the next train and I had a slight panic on the first one.  Looking at the metro map on the train I saw that my interchange station was greyed out and there was reference to works being carried out until September.  I made up my mind to carry on to the following station and then walk back.  My rationale being that the station may actually be open, and I would get off as planned, if so.

After studying the words on the map a little more, just before reaching the station, I realised that only two of the four lines that ran through the station were closed and neither were the ones I wanted.  Just as well I didn’t get off at the station beforehand!

Even though there were no delays on my journey and very short waits for connections, I just got on the final train as the doors were closing.  Clearly, the French train journey planner works to a much tighter timeline than UK ones where it is sometimes possible to get earlier trains because so much time is allowed for connections etc.

It wasn’t long before we were travelling into Burgundy and the change since we left a few weeks ago was amazing.  The sunflower fields were nearly at their stunning best and, as the train was full of tourists heading into Burgundy, there was a lot of excited chatter about the views.

After 3 ½ hours travelling I arrived in Migennes where I had a shortish walk along the end of the Canal de Bourgogne and onto the River Yonne to retrieve the car from Simon’s boatyard.  Sadly, the canal is now closed due to water shortages so the port was empty apart from the boats at the hire boat centre which, I assume, are now unusable until the canal reopens.

This would normally be full of tourist boats
At the boatyard I settled our bill for the period we had been moored there during our last trip back to the UK and had a chat with Phillipe.  He attends the weekly VNF information meetings about the state of the waterways and didn’t have any good news.  In fact, he confirmed everything we have found out about the impending and current closures of canals.

At least, soon after I started driving back to Meaux, I passed a lavoir.  This one was in Épineau-les-Voves and was the first we have seen for quite a while.   I mentioned before that we have come to the conclusion that clothes cleanliness wasn’t as high on the agenda in the areas around Paris as it was in Burgundy!

Lavoir, built in 1915, now used by the council for storing their lawn mowing and gardening equipment
It only took two hours to drive back and I picked up Karen & Buddy when I arrived at the boat.  Parking is limited to eight hours in the centre for non-residents, and we needed to keep the car here until we leave on Monday.  Karen had gone for a walk during the morning to find the closest places we could leave the car without paying and without time limitations.  That’s why I picked her up so she could show me where to park.

During the late afternoon several more boats turned up and it was the first time we had seen all the pontoons full up.  No doubt it will empty out again during the weekend.

One of our neighbours - all the way from Mexico
Around midnight the rain started, and it seemed to rain all night and was still raining when we awoke on Saturday morning and it certainly made a refreshing change.  Our first job was to visit the vets to get Buddy’s passport validated for re-entry into the UK which has to be done every time we return.  This entails tapeworm treatment and having his passport stamped accordingly and the cost seems to vary considerably.  Our last bill was for €52 and today it was only €16!

It was raining when we walked back from the vets and we were glad we had packed our waterproof jackets.  On the way back we visited the Saturday market which even had a live rock band entertaining the customers and also those people who had to wait outside as dogs weren’t allowed in 😉

It stopped raining for the rest of the day as we got home and we (and Buddy) enjoyed a much cooler afternoon and evening than of late in what felt like normal summer temperatures.

Thursday 25 July 2019

Meaux (what health & safety?)

Our mooring at Meaux with the cathedral in the background
At least this second heatwave (canicule) is not due to last as long as the one a month or so ago.  A week ago, it looked like we would have several days in the forties but now it’s thankfully changed to high 30s and only one day, Thursday, hitting 40. 

We decided to get to Meaux on Tuesday and set off early so we could arrive before lunchtime and also before the moorings might fill up.  We hadn’t been going long when we rounded a bend and were confronted with our digger dredger from Monday.  We slowed up and waited for instructions, only to be waved through.  I know this would also happen in the UK but over there the operation would stop as we passed especially in such a narrow spot.  We were amazed that the digger kept on working as we passed close by.

Our digger dredger
We were staying on the manmade cut through heavily wooded sides until we hit the lock at Meaux, so it was a relatively boring straight journey with only bridges breaking up the view every so often.

When we went under the A140 autoroute viaduct we realised it was the same viaduct we had gone under when travelling on the Canal de l’Ourcq a week or so ago.  

