Sous les Ponts de Paris

Wednesday and Thursday are spent washing, cleaning and shopping. I take my first run after giving my knee a long rest and am both pleased and relieved that after a four mile run all of me feels okay.   I decided we would have the first evening on the boat as neither Daniel nor Jonathan had been on it before so prepare a boeuf bourgignon – what else??  they arrive on Thursday evening and we enjoy an evening catching up and drinking far too much wine. We take the train into Paris on Friday and have a wander around the Sacre Coeur area. As it is Good Friday there is a procession of the stations of the cross with some beautiful hymns being sung by an unseen choir.

The weather looks like it is going to take a turn for the worse so Jonathan suggests we  find a restaurant. We find one with a sheltered outside eating area, plus heaters and allows us to watch the world go by. We refrain from smirking at all the tourists getting wet and desperately trying to find shelter themselves. The local shops are doing a roaring trade selling umbrellas  but I decide it would be not only  appropriate but trés drole for us all to wear berets so after our lunch we stroll across the street and each select one – not sure everyone is as enthusiastic as me but on the plus side no-one refuses; in fact Daniel takes quite a lot of time trying different ones on to ensure not only the colour but also the size was perfect!!   We start to have a wander around Paris but the weather refuses to abate so we returned to Nogent but not before the heavens open and we have to make a dash for the boat.  Daniel has us all laughing with his weekend catch phrase shouting ‘sacre bleu’ which he uses when anything displeases him – apparently he didn’t order this rain and is quite upset at getting wet but soon cheers up when a glass of French 75 is pressed into his hand.  I prepare a home-made fish pie – these boys like their food. There was me thinking it would be cheese and baguette after eating out at lunch time but there was nothing left of the pie or the cheese!!! We don our berets and look pretty chic and wonder why when we get up to  wave at passing canoeists they start laughing – Jonathan suggests it might be our headwear……



Trés chic!


It's been a long day!
It’s been a long day!

On Saturday we take Bluegum out for a trip to Lagney sur Marne where Jonathan takes the helm and demonstrates his old skills of boat handling (old skills Jonathan, not you of course) and Daniel learns the roping techniques in the locks which can be a bit tricky as the bollards are set for the commercial barges not us little pleasure crafts.  Lagney has a lovely quay and we enjoy a walk around the town before taking a beverage in a local bar  before heading back to Nogent.

Jonathan at the helm!
Jonathan at the helm!

We decide to take Bluegum into Paris on Sunday but are thwarted by the bank holiday Easter Sunday and find the tunnel and locks closed for the day even though the guide books assure us they would be open – lesson learned not to believe everything you read….. We are forced to turn around and moor up again and instead take the train into Paris where we have much better weather and enjoy walking along the Seine with all the small huts selling a whole range of products including old books, photo’s, sketches together with the usual touristy gifts.  passing the Louvre and many of the sights Paris provides.  The architecture is magnificent but one day only allows a cursory look in this wonderful city.

The Paris Arsenal - we had hoped to moor here but the winter moorers seem reluctant to move
The Paris Arsenal – we had hoped to moor here but the winter moorers seem reluctant to move

A craze that has caught on since 2008 is for lovers to place a lock on a bridge expressing their undying love for each other  and then throwing the key into the Seine which apparently means the love is unbreakable – thus making some local entrepreneurs rich who, if one was cynical (which of course I am not!), probably return at the end of the day with duplicate keys to retrieve the locks for the next days suckers!!!! Clearly not everyone is happy with this trend as a petition was started in 2014 titled ‘The No Love Locks’ campaign by residents of  Paris appalled by the estimated 700,000 padlocks now attached to locations across the French capital, the weight of which could be putting the structural integrity of the city’s architecture at risk – and there I was thinking Paris was the city of love.

Love locks - cover several bridges along the Seine
Love locks – cover several bridges along the Seine

With tired feet and dry mouths we find a lovely little bistro on one of the quieter streets and enjoy a little meal with the obligatory bottle of wine. We then continue with our sightseeing before stopping for the worse cup of coffee in our lives deciding it was time to return to Nogent.  Walking back from the train station I manage to trip over a piece of twine which miraculously wrap around my feet which results in me falling ungracefully but very painfully on the pavement.  My first thoughts were to my very painful knee, my second was to my embarrassment of  being sprawled along the ground.  Anyway all negatives have a positive so after hobbling home Daniel and Jonathan supplied me with rum and ginger only for medicinal purposes you understand before they set about making a lovely chicken curry for them and veggie curry for me and then did all the washing up – I must fall over more often. I think I push my luck with all this sympathy though as I put on my favourite dvd for us all to watch; Leap Year.  I know it is really soppy but I also think its very funny – apparently I’m the  one……

Pontneuf bridge - the first stone bridge built across the Seine in Paris without buildings on it
Pontneuf  – the first stone bridge built across the Seine in Paris without buildings on it

We have more luck on Monday and find the tunnel and locks open so with a little trepidation head into Paris to be soon amongst the large and fast tourist boats who give no quarter to us.  The waterway around the Isle de Citiée has a one way and timed system and yep you’ve guessed it we arrive just as it closes in our direction but Charles does what can only be described as a sterling job at manoeuvring the boat around in between the fast and unsympathetic tourist boats, not to mention the commercial barges to enable us to moor up for lunch near no other than the infamous Notre Dame.

Moored for lunch near Notre Dame
Moored for lunch near Notre Dame

When we get the green light we set off for a truly wonderful trip along the Seine, passing the Eiffel Tower and feel quite like royalty as we wave to the many tourists enjoying the sunshine on the banks of The Seine.   Sightseeing by river provides an interesting and different perspective of this vibrant city and Charles and I agree it is one of boating highlights as we enter into our eighth year of boating. Click on a picture for a slide show:

Its not long before we have to turn around to drop the boys off as they have to return to the UK.  The time has flown by far too fast for my liking but we have all enjoyed a great bank holiday weekend together.  Fortunately we find a suitable mooring and as usual I shed a few tears as we hug and say goodbye. Daniel and Jonathan heading for the Eurostar and us back to Nogent.

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