Monthly Archives: September 2014

Arriving in the City of Light

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There wasn’t quite the sense of awe this time as we cruised down the Seine and arrived in Paris.  Instead the feeling of pleasant relief and comfort knowing we were coming back again to the familiar.  It was a bright blue sky day, the journey from Lagny was short and we knew the slip would be empty and waiting. So there was no stress to hurry.  Approaching the lock into the Arsenal we were asked by radio to wait – there was a small pleasure boat, Sirius, already in the lock chamber and a couple gendarmes beside it in a zodiac were checking the captain’s papers. Odd. We made wide circles on the Seine in front of the “door” into the Arsenal, awaiting permission to lock through.  After about 15 minutes, the gendarmes got what they wanted, peeled out of the lock and we entered in behind Sirius, still curious about the delay.

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Locking up to the port and looking forward, the July column on the Place de la Bastille lay straight ahead…We weren’t quite sure who our neighbors would be this winter but that didn’t matter.  It was a happy arrival.  With no wind kicking up in the port and no tour boat hogging the fairway, Bill moored perfectly – with the help our new neighbor Beatrice, our crew Jay and Yvette, Guy and Marleen and moi,  With that many helping hands mooring can be a disaster!  But it was perfect.

Political Rally at Bastille - 08

The quiet country moorings of the last months are far behind us!  The cacophony of Paris eventually will disappear as white noise, but now the rumble of the metro, burble of boat engines waiting for the lock to open, cackling birds on the water and murmuring pigeons on the wall, little tooting horns and the more demanding ones blaring around the Place de la Bastille, squealing breaks and the blaring relentless police chases, zooming vroom-vrooming motorcycles, the endless clanking of construction scaffolding being raised to new heights, the noisy jibberish of merry makers lunching on the Arsenal’s wall . . .  our neighbor’s gentle chimes tinkling in the breeze and the rare pockets of silence occurring between these sounds make up this cacophony of Paris…but now we know we are here and are wrapped up in these sounds.

Friends and neighbors gather to help each other in, at the lock and to moor, as if it was just yesterday we said goodbye.  Treasures in the neighborhood are many . . .

Anna arriving

Anna arriving

Yves on Isabelle

Yves on Isabelle

Yves, handsome in his Panama hat, Anna, her southern charm always welcoming, Annick the official photographer, the white and ginger cat, Papagaeno, moving silently, exploring, missing nothing but the tips of his ears, are but a few. And my constant beacon, the genie at the top of the verdigris July column, changing with the light as the gauzy sky of morning brightens to reveal his golden self perched upon a golden orb. That is the object in my long view from the back deck.  And for as long as the days are fair, this is where my days begin and end.

September is beautiful . . . old friends and new ones visit our Paris neighborhood on the Seine, adding to our pleasure at being here.  Chat Lune still our treasured companion for 2 months, Jay and Yvette,  Penelope’s Arc, Moon Shadow,  and Cary stopping on his way to his walk on the pilgrim’s road to Compostelle. . . and why not?  Afterall, Paris is the center of the western world, right?

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Not There Yet

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Given the choice or traveling in the rain or not, NOT is usually the choice but it sometimes happens that we must press on . . . As it did one long, long drizzly day just to be in the port at Joinville before Aug 15, Assumption day, one of the few days in the year when France literally closes. We wanted to make a 2 day stop at the Joinville port which is supposed to have electricity . . . But at the end of that long dreary day we found all the electrical connections on the quai were broken. Still, what lovely relief it was to be moored before the heavy rain and gusty wind grab the day in a grip of wild sogginess, just to spend a quiet afternoon reading.

Joinville did turn out to be a good stop . . . The bright blue sky replaced the dreary gray one and the entire town celebrated! Or were the colorful streamers of flags draped across every street for the Assumption?

It was as we were looking from the new bridge down the river to the old bridge that we had a rather touching encounter with an elderly lady taking a rest from her morning stroll.  She greeted us and we did the same which started a conversation about the hard times in France economically, the flight of the young people from the small towns like Joinville for places with work opportunities which inadvertently leaves the older folks with fewer services and thus a harder life.  As we stood there the mail delivery person had a familiar cheery hello for her as did other passersby.  She was lovely.  And before parting she told our fortune . . .

The ancient bridge being repaired

The ancient bridge being repaired

The church in Joinville was interesting as they all are.  But one feature stood out here as different from all the other churches.  While many have guest books, this one included an apology and plea for forgiveness.

1944-2014

_MG_5811_MG_5869We left Meaux on Sunday to spend a night in Lagny, arriving there just as the ceremony celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Lagny by the Allies was about to begin.

