Monday July 3.
It was a slow start to the day on Monday with only a short hop to Nogent-sur-Marne. Luckily we had booked a mooring because we took the last space in a very busy marina. The sun came out in the evening so we took a stroll through the park that runs parallel to the river. There are some stunning houses along the river with a variety of architectural styles and we are starting to see a few very modern houses now which make the most of the sun. Lots of big windows.We ate dinner on the deck and watched the river traffic pass by.
Tuesday July 4th. Today was the big day! Paris here we come. First up we moored on the fuel pontoon in Nogent and put in just over 200 litres. The boat has been very economical, just 2.8 litres per engine hour. Also the new engine water cap is proving its €50 cost. No problems now, we are happy to report. Hurrah!
After refuelling we continued down the Marne to a 600m tunnel. The lights were red so Alan called the eclusier on VHF channel 20 as indicated in the chart book but didn’t get a reply so I called the cellphone number and was told 10-15 min wait but after 5 mins the light went green so we figured we’d head on in. We were followed by a boat of Sapiers-Pompiers (firemen) who gave us a cheerie wave. We immediately came to a lock with double red lights and saw there was work going on so we waited about 10 mins and then got the green light. The lock was deep and very big and took a while to descend. Very gentle though. Lots of large spiders hanging off the walls which I did not enjoy. Yuck.
After the lock, 3 large commercials passed us from the other direction and we came to the next lock with double red lights again. We floated around waiting to see what would happen. We heard some talking on channel 19 and I caught ‘bateau de plaisance’. Hmm we figured that was us. I turned around and right behind us was a massive double barge plus pusher bearing down on us. That gave me such a fright it was actually quite funny. Obviously he was asking us politely to get out of his way so we doubled back around him and tied to a waiting pontoon. He tied up ahead on a commercial pontoon and we waited. We weren’t sure if we could even fit in the lock with this mammoth.
Finally the lights went green and the big guy headed in. I called on the radio asking if we could squeeze in and the eclusier said yes so we snuck in at the back next to the pusher part. A little bit nerve wracking but it was a very slow lock so no problems. Finally we headed off the Marne and onto the Seine. We made it to Paris!
The last lock was into the Arsenal. Alan called the Capitain and he set the lock so there was no waiting. The lock was 3.5m and fast flowing but once through they gave us a berth number and with help from our guardian angel Alan from Arwen we were tied up nice and snug in the Arsenal.
It was a big moment for us, 6 years in the making, and a surreal feeling ticking off a bucket list item. We remember walking through the Arsenal marina many times, looking at those lucky people on their boats and vowing we would do that one day.
And we did!
Wednesday July 5th. We took the metro and the RER train out to Charles de Gaulle airport to meet daughter Georgie off her flight from New Zealand. The weather was very hot and muggy so back onboard we opened a bottle of champagne to toast her arrival and relaxed on the deck. It was still 30° at 10.30pm and I couldn’t sleep, even with a fan on the cabin was stifling.
Thursday July 6th. Another hot and muggy day with thunder, lightening and torrential rain in the morning. We headed out for some exploring after the storm passed, walking along the Seine to the Notre Dame and back across to the Louvre, Les Tuileries and finally the Musée de l’Orangerie, an art gallery displaying Monet’s massive Waterlilly series as well as beautiful works by Matisse, Gaugin, Cezanne (my favourite) and other Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists. A small but stunning building and virtually no queues (if the ticket machine hadn’t broken we wouldn’t have had to wait at all). Well worth a look if the size and crowds of the Louvre are too daunting.
It was a beautiful evening and to top it off a crazy Mariachi/jazz/Dixieland band played outside the Capitainerie, opposite our mooring. Bonus! We didn’t go to bed until late when the temperature dropped below 30°.
So an eventful week. It is amazing being on the boat here, like having our own holiday home in the centre of Paris. I could stay for a month, (in fact we met a kiwi couple on their boat who are staying for two months). But at €42 a night, although very cheap for Paris, is expensive so we will have to tear ourselves away at some point!
Here are the stats:
Lagny-sur-Marne to Nogent -sur-Marne. 2.4 engine hours, 20kms, 2 locks
Nogent-sur-Marne to Paris l’Arsenal. 3.2 engine hours, 12kms, 3 locks and 1 short tunnel.
Totals from St Jean-de-Losne to Paris. (48 days)
Engine hours: 90.7