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.


Ian said...

Both dreadful and incredible. Such a shame. I am glad that they did not take all the flowers. Congratulations on your navigation of the Ourcq - loved reading about it, thanks.

Ian said...

OK, we're here now - in Nogent-sur-Seine. We're researching our cruise up the Marne is the best possible way your's and poor departed Shaun's blogs of your cruises. Must chat sometime.

Ian said...

Nogent-sur-Marne - Rufus!

Ian said...

Grrrrrrrrrrrr "dufus"