This viaduct crosses the cut then the River Marne and also the Canal de l’Ourcq
As we approached the lock at Meaux there were a couple of bends and when I radioed the lock I was told a commercial had just come through the lock so we should proceed carefully but the lock would be set and ready for us.  At least the commercials are smaller on this waterway as the locks are only 45 metres long, so we passed this one with ease and found it rather colourful with its paintwork and flags.

Not far from Meaux lock
As we went around that first corner, we could see the next ahead of us.  The lock was just around that corner, but the lights were thoughtfully placed so they could be seen before arriving at the bend.  That way there was no danger of turning the corner and coming face to face with a boat exiting the lock.

Green light at écluse de Meaux
The continuing dry weather is causing a bit of a panic amongst some in the boating community over here.  With water levels so low, restrictions are being put in place on quite a few waterways now.  These restrictions range from reduced opening hours, reduced water depth and enforced lock sharing.  At least on a narrowboat the reduced depth restriction should affect us the least. 

On top of these it appears that several canals are now likely to close over the next few weeks and especially those that link the Lyon area to a line of latitude through Paris.  These are the various routes that join the north and the south.  Many people are in the south and need to get back to winter moorings in the north and vice versa.  As you will probably guess it is difficult separating rumour from fact, so we have decided to ignore things for the moment and carrying on with our plans.

Going into écluse de Meaux
As we came out of the lock, we were back on the River Marne and headed downstream to the moorings in the centre of town.

Heading into Meaux
When we arrived at the pontoons there was only one other boat there, so we needn’t have worried about finding a space.  This was Charisma with Pat & Dave on board.  They were here when we popped down to see PJ & Dieta who were moored here when we were on the Canal de l’Ourcq. Pat & Dave had had a problem with their boat and were still waiting for a spare part to arrive after nearly four weeks!  During the afternoon four other boats arrived.

Moored in Meaux
After having a slow and short walk around our part of Meaux we spent the rest of the day on the mooring.  I was a bit distraught as, when I started to upload pictures for the blog my laptop screen went black and refused to work anymore.   In the end we decided it was probably the heat and left it until Wednesday morning when I’d try and sort it out.

Back to the water shortages, our current plan is to overwinter at Roanne, and we have booked a slot down there.  One of the canals we will have to go on has a few restrictions already and is expected to close on 6th August.

Our route from Meaux to Roanne
When this has happened in other years, VNF have allowed convoys through at the end of October so they can reach their winter moorings.  This is, of course, on the assumption that we get some rain before then.  Anyway, as I said, we are sticking to our current plans and will be on our way again when we return from the UK at the beginning of August.

On Tuesday we cruised 10 kilometres up one lock and will probably stay here until we return from our annual family camping trip in the Yorkshire Dales.

Wednesday was hotter still so Karen & Buddy went for their run very early in the morning.  They found a good shaded path along the river which was also very sandy.  For some reason Buddy loves the feel of sand and starts rushing around in circles and trying to bury himself so it was just as well it was shady for him.

Karen & Buddy’s path
We took in a walk around the town and to the station when Karen got back but, again, spent the rest of the day at the mooring. We went to the station so I could work out how to get back to Migennes on Friday to pick up the car ready for going back to the UK on Monday.

Buddy’s preferred position while it’s too hot outside
As you will notice Buddy has a wet towel over him and will sleep with it on all night too so he can’t be that daft!

I spent quite a while trying to sort out my laptop and was beginning to rue buying an expensive Microsoft Surface.  I was getting particularly irritated by the fact that, as it was out of warranty, they would only replace it with another one rather than attempt a repair.  That sounds fine but the cost of this wasn’t far off £700.  In the end, after about the sixth attempt at soft booting it came back to life.  While the weather stays this hot I will limit using it to hopefully avoid it happening again.

We really didn't do a lot during the day other than a couple of wanders around town and a few trips to a spot on the river that is accessible to Buddy.  We did find a bar in the shade later on and sat outside enjoying a breeze off the river.  Graham, one of our neighbours appeared at one point for a chat as he was on the way to the Tourist Office, who manage our moorings, to make a complaint.

