In our last blog we were about to make the final leg of our journey along the River Seine into Paris. Before we left this peaceful area of the Impressionists we had a ‘task’ to complete: In my blog way back when we were still in Belgium we mentioned the BBC wanted to film, for a special website, Stewart and our adventures on board Endellion.
Two days before our departure from Rueil Malmaison the crew arrived headed up by Producer, Kate Ansell. We had a great time with them .. even the big showers didn’t spoil the day of filming .. the only challenge for the professional crew was the rather unprofessional hanger on. In one shot Graham (cameraman) was carefully spanning with his heavy camera, and suddenly he could see my legs. I didn’t realise, as I stood on the roof of Endellion, that I would be in shot .. I wanted to capture the crew filming Stewart but in fact they also captured two legs extending from our roof. They patiently did another ‘take’ and all was well.
We couldn’t believe how lucky we were when on Monday 25th October we had a brilliant blue sky for our journey into the heart Paris to our marina.
We had two locks and just over 40 kilometres to travel .. apparently (according to the marina lock-keepers and others) this journey should take eight hours, but we are slow travelers and expect to take a little longer.
We have very little to say about our journey .. it was fabulous, and we have lots to show in our photos.
We had a slight hair raiser .. at the lock at Suresnes where we had to moor off as the lights were red.
Two commercial barges had entered as we approached and I was glad we didn’t have to go inside with them (they are scary at times!). It wasn’t long and we received the green/red lights to say get ready – these are double locks so they must have opened the second lock. As we started to pull away from the bank, the mooring rope released, heading nicely for the open lock still some distance away, we could suddenly see heading straight for us, like a greyhound out of the starting gate, a massive commercial barge. It is amazing how fast these mighty beasts can go.. but you never expect them to come out of a lock at such a speed. Stewart switched to the usual routine in these circumstances, threw on full reverse. We had plenty of room but you never want to get too close, they don’t hesitate, and we take a while to stop.
Once inside the massive lock, which took us up over three meters, the lock keeper leaned out of the window in his tower to tell me, in French, not to go too far forward. He was being very helpful as the lock fills by water swirling in at the end and therefore it’s extremely turbulent there. We were all on our own in this huge lock .. my one rope on the middle ring of our boat was all that held us (as usual) and thanks to the lock keeper’s advice we had a gentle rise up and popped out of the lock into, once again, quite a different scene. We have found so often when you move through a lock up or down the scenery is quite different on the other side.
This time it was row after row of redeployed small commercial barges strung on each side of the banks of the Seine, now used as homes.
When I said to Stewart we’re about to see the Statue of Liberty he thought I was joking, or “we are badly lost” he said .. but sure enough we passed this odd miniature replica (its 35 feet high) .. before we next came to the seriously special Eiffel Tower – for quite a while we had both landmarks in view, a very odd mix indeed.
The replica Statue of Liberty is one-fifth the height of the original, and was given by the American community in Paris. I didn’t know until I checked on this replica via Wikipedia that the original Statue of Liberty was built here in Paris, a gift to the United States from the people of France, and shipped to New York in crates!
By now, as we approached these major landmarks, we had tourist boats flying by .. some of them looked more like flying machines than boats .. all see-through plastic to provide the tourists with better views.. and arching out over the water to cram as many people on board as possible. They are like Gods here.. you don’t mess around with them!
They go so fast between stops they overtake us several times on one short stretch.. to them we must look like a floating snail crawling along the water surface.
The final short stretch was between the islands, Ile de la Cite where Notre Dame seems to stretch for miles and the Ile St-Louise.
We were now at the end of the main tourist run where the lock into our marina awaited us at the start of the Canal de Saint-Martin. This was a small lock for us .. so we went through very comfortably and were tucked away in the corner just inside the marina well within the expected eight-hour journey.
We have Maximilian behind us, owned by Charlie from the UK who also happens to work for the BBC and splits his time between London and Paris. We have fellow Aussies, Lesley and John with their dog Chloe in a Dutch barge just ahead of us .. and have just said goodbye to other Aussies who are now headed back to The Netherlands.
It’s a great community here at the Arsenal .. many English speaking French residents, and many very helpful people with Franglais to assist me with my hopeless French. Everyone at the marina management is ultra-helpful and always happy having questions thrown at them .. and they speak excellent English, and/or are very patient with those who can’t speak much French!
We couldn’t have found a better place for facilities such as electric and water supply (right beside us) and practical things like the black water (the loo tank) pumpout where we have a point close by (with no smells!!). When we were at Limehouse in London two years ago we had to take our boat out of the mooring and around the tightly packed boats to a pumpout station, so we are spoilt here. A slight downside is that our satellite dish is staring straight at a five meter high wall behind which are all the satellites for TV reception (so we draw a blank) .. and the Wi-Fi for internet from the Harbourmaster’s Office doesn’t quite reach us. We have our own on-board 3G (mobile phone technology, so it’s slow and doesn’t allow use of Skype for telephone) and we are certainly not complaining as there’s a long, excellent ramp up to a huge common room where we can sit in comfort and use our laptops for Skype calls.
We’ve had a week here now to settle in and have already started our usual boat maintenance with the help of Clive, who is a brilliant mechanic/engineer, tracked down through the marina management. Sensibly we are pacing our maintenance between the total pleasure of pottering around the streets close by, occasionally eating at fabulous low-key restaurants, site-seeing and preparing our plan for serious cultural indulgence at places like Centre Pompidou and the Musees d’Orsay and Louvre. We’re also hoping to see Jo and Daniel in the next few days.. all the way from our Milsons Passage home.
Signing off for now .. we’ll be in touch again soon and send our love to family and friends.
Lesley and Stewart