Château Thierry (Egyptian interloper)

Rue de Général de Gaulle in Château Thierry
We went for a good walk down the River Marne on Sunday morning and on the way we detoured into the village of Essômes-sur-Marne.  Rather than having an information board with a map of the village, the side of the bar was painted with items of interest.

The information board at Essômes-sur-Marne
The places of interest included the mairie, vineyards, a church, gargoyles and a fountain, but of biggest interest to us was a lavoir 😊

This was our first lavoir for five weeks and not only that, it was one of the ones displaying a Jean de la Fontaine fable: "The wolf, the goat and the kid".  As is our recent practice I have only put one picture in this blog entry but if you want to see and read more details please click here.

The words to "La loup, la chevre et le chevreau" inside the lavoir
We found the other items of interest and also an old mill and priory that wasn’t depicted on the wall of the bar.

The mill and the priory
The church

Some of the gargoyles
We got home just as it started raining which continued off and on while we had lunch.  We then watched the thrilling Australia v Wales game and as the rain was still holding off we went for another walk in the opposite direction.

When we hit the main street, we saw it was hung with pink umbrellas – see photo at the top.  They weren’t quite as spectacular as the ones we saw in Carcassonne last year but then it was the height of summer.  Karen guessed, correctly it turned out, that it was for breast cancer awareness.

More umbrellas in the square in front of the hôtel de ville
Posters in the square explained that this was the fifth October that the town has ‘celebrated’ breast cancer awareness under the banner of “Octobre Rose à Château Thierry”.

When we got back there were about 40 Canada geese around the boat as well as a dozen or so mallards and a family of mute swans.  As I have said before, waterfowl are nowhere near as common here as they are in the UK where, in towns especially, they congregate because they get fed by the public.

We know it's wrong to dislike animals but Canada geese are not our favourite bird; however, this gaggle had an Egyptian goose in their midst as well as one Canada goose with a white head.  This was the same as the gaggle we had seen last week when we were moored near Mézy-Moulins because the Egyptian goose and the white headed goose were also there.  Unless it was a strange coincidence it means that they had travelled just over ten kilometres.  Other than times of immigration or migration we have never considered birds as having a large 'home' territory range.

When Karen & Buddy returned from their morning run on Monday, we left Buddy on the boat and walked to Carrefour to do the weekly shop.  When we went in the shop the sky was grey and looked like being that way all day but by the time we had finished the sun was out and it turned out being rather a nice day.

After lunch we had a good walk to a village called Blesmes.  The first five kilometres were along the riverbank which had lots of walnut trees but hardly any walnuts on them.  We saw quite a few people out with long poles shaking the higher branches and as Karen said, ‘you can’t really blame the locals for clearing up’.

Another common tree was the spindle which is quite prominent this time of year with its pink fruits.  It’s meant to be a common tree in the UK, but we have never found them so, certainly not in the numbers we saw today.

The pretty pink fruits of the spindle
It was only when reading up on the tree on the Woodland Trust website that I learnt that the wood from the tree was used for making spinning spindles – obvious when you think about it 😉

There were also many specimens of another nut tree that we have so far been unable to identify: can any readers help please?

The unknown nut tree
Other than having a pleasant country walk our other aim was to get to the village of Blesmes.  One of the brochures about the Jean de la Fontain fables that we bought at the tourist office the other day contained details of a fable represented at Blesmes. 

We knew it was at a lavoir which, being in a small village, should be easy to find.  There was a stream running through the village, so we followed it up the hill, guessing it would be the ideal water source for a lavoir.  We came across one pretty quickly, but it clearly wasn’t the one we were looking for.  Sadly, it was quite badly graffitied inside which is something we rarely find.

It was also the most modern we have seen being built, or rebuilt, in 1934 according to the inscription above one of the entrances.  At least the water was running and clear so Buddy could have a drink.

We carried on up the hill and found the lavoir we were looking for in the centre of the oldest part of the village.  Once again, it had graffiti over the walls. 

The lavoir we were looking for
The placards on the walls explaining the fable, the Old Man and the Donkey, were badly defaced too.  As well as being stream-fed it had an impluvium style roof to collect rainwater in the washing pool.

Outside the building was a concrete donkey which, sadly too, had had its head broken off.

The headless donkey
More views of both lavoirs can be found by clicking here.

We did wonder how it worked with two lavoirs using the same water source with the lower one also getting the used water from the higher one.

As we walked back down the hill, we could see the vines on the vineyards on the other side of the valley were just beginning to turn colour.  We are now hoping to catch the vineyards in their full autumn colours over the next few weeks and not miss that like we missed the main fortnight of the vendange.

Looking across the Marne valley
Tomorrow we shall be leaving Château Thierry and heading east as we need to get through a lock that is closing for maintenance on Sunday.

Our last evening in Château Thierry


Emilie said...

This isn't exactly a comment on this post, but a more general question. I'm an a\
American, but my husband and and I have spent 2-3 months on a narrowboat on UK canals for the past 5 years and are now thinking of buying a boat ourselves. We haven't cruised on the continent except once once many years ago. What I was wondering is, as a general matter how do the costs of cruising on the continent compare with the cost in the UK? Thanks in advance for any insight you can give. Emilie Pritchard

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Hi Emilie. Sorry for the late response but for some reason your question has only just come through to me. As a general guide.

Boat licence - France is about 60/70% of the UK cost

Water - nearly always free in UK. Often pay in France but you can find free places and judicious use of water will see you through

Gas - like everything else in France (other than bread) it's more expensive

Moorings - always free in UK unless you want to go to a marina. If you want to moor up with electricity and water then usually you pay in France. We like wild mooring so have hardly ever paid. Just have to be careful mooring wild if on a commercial route as standard pins are not recommended - you really need bollards/rings.

Diesel - in the UK we always bought red diesel with no duty, i.e. 100% domestic use. In France you have to pay full duty so pay fuel station prices.

I'm sure there's far more to mention so if there is anything specific just let me know.

Cheers, Neil