He wasn't happy that every time you pay for the moorings, only 10 minutes of water is delivered.  We have to admit that he has a good point as, even at high pressure, 10 minutes is not going to deliver much water.  We won't be complaining though as we need to tell them we will be leaving the boat here while we pop back to the UK 😀 

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Esbly (moored off the main drag)

Out of the sun for our Monday night mooring at Esbly
For a couple that don’t particularly like travelling on rivers we are going over the top on the Marne.  We are travelling the whole navigable length of 178 kilometres from the junction with the Seine until we get onto the Canal lateral à la Marne at a place called Dizy.  There are a further five kilometres of river navigable down to Épernay from Dizy so we may well bite the bullet and go up and down that stretch too.

I said in the last entry that we were hoping for rain on Saturday night and it certainly came; just before 11pm it started hammering on the roof but, unfortunately, only lasted about five minutes.  Mind you that was long enough to soak the floors where the doors, windows and hatches were open but covered by our home-made mosquito netting.

We awoke on Sunday to the sound of rowers on the river and we felt we had been transported back to the River Avon at Stratford which is particularly busy with rowers on Sunday mornings.  We remembered spending many a happy morning laying in bed in Stratford listening to the sound of oars splashing, crews chatting and coaches and coxes calling.  

Paddle boarder as well 
I forgot to mention the selling ploy that we have seen used by some French patisseries.  I was reminded of this when we walked past one such shop in Perreux yesterday.

By indicating portion size, the cost per person doesn’t seem so bad
Our plan for Sunday was to cruise to Lagny-sur-Marne as we knew water was available there so we could stop and do all our washing.  Apart from the rowers it was quiet on the river and when I radioed the first lock, I was surprised to hear that we would have to wait and let a commercial in first.  Sure enough, I looked behind and could just see the front of a commercial coming around the corner.

Even if we shared the lock, we still have to let the commercial go in first, so I slowed down and we exchanged the standard waves as he went past us. 

Letting the commercial through
He was only 40 metres long so with 125-metre-long locks at this end of the Marne I knew we would get in behind him.  As he went in, I started to get concerned as it looked like he was only just going to fit.  Now, my conversation with the éclusier had been fine and I had even understood that another boat was coming, and we would have to let him go first.  What I didn’t realise was the Marne guidebook was yet again misleading and the locks from here up to the far end of the river are only 45 metres long.  The éclusier must have thought I was loopy radioing him to check that I should go in behind the commercial!

He just fitted in
As luck would have it, we had to wait for a hotel boat to come down after the commercial had gone up.  I was getting concerned that another commercial may come up behind us while we were waiting.  We have to let them go first as they obviously have priority.  As it was Sunday, we were lucky and no other boat came behind us and Raymonde was soon coming out of the lock.

Hotel boat Raymonde (included here as my father is called Raymond)
It was a 4.4-metre-deep lock, so we approached the ascending procedure with some trepidation especially with the number of gongoozlers watching us.  We needn’t have worried as we encountered no problems and even the éclusier radioed and wished us a good journey 😊

Being gongoozled
Talking of being thought of as potentially loopy reminds me that the River Marne is also very loopy.  There are several large loops that are shortened by manmade cuts and the lock above was at one end of one of these cuts. All the cuts are named and this particular one is called Canal de Chelles and it ends up meeting the Marne again at a place called Vaires-sur-Marne.

Going under the Passerelle de Bry when we set off on Sunday morning
In the end we never made it to Lagny-sur-Marne as we found an empty 10-metre pontoon before we reached the final lock on the cut.  It looked like it would be nice and shady, so we moored up for the day.  Looking at satellite images it seemed the moorings at Lagny would be in full sun all day which we would want to avoid anyway.

Moored for the rest of Sunday just before Chelles
After lunch we went for a walk around the area and found the riverbanks full of French families barbequing their Sunday lunches.

On the opposite bank were a dozen or so liveaboard péniches.  We have got used to the different approach the French have to living aboard compared with the Brits.  They tend not to continuously cruise like many of us do and they have massive (to us) boats around 40 metres long that are permanently moored and have their own water, electricity and mail supplies.    

A couple of the liveaboard boats
Walking past the boats later we saw the same features that are exhibited by UK permanent moorers, ranging from impeccable gardens and boats down to hulls that have been stripped bare and are clearly taking years longer to renovate than planned.   The largest we have been on was about 30 metres long and that was enormous, so goodness knows what these ones were like.

It goes without saying that, as in the UK, every boater we met on our walk was really friendly and it didn’t matter whether they had what looked like a palace or not as each of us lives in what we call 'home’.

On Sunday we ended up only cruising 14 kilometres up one lock. 

