Saturday morning (28th March) we are about to cast off for the final leg of our journey along the Canal du Loing when we hear the sound of an approaching boat which has left the lock – just out of sight. As it rounds the bend we see it’s a commercial barge – they look huge on the canal and cause enough swell to pull out the pins holding the bow mooring rope of Bluegum! A foretaste of what’s to come on the River Seine.
Three locks later we arrive at Moret sur Loing where we hand back our remote control and lock down onto the river. All spaces are taken up with winter mooring boats – a Piper barge ‘Kororareka’ is moored here and the owner tells us the bank is very shallow so we head up river past lots of moored commercial barges towards St Mammes where there is another Port de Plaisance.
The weather takes a turn and we have a downpour and quite a stiff wind blowing as we edge gingerly onto a finger mooring opposite a huge BP diesel fuelling station. We get secured to the pontoon just before a large ‘pusher’ barge passes by. The weather improves by the afternoon so we take a walk back to Moret sur Loing and walk over an old bridge and remarkable mill to find a pretty little town which has conserved many features from its historical past as a stronghold.
Sunday morning arrives and with some trepidation we set off on The River Seine in the direction of Paris hoping that the commercial boats are taking a day off. Its a bit of an anti climax really as the river is so wide there is no problem passing boats large or small and eventually moor at Samois sur Seine for the night. This is a very pretty mooring which we would definitely return to for a few days in the future. The quay is at the bottom of a very steep hill we have to climb very slowly to reach the village and the the few shops and bars. For the musicians amongst you Django Reinhardt is buried in the cemetery of Samois and each year in the month of June a festival is held in his honour. Wikipedia informs me that Reinhardt is regarded as one of the greatest guitar players of all time and was the first important European jazz musician who made major contributions to the development of the guitar genre creating a new technique called ‘hot’ jazz guitar. Following a fire where he suffered burns resulting in his third and fourth fingers to be paralyzed he used only his index and middle finger of his left hand – so not only do you find out what mischief we get up to; you get educated at the same time!!! Unlike canals we cannot just moor up where we fancy so have to study the maps and guides and rather alien to us, plan where we head for each day. This time of year there is no problem as we appear to be the only pleasure boat out and about so on Monday we head for Melun and as expected have the whole quay to ourselves. The moorings are outside a university building so we wonder if we may encounter some noisy and drunken students however we are assured by the man who collects the mooring fee that it is very safe and quiet and in any case we will be under surveillance all night and shows us the cameras – now we know how he knew we were there. About six pm a small cruiser arrives crewed by a French couple who do not speak any English but it is quite nice to have company for a change. We had a walk into the town which is nice but unremarkable.
As we near Paris we are beginning to get rather worried as we have still not secured a mooring. Charles resorts to telephoning the Port in the centre of Paris as our emails do not appear to be working only to be told there are no spaces but there may be one next week – a bit late as Daniel and Jonathan are arriving on Thursday. He rings around a number of ports without success but our luck changes when Nogent sur Marne say yes. Apparently the capatainne first says no and then has a hurried conversation with his colleague and decide we can probably fit somewhere!!!
Tuesday is a very long day as Melun to Nogent is over sixty kilometres apart with eight locks and one tunnel to negotiate – as you can imagine by the end of the day we are tired, fraught and a bit grumpy to say the least.
We arrived at Nogent around 6 in the evening to find the offices all closed so I wander around the port to see if I could spot where our allocated mooring was. There was only one possible space but I was sceptical Bluegum would fit and was just walking back to the boat when a man who turns out to be the capatainne approaches and confirms the place I had found was indeed our mooring. Charles does his best to get Bluegum in but it is quite obvious we ain’t going to fit – much to the relief of the owner of the small fiberglass cruiser we are trying to squeeze in by who is looking mortified as this large steel hull creeps ever closer. So instead to breast up next to a very large peniche which requires aerobic manoeuvres to get on and off – but we have a mooring and its not far from Paris – we are happy.