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to the sound of the French National anthem the flags were dipped. British and American flags stood high

The day before, the “allies” and the “occupiers” re-enacted that historic day with a battle in the streets which ended with the Allies victoriously taking back the bridge over the Marne.  (See Guy’s photos posted at http://duquelu.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/lagny-et-la-bataille-du-pont-de-maunoury/#jp-carousel-9382)    It was very moving as these remembrances always are.

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pipers piped and a marching band played the national anthems.  Our Star Spangled Banner was brought shivers.

The pipers piped and a marching band played the national anthems. Our Star Spangled Banner was brought us shivers.

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We engaged in a conversation with an 88 year old Red Cross worker who saw the Americans arrive in 1944 to save her city.  A happy, fiesty little woman, she cried relating her experiences of that day.  And then took great pride in showing off the treasured US army jeep left after the war that she and her husband have restored. 

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He joined her, lifting the hood, explaining where the parts were found and was delighted that we, representing the Americans, came back!  It is so impressive to us how deeply appreciative the French still are of the sacrifices the Allies also made during WW2. Everyone was there, many dressed in period clothing, from the young children who only know the stories they are told of the period, to those who were children then and remember clearly still.  Being a part of a day to remember makes us thankful those awful battles were not fought on our lands . . . And hopeful for “never again” to be a reality.

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Morning

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Misty morning. . . leaving St Jean de Losne.

An early morning at its best . . .
At 6am a fisher person set up his fishing kit across the canal from our boat.  The patience unsurpassed by other sportsmen was about to begin.

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In a small clearing on the bank otherwise fully planted with 8 foot tall grasses with purple fronds gently waving in the morning breeze, a bucket of bait, bag of chum to toss in to the canal to tempt the fish up to his baited hooks, a net bag hanging low in the water where his hooked booty will live in captivity, and four long poles spike from the shore 2 meters across the water. Then the man himself perches on a camp stool to set the scene.  He sits still, watches intently as his colorful bobbins float before him, moved only by the motion of the water.   Occasionally a little wiggle on the line, occasionally a toss of chum, his eyes never leave the surface of the water.  Until he sees something change . . .Rising slowly on old legs, Wellington’s gooey from the muddy bank, he teases the line, letting it out, bringing it in, tiring the fish out until he reels it in.  First catch of the day, into the net bag . . The second and third catches were plopped into the bait bucket, too small for anything else. Today he may have to stop at the market before going home . . . One catch in an hour and a half is not much for dinner.  But this national pass time is not really about landing the big one . . .

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To Paris

The record of our 2014 journey on River Pipit from Paris, starting in May, can be found at http://www.billandgenevieve.com, the blog site we have used since 2008. We are changing from IWeb to WordPress with this first entry, picking up our cruise where the old site left off.

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Locking up and down the Canal de Champagne á Bourgogne, heading East on the Marne to the Seine and finally into Paris:
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We move with purpose from place to place, stopping in villages with unheralded names – Foulain, Chaumont, Froncles, Joinville – heading for our final and most heralded of cruising destinations, Paris.  Long before the boating season is actually over and well before the winter sets in, we are ready to stop. At least our bodies are crying out to stop!!!

Bill appreciating the gathering Queen

Bill appreciating the gathering Queen

I cannot always identify the differences between our ports of call without looking at date stamped photographs, nor can I always describe the interesting sites we find as the days and places all tend to blur together on this peaceful canal.

and the fresh corn . . . feed corn!

and the fresh corn . . . feed corn!

Gathering golden sweet mirabelles, firm wild pears and purple plums swollen with their juicy meat at each lock stop; making a compote, or tart or confiture daily from the bountiful fruit; sitting on our back decks in the setting sunshine sharing our dinner meals – these are the pleasures that marked each day.

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We continued on our tandem journey with Chat Lune for a month from St Jean de Losne to Meaux, the pick-up point to meet friends from home and for the 2 day cruise to Paris.  Collaborating on dinners every night, experimenting with new recipes and only cooking every other day has made the trip more delicious, and more fun. Sharing the company of these friends, kind and helpful people made the bucolic Canal de Champagne á Bourgogne a more interesting journey.

Squeezing by the dredger - if Chat Lune can make it so can River Pipit!

Squeezing by the dredger – if Chat Lune can make it so can River Pipit!

And not to mention easier.  With Chat Lune leading the way, the locks were always open . . .  Captain Guy’s philosophy is to share love and to share knowledge enthusiastically and freely. What better purpose to have? Both he and Marleen practice that and all are the better for for it!

Water works in the lock

Water works in the lock

Yard art at the lock . . . She has a troll mate - use your imagination!

Yard art at the lock . . . She has a troll mate – use your imagination!

Along with the endless fields, cows in the meadows, lush woods just beginning to change into their golden autumn glow, this canal has signs of industrial life.  We did not see more than a few commercial barges while cruising north on the the Champagne á Bourgogne (August is not much of a working month afterall), but the silos, cranes and quais exist.

Bucolic?

Bucolic?

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