We were lying in bed on Monday morning listening to the bird song which became drowned out by the sound of the engine of an approaching commercial.  As we were on a floating pontoon there was a lot of movement up and down and creaking and screeching of rollers, but it soon settled down again.  I suddenly realised though that I could see different trees to the ones I was looking at before the boat came past.  I shot out of bed and saw that the front end was adrift, and we were almost perpendicular to the bank.

We threw on some clothes to be decent and rushed out to sort things out.  A mooring cleat had come away from the pontoon, but we were still tied at the back end. We got hold of the centre line and pulled the boat in and, with only one working cleat, had to tie to the handrail of the steps down to the pontoon.  It seemed to hold as other boats passed OK.

Not the normal method of using a mooring line

One broken cleat
What it should look like
Monday promised to be in the high thirties and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  There was also no breeze, not even on the river which was unusual.

Unusual to see a river so calm
After our first lock we were soon heading through Lagny-sur-Marne where we were originally planning on getting to on Sunday.  When we were thinking of going there, we had been concerned that there may not have been space.  All the pictures we have seen of other boaters there seem to show the moorings chock-a-block. As it was, we needn’t have worried: not a single boat was moored in Lagny.

Empty moorings at Lagny-sur-Marne
When we reached Chalifert we came across another issue with our Marne guidebook.  This was the third irritating issue we have come across so far and we can’t say we have found anything irritatingly wrong in the guidebooks we have used on the other parts of France.  At Chalifert we were leaving the Marne river to join one of the several cuts that cut off large loops in the river.  The guidebook indicated that we were going through a lock as we joined the cut and that we would be going down it which was odd as we are heading upstream.

We had noticed this anomaly a couple of days ago when we were route planning for the week and had thought it was really strange.  We just couldn’t get our heads around it and came up with all sorts of reasons.  My main concern was what to say when I radioed ahead – should I say we are avalant (going downstream) or montant (going upstream).  In the end I didn’t say either word as they would know where we were coming from as there is a tunnel at the far side of the lock.  If we had been coming in the opposite direction, then I would have had to call the same command post to get entry to the tunnel before reaching the lock.

Approaching the wrong way around lock where we left the river for a while
The éclusier was really friendly and as we drove into the lock he even radioed through, 'Bienvenue à mon écluse!'

Chalifert tunnel just beyond the lock
As soon as we were out of the tunnel, we were approaching the next lock.  Although this one had the usual control building, the original lock cottage was still standing.  It seemed rather incongruous as the TGV Nord viaduct towered above it.

Écluse de Lesches with the TGV railway line high above
We were going under the road bridge at Esbly when we heard tooting from a car.  As you have probably realised, tooting at us is very common and we just gave a wave in return.  I then saw the guy had practically stopped and was waving frantically out of his window as well as still tooting.  It was then that I realised it was Didier, one of the Mairie de Paris escorts we had when we were told to turn around and leave the Canal de l’Ourcq because the levels were too low.  In a way it wasn’t surprising that it was him as, in places, the Canal de l’Ourcq runs very close to the River Marne and we were only about 10km from where we had last seen him. 

At Esbly the unnavigable Canal lateral au Grand-Morin heads off to the south.  This used to link up with other waterways but is no longer managed and is full of fallen trees.  It is still used as a feeder to the cut we were on, so I assume any large blockages are removed.

Passing the entrance to the Canal lateral au Grand-Morin
As we went past the entrance, we noticed a short pontoon a little way down and, as it was in the shade and looked like it would be all afternoon and evening, we decided to try and moor up there.  It didn’t take long to pull up and reverse down to the pontoon where we were soon nice and secure.  At least we were away from the main channel so any passing commercials shouldn’t affect us like they had in the morning 😉

Moored up and looking down the disused cut
After lunch we did our usual thing of having a walk around the town.  As it was so hot, we didn’t walk for too long and Buddy didn’t seem too bothered either.  He was just happy standing in the canal whenever we found shallow bits for him.  As usual, the Mairie gardens were extremely well looked after and obviously well-watered.  They also seemed to be following the recent theme we have noticed of having an insectivorium, this one was constructed by local children.

Esbly’s insectivorium
We did see something strange during the afternoon.  We thought we heard a commercial coming but when we looked out, we thought it was a type of dredger.  Watching closely, we realised that the mechanical shovel was being used to move the craft along the canal.  

