wightmistress.wordpress.com – update please

Saturday 25 August 2012 – Meaux to Mary sur Marne

For some obscure reason we had not been sleeping too well of late. Last night it peaked and we gave up at 0500 and watched some movies. Steve leapt ashore at 0600 to find the only baker open in Meaux (up near the Cathedral) to pick up 2 lovely warm baguettes (which we had with butter and honey) and some pain au chocolat (which we had with hot chocolate – very French.)

Had to go into the Office de Tourisme to pay for our water and electricity (the berth is ‘free’) then got under way around 1100. Long stretches of the Marne with few locks today, in fact we only did one lock in about 24 kilometres. Windy yet brightly sunny and lots of cumulo nimbus cloud. While waiting in front of the lock we were facing the barrage – a waterfall of water from the higher side. The current where we were matched the tail wind perfectly allowing us to perform some interesting ferry gliding without engine while awaiting our turn in the lock.

Arrived at a little pontoon just big enough for Wight Mistress at 1520 and stopped for the day. Very quiet here, apart from the railway bridge astern of us and the road bridge just ahead. Oh yes, we seem to also be on the flight path for Orly Airport as well; hopefully the French will go to bed sometime soon.

Settled down to an evening on our own, for the first time in what seems like weeks.

Overnight Mary sur Marne 49 00.837N 003 01.401E

Friday 24 August 2012 – Vaires/Lagny to Meaux

Got going around 1000 today and carried on along the Marne. The river Marne is ‘canalised’ in places to avoid large chunks of meandering stream that have silted up badly, while streamlining the river for commercial peniche traffic. As a result the plaisanciers such as we enjoy the benefits. Vive les Voies Navigables de France. We covered 22 km and only a small handful of locks, arriving at Meaux mid afternoon. Just down from the halt (in the middle of the town) is a park with a beach onto the river Marne which is fenced off for safe bathing. We wandered down there for a swim. Strange feeling, swimming in water that doesn’t taste salty – it also doesn’t help you float much either. Back for a lovely dinner onboard and a few episodes of ‘Serenity’ and an early night.

Overnight Meaux 48 57.398N 002 52.895E

Thursday 23 August 2012 – Paris Arsenal to Vaires sur Marne/Lagny

We departed this morning, saying ‘au revoir’ to Bob and Martha. Bob has an all-important appointment with the dentist this afternoon to have a dodgy gnasher sorted out. We wish them well with their voyage back to Canada via the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic (Canaries to West Indies) and up the Intra-Coastal Waterway of the United States. We hope to see them again.

Overnight Vaires sur Marne/Lagny 48 52.208N 002 39.165E

Wednesday 22 August 2012 – Paris Arsenal

Bob and Martha went off on bus tours today, taking in all the sights of Paris and planning their next visit. They have friends coming to visit them and will be alongside here for another week or two, before heading east to find the Danube and the route to the Black Sea. They came and dined with us this evening and as a leaving gift we presented them with ‘1000 Years of Annoying the French’ and ‘Paris Revealed’, two particularly good books by Stephen Clarke, author of the ‘Merde’ series.

Overnight Paris Arsenal 48 50.931N 002 22.008E

Tuesday 21 August 2012 – Paris Arsenal

We went off to visit Versailles. Lying southwest of Paris, the ‘C’ Train takes you from the Gare D’Austerlitz along past the Louvres, then across the Seine and past Musee D’Orsay and the Tour Eiffel. (Didn’t see much, the train was underground.) Arrived at Versailles about 50 minutes or so later. The palace is quite impressive at first look, but it is not particularly well managed from a visitor perspective: 45 minutes queueing just to get a ticket in to the place. During the wait and about half way round the line is a small room full of ticket dispensing machines, mostly unused. The other half of the queue takes you (one assumes) to a couple of little old ladies and a ‘John Bull’ ticket printing set. It took us the 45 minutes to find the machines, use them and then tackle our way back out of the line. Once this bit is done, one then crosses the courtyard (about the same size as St Peters Square in Rome) to join another queue for an hour to actually get into the chateau. Once in, you could probably lift your feet off the deck and be carried by the tide of humanity and digital cameras. Not bad inside, we both felt the chateau at Fontainebleu was just as pretty, historical and better furnished and MUCH easier to get in. Our favourite chateau so far was Chantilly.

If you, dear reader, do decide to visit Versailles, please don’t let this tome put you off. Just wear stout shoes, carry a bottle of drinking water and a hat to protect you from the sun and be prepared for a bout of back ache on completion. We caught the train back and hopped off at the Tour Eiffel on the off chance of getting up the tower. Not a hope. The queues were even longer than for Versailles. Tip-top tip, get on the web and book your tickets for anything you want to do before you turn up and you will save a huge amount of time and frustration. I asked an official at Tour Eiffel and he confirmed this. Hey ho, 20-20 hindsight etc.

Overnight Paris Arsenal 48 50.931N 002 22.008E

Monday 20 August 2012 – Paris Arsenal

Visited the Louvres today. As the well-informed Parisien visitor knows, everything shuts on Monday EXCEPT the Louvres, which shuts on a Tuesday (we discovered this on visiting last year – who says we don’t learn from our mistakes?) There is soooooo much to see in the Louvres that a couple of hours research on the web would come in handy, so you can chart your course through what is an ENORMOUS museum and see the bits you want to see. Steve’s sister Lesley visited the Louvres a few years ago and there were professional ‘freelance guides’ prepared to show you the sights if you crossed their palms with silver. Since the inception of the pyramid in the central square, where the new reception is, it seems they are a little thin on the ground – either that or we didn’t look hard enough. Anyway, very interesting and loads to see. One particularly good bit was the foundations of the old palace, unearthed when they dug the new entrance under the central square. It had been preserved and is under the huge slab of concrete that forms the base of the central square. Decided against walking back from the Louvres, even though we walked there, and caught the bus back to La Bastille where the marina is. Arrived back, knackered.

Overnight Paris Arsenal 48 50.931N 002 22.008E

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