Paris-Arsenal (attracting a TV crew)

Turning off the Seine with Notre Dame ahead
It was very quiet on the river boat-wise on Monday morning when we left Ablon-sur-Seine and we had an easy journey through the suburbs of Paris.  Apart from when we hit the city itself, the main sight was of a TGV crossing the river, so that’s says it all really ūüėČ

After 11 kilometres we were approaching the lock we hadn’t realised was there, √©cluse Anglais.  Its two locks were situated at the extreme ends of the Pont d’Anglais so we hedged our bets and stayed midstream until we were told which lock we had to go down.

Pont d’Anglais
It was only a few more kilometres and we were going through the confluence with the River Marne.  This is the river we will be going up when we head for Champagne after our sojourn in Paris – yes, we’ve agreed where we’re going after we’ve explored the Parisian waterways!

The bridges then started coming thick and fast and so did the graffiti.

Graffitied bridge
A nice thing about the centre of Paris along the Seine is that it is not dominated by skyscraper office blocks as with some cities.  This means sights such as the Eiffel Tower can be seen without hindrance from any angle.

Bridges coming thick and fast

The pretty (to us) Pont de Bercy with a viaduct on top for trains
As soon as we could see Notre Dame in the distance, we knew we were near the junction with the Canal St Martin where we were turning off, up a lock and into the Paris-Arsenal basin for a few days.  I radioed ahead and was told the lock would be ready.  As we turned right, we saw the lights turn red and the gates closing.

The lights were meant to be on green and the gates open!
I radioed in again and we soon found out what had happened; a cruiser in front hadn’t radioed ahead but had gone straight into the lock set for us and the √©clusier, operating remotely and thinking it was us, closed the lock.  The lock hadn’t started filling so the doors were opened for us and we went in.  This was much to our relief as we didn’t want to be hanging around trying to hover on the Seine with the commercials and trip boats coming by.

Gates opening and in we go
As we came out of the lock, we could see the port stretching out in front of us with the Bastille column at the far end.

The July column at the end of the basin celebrating the revolution of 1830
We suddenly realised we didn’t know where our reserved mooring was, so it was back on the radio to find out.  All the pontoons looked far too short for us, so we were relieved to find out we had a parallel mooring at the lock end near the captainerie.

That’s us, parallel parked, about six boats from the end on the far side
A selfie from our mooring to celebrate arriving in Paris successfully
After a trip to the captainerie to find out the rules and other details about staying in the port it was off to a supermarket.  Karen’s youngest (Jo) and eldest (Matt) were joining us for a couple of days so we needed to stock up.  When we were unpacking, we noticed a dinghy passing alongside the boat with a film crew on board.  There was also a knock on a window, and it was a French guy saying they were from a TV station and asked if they could film the boat and interview us too.

They were interested in two things really: what it’s like to live on an English narrowboat and what we thought of their wonderful capital city.  We were so taken aback by all this that we didn’t take any pictures of them taking!

The children arrived in the late afternoon and once they settled in, we went for a walk along the Paris Plages by the Seine as, it seemed, were most of Paris and the tourists.  Of course, we ended up at a bar by the river and had a pleasant evening catching up with everyone’s stories.

On Monday we cruised 20 kilometres down two locks.  Since leaving Migennes nine days ago, after our week’s break in the UK nine days ago, we have travelled 190 kilometres through 26 locks so are looking forward to a rest from cruising.

Tuesday was spent doing all the touristy stuff and it seemed we were walking all day.  We made it through the central sights such as Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Palace etc. and turned around when we reached the Eiffel Tower.  In the evening we went out for a meal at a restaurant near the basin to celebrate Karen’s birthday.

We wanted to take a trip down the Seine, to do take in some of the buildings and other sights including going as far down as the Eiffel Tower.  The trip boats start at 10am so we were advised to set out early so that we could return by that time.  As we saw on our walks on Monday and Tuesday, there are so many trip boats and they all seemed to travel very fast that it would make a very uncomfortable and stressful journey.

So, it was up early on Wednesday morning to get down the lock onto the Seine when it opened at just after 8am.   It was the perfect morning with full sun and some contrails spreading across the sky.  Notre Dame sits on one of two large islands in the river just down from where we came out of the lock and there is a traffic light one-way system in operation for pleasure boats and commercials.  The trip boats are allowed to take other routes around the islands, so they are not held up.  We ended up waiting for the lights to go green for about ten minutes with a couple of commercials.

Only trip boats allowed up this route (the wording under the no entry signs explain)
The area in the shade in the picture above is the start of the Paris Plages and by lunchtime would be in full sunshine and covered in deck chairs for sunbathers.  As is the rule, we let the commercials go ahead of us when the lights changed and then off we went.

Letting the commercials through first
The next split in the river was right in front of Notre Dame and we had to turn right.

Turning right in front of Notre Dame
We clearly passed many of the well-known sites and buildings so won’t bore you with loads of pictures, but here are a couple:

The Palais de Justice
The Mus√©e d’Orsay
After about six kilometres we were passing the Eiffel Tower and had not seen a single trip boat on the move, but many were already taking passengers on board as we passed them at their moorings.  We saw a few commercials and a very fast police patrol boat which, funnily enough, gave us the worst impact from any wake we have encountered so far.

To prove it was us passing the Eiffel Tower (with trip boats beginning to fill up)
Soon after the Eiffel Tower we were heading for one of the financial districts and decided it was time to turn around if we wanted to get back before the trip boats started.

The attractive Pont Bir Hakeim
As we were getting back to the main islands, a trip boat looked like he was about to set off in our direction.  By the time we were going down one of the narrower channels he was only a bridge or so behind us.

About to set off down a smaller channel on the right
This channel was one way with no overtaking allowed so we assumed he would go down the wider route.  He didn’t and was soon behind us but not hassling us as some people have told us they do.

A quieter channel
As soon as we reached the end of the no overtaking section, I gave him plenty of room and the captain gave us a happy thank you wave as he passed us while the passengers were busy taking photographs of us.

When we were near the lock, we radioed through only to be told we would have to wait for 15 minutes as a boat was already going up and two more were waiting to come down.  While we waited, we cruised on a little further up the river so that we didn’t have to hang around in the river outside the lock.

The river police station opposite the entrance to the lock
We were back at our mooring by 10.30am having had, what we thought, was a brilliant adventure: driving a narrowboat along the Seine through the middle of Paris.  What next? Well, there’s nearly 150 kilometres of canals and tunnels in Paris so there’s plenty to explore before we head towards Champagne.

Jo left for Edinburgh during the afternoon and, in the evening Iain, an ‘old’ work colleague of mine, joined us for a few drinks on the boat.  He is working in Paris at present, so it was good to have a catch up in different surroundings.  

Our Wednesday morning cruise took us 14 kilometres through two locks back to our starting point.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Splendid - wee done. As always, Chalkhill Blue seems to take attention away from all the other barges in port!