A strange method of propulsion
On Monday we cruised 15 kilometres up three locks.

Sunday 21 July 2019

Perreux-sur-Marne (robbed on the Marne)

Reflective mooring at Perreux-sur-Marne for the weekend
Soon after Karen got back from her morning run on Friday, we left La Villette under grey skies.  Both sides of the canal are popular with commuters running, cycling or just walking to work but Karen remembered to turn around and come back from her run 😉  Soon after setting off we passed the entrance to the one Paris canal we didn’t venture onto, the Canal Saint-Denis.  We could have gone down it to the end where it joins the Seine north of Paris but felt we didn’t really want to have the stress of cruising through the centre of Paris during the day.  Doing it the way we did last week, before 10am, was ideal and an experience we’ll never forget.

The top of the Canal Saint-Denis
It was back to using the radio to contact the Paris canal control room where all the locks and bridges are controlled from.  First, we had to make contact to have the Pont de Crimée lifted and it was going up as we approached.  

The Pont de Crimée just starting to rise
Next we had to contact them to say we wanted to go down the locks on the Canal Saint-Martin.  These were the four double staircase locks and one solitary lock, that we christened the Paris Nine (after the Rochdale Nine) on our way up over a week ago.  Again, the top lock was ready and waiting for us when we arrived, and we were soon passing along the busy pounds with traffic, tourists and commuters on either side.

The Quai de Valmy
The locks were all operated efficiently, and we were getting down in good time, but it was a different story with the swing bridges.  We had to wait for what seemed like 10 minutes at each one before the barriers went down to stop the traffic. 

Waiting in an empty lock for a bridge to swing
The driver in the picture above actually reversed his van back and jumped out to take a picture of us in the lock!

Even once the traffic was stopped, pedestrians took a while to clear the bridges

Finally swinging open
When the bridge above opened we had to steer clear of a tourist boat that was coming up the locks towards us. 

Nearing the last pair of locks before the Voute de Bastille
We noticed, what seemed like dozens, of young people (well, in their 20s) collecting litter from the canal and along the pavements beside it.  They were all wearing the same type of protective gloves and their bin bags were the same so it would be interesting to know if this happens everyday or if it was a one off and therefore why today and why them?

At the last pair of locks, we handed in, with some melancholy, our large key for operating the locks on the Canal de l’Ourcq.

Temple locks: note for later, the flowerpot with the white flowers and geraniums, near the far end of the gangplank
As we were going down Temple locks, the control centre told us that we couldn’t go through the Voute de Bastille as a tourist boat was coming through.  We had to go into the entrance and wait on a pontoon until the boat came through.

Our dragonfly solar lights shining well in the dark
We’re really pleased with our dragonfly solars as they stay alight all night in this weather.  It’s lovely seeing them as we lay back in bed after our visits to the loo during the night.  The green light above the boat is telling the tourist boat that they can leave the tunnel and go into the lock.

As we came out of the 2km long tunnel we were back in the Arsenal basin and we saw PJ & Dieta’s boat jutting out near the tunnel entrance, so we stopped for a quick chat.  No doubt we will see them several more times before November because, they too, are heading to Roanne by November.  With all the impending canal closures they are taking the same route as us as the waterways concerned have the deepest draught clearance at present.

Saying goodbye to PJ & Dieta…

…and goodbye to the Bastille column at the end of Arsenal
As we cruised slowly through the Arsenal basin, I radioed a different control centre to have the lock onto the Seine ready for us.  Right on schedule, the gates were opening as we arrived.

Heading for the last lock onto the Seine (the last of the Paris Nine)
Although we weren’t going far up the Seine, we both felt we’d had enough by the time we got to the junction with the River Marne where we were turning off.  For some reason the river was particularly choppy and making the boat roll as well as pitch.  Maybe the frequency of the passing commercials meant the water never settled into a rhythm.

Marne to the left and Seine to the right and the clouds getting darker again
Once we were on the Marne it suddenly felt tranquil, probably also helped by the clouds clearing too.  Another added bonus was that the locks had lock landings but the arrangements for ascending once inside were a little fraught to say the least.

Waiting on a lock landing for a commercial to emerge from of the lock

Setting off for our first lock on the Marne (note in the life ring, another pot with red geraniums and white flowers)
A different feel to the Marne
As we approached Créteil a cut goes off to the left, through a lock and a tunnel, to cut off a 13-kilometre-long loop of the river.  We decided to stay on the river and carry on towards Créteil to find a mooring for the next couple of days.  We found a floating pontoon just our length a couple of hundred metres short of the next lock.

Our mooring for the next couple of days
Can you spot the difference in the two pictures above?  Apart from the fact the one on the right was taken later in the day when we started to get some shade.

After mooring up and having lunch we went for a walk towards the middle of Créteil.  We both felt it wasn’t very inspiring or pleasant and, as it was getting rather hot and sticky, we soon turned around.  When we got home, I noticed there was a large gap between two of the plant pots at the front.  Karen remarked that it was where we had had a terracotta pot with nasturtiums in that we got rid of recently as, strangely, they weren’t thriving in heat.

As she was opening up the boat, Karen let out a yelp, she had noticed that a pot was missing from the back of the boat.  It seemed that both the black earthenware pots had been taken.  I quickly went back up the pontoon and looked around some pretty dodgy looking houses but couldn’t see any evidence.  We then both looked around the shrubbery near the boat to see if they had been hidden for picking up later.  No joy there either, so we had to put it down to an unfortunate incident.  At least nothing was damaged or anything else was taken.  [The before and after pictures were taken by coincidence]

We did both admit to feeling uncomfortable about staying there overnight so set off to find a better mooring.  We turned around and headed for the lock on the cut.  I had forgotten to mention that the guidebook is out of date and says the locks on this part of the Marne are contacted on channel 20.  When I called up the first lock, I didn’t get a response so called a couple of times more still without a response.  It was only when we arrived at the lock that we saw the VHF19 sign!

Heading into the four-metre-deep St Maur lock
These deep locks don’t have floating bollards, floating pontoons, mooring poles or anything else to help the pleasure boater.  Our solution was to use the stepped bollards.  This meant Karen had to alternate lines between each bollard as the boat rose whilst I kept the boat in forward gear to keep it against the lock wall.

Two of the stepped bollards

Karen getting a second line attached before detaching the first
Once up the lock we were straight into the tunnel and then back onto the main river channel at Jonville-le-Pont.

Stanking planks at the tunnel exit
The towns along this stretch seemed far more upmarket than Créteil so we decided that we would start looking for somewhere to moor.  We passed several islands, all with houses on that could only be accessed by boat.  I suspect that most are second homes as many were shuttered up, but many were also in use today as there seemed to be constant crisscrossing of motor launches as the owners went over to their homes.

Some of the island homes
We were soon passing Nogent-sur-Marne with its port, mainly full of cruiser style boats but also the odd Dutch barge.  It didn’t look like the sort of place we wanted to stay and that wasn’t because of the cost 😉

The port of Nogent-sur-Marne with an attractive railway viaduct
A little further on we found a long concrete quay with rings in the side of the wall rather than on the pathway on the top.  There were a couple of cruisers moored but mainly the launches for the owners of the houses in the island opposite.  We decided to take advantage of what looked like a pleasant cost-free mooring and made ourselves at home.

Moored at Perreux-sur-Marne on Friday night
We spent the evening on board and, with the constant squeaking of parakeets flying around it sounded like we were moored in a park in London.

On Friday we ended up cruising 22 kilometres through 11 locks, seven kilometres further than we had planned but at least we felt safe and happy.

There was a chance of rain on Saturday afternoon which was good as we expected it would keep temperatures down.  Indeed, after a cloudless early morning, the clouds rolled in, but not the half expected rain never materialised, just the odd few drops in the evening.

One of the island residents on his way back from a trip into town on Saturday morning
We went for a walk around Perreux in the morning, crossed over the Marne and walked downstream where another bridge took us back over the river into Nogent-sur-Marne.  Perreux seemed a rather smart town and many of the houses were finished in rough hewn stone with ornate tiling and brickwork.

Nogent was not so pleasant and the entrances to the large park we headed were all padlocked shut.  We did have a walk down to the port to see where three of the arches from the original Pont des Arts in Paris had been erected.

Part of the original Pont des Arts
We went under the current Pont des Arts when in Paris which was erected in 1984 to replace the one that partially collapsed in 1977 after a boating accident.  The original bridge had nine arches but the replacement, for safety reasons, was built with seven but in the same style.

We will probably move onto another town on Sunday.