Sunday, September 17, 2006

FROM THE CANAL DU LOING TO THE CANAL DE BRIARE

We stayed at Moret sur Loing for six nights. The Port de Plaisance was beautiful and very convenient for us to do a bit of work on the boat before our friend Debbie and Richard arrived. On Saturday, Sept. 2, the last Sound and Light show of the season on Alfred Sisley's life was taking place. We bought tickets and hope it would not be canceled because of rain. At this point, we were still having a lot of light sprinkles every day, and ten minutes before the show, it started to rain, but luckily, it did not last but a few minutes. The show started on the banks of the River Loing with the town wall, ancient mills, bridge and church as background, just as Sisley had painted so many times when he lived there. I had mentioned that he had been born in Moret. He was born in England, but lived and died in Moret. He is our son Ian's favorite impressionist painter.

While moored at the port, we met Matty, a Dutch lady who lives on her small boat with Dusty, her beautiful dog, and whose boyfriend was coming with supplies and materials to do some work on her boat. It was great for Bill, because, he and George, Matty's friend were able to do some wood work together for a couple of days.

Richard and Debbie arrived on Tuesday, Sept 5, at 11:30 AM. They took the train from Paris, a ride of about one hour. They brought the sun with them, and we have had id now for 10 days. It was so exciting to have Debbie and Richard with us! We celebrated their arrival with a few cold beers and a light lunch of cheeses and munchies, many of which they brought from Paris. We relaxed, did a lot of catching up and went into town to explore. In the afternoon, we decided to walk to St. Mammes, the town we had briefly stopped at on our way to Moret. It is on The Seine, so we took a leisurley walk to it, under a hot sun. We wanted to have dinner at a restaurant that had been recommended by friends, but unfortunately it was closed. Debbie and I went into an Art gallery while the guys checked out the chandlery across the river. We got back to the boat, and Debbie and I prepared a lovely meal. It is so much fun to cook on Biesbosch, but it is even better to share with your friends.

The Chateau de Fointainebleau is a few minutes away by train, so the next day we decided to go see it. We packed a picnic lunch and took the train to Avon Station, where Richard and Debbie made their arrangements for their train to Paris and to Barcelona. From the station, we walked through the town and across some of the gardens of the Chateau. We sat along one of the long reflecting pools, among the trees and had our picnic lunch. We then continued to walk to the Chateau, which is quite large, and one that has an incredible history. It has been used by kings and heads of state from the XIII C. until Napoleon III. We took a tour of The Main Apartments which had been the private quarters of Francis I, Louis Philippe, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette as well as Napoleon I. The decor was elegant to excess. There were some beautiful frescoes and Gobelin tapestries in many of the rooms. The tour must have taken us over an hour. We walked to the train station, this time the long way so by the time we got back to the boat, we were exausted and thirsty. We sat on the boat and quenched our thirst, a a few munchies and prepared dinner together. Our wheelhouse-diningroom-guest bedroom facility works rather well, and Debbie and Richard became experts at assembling and disassembling it in no time.

On Thursday, we cast off after lunch, the first canal experience for our friends. The first lock was right at our mooring, an automatic one, but the lock keeper wanted to see the boat papers--all in order -- and off we went. The rest of the locks were manual, so Richard would get off and help the lock keepers open the gates. Often boaters give them something, so we thought a couple of bottles of cold beer would be a good idea. They were very grateful. We navigated through some lovely countryside and arrived in Nome's at 5:30 PM. We moored just after the lock before the bridge. There was no electricity or water, but our baatteries were charged and our water tanks full. We tied the boat and walked into town to see the XII C castle and bridge in the middle of town on the river. We found a market, bought some beer for the lock keepers and went back to the boat. After a good night sleep, we had breakfast and cast off at around 11:00 AM. The countryside along this stretch of the canal was magnificent. Lush vegetation, narrow passages, lovely bridges and some beautiful locks full of flowers.

Next morning, cool, but sunny, we set off To Montargis for Saturday market. It was a short distance, so we left at 10:45 AM. we had only a few locks to pass, but we had to wait at one for another boat behind us, who turned to be Matty's Lucky Duck. Then, about 40 minutes into our navigation, the water temperature alarm went off, signaling that the engine could be overheating. We pulled up along the side, tied the boat to a couple of trees, Bill checked the problem which turned out to be debris in the water intake. He quickly cleaned it up, and off we went. We were so afraid we might not make the market which would end at 12:30 or 1:00 PM. As we approached the town, we had to go through 2 more locks, a small one and the last one over 5 Mts. high. The first one was not working, so Deb and I got off the boat and walked to the next one to see if we could talk to the lock keeper. She was letting a boat in, and told us she would activate ours, which she did. The 200 Mts. between the first lock and the second, were beautiful. Here we were going right through this gorgeous little town, a French Venice with beautiful architecture and lovely little bridges. At the exit of the lock was The Port de Plaisance, where we moored the boat, locked it up and walked towards the center of town, a couple of blocks where the market was set up. It was great. Here we were going right through this gorgeous little town, a French Venice with beautiful architecture and lovely little bridges. At the exit of the lock was The Port de Plaisance, where we moored the boat, locked it up and walked towards the center of town, a couple of blocks where the market was set up. IT WAS STILL THERE! It was great that Richard and Debbie were able to experience it. There were all kinds of stands, with fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses and creams, butchers, fishmongers, the works. We decided to buy some roasted chickens with the potatoes cooked in their drippings, a couple of quail and even some roast rabbit for Richard. We sat at a nearby cafe and had a beer while our lunch was being cooked on the pit. We brought the feast to the boat and set up a picnic lunch at the picnic table in front of it. The port was beautiful, with a wooden quay, modern lighting and lovely landscaping. It was hot, but we had a great lunch. Riverdance, a boat owned by Pamela and Bruce from British Columbia was there. We had met them in Moret. After lunch, they came by and so did Barry and Karen, Americans whom we had met in Roanne early in the spring. Their boat Eleanor, had passed by in Moret. After a bit of a nap, we went into town to explore and found out they were having a type of sidewalk sale, so there were lots of people around. The town has some gorgeous areas, especially the Quartier des Pecheurs, mostly half-timbered houses, set on the canals, with flowers everywhere. We walked up to The Castle from where you can see the town above, down again, across to a lovely park by the canal. That evening we had a light meal on board, accompanied by a great bottle of champagne, and I made a reservation at L'Orangerie du Lac for Sunday lunch. It had been highly recommended by friends, so we thought it would be a lovely last meal with Richard and Debbie. After a brisk walk to the next lock along the tow path (9 Kms) , Debbie and I felt tired, but so did Bill and Richard. They had been working on the boat, while we were away, Richard washing the boat and Bill on the new cooling system. We showered and walked to the restaurant, which was an experience in itself. A fabulous dinner accompanied by a great Loire wine, a local one, very refreshing. We all had different dishes, and loved them all. After such a meal, as we walked to the boat, a very drunk gentleman approached the boat and insisting on coming in to see it. Richard, very politely tried to disuade him, but he could not understand "No". I called the police, a within minutes there were four officers who came, handcuffed him and took him away. AFter the meal and this little "episode" we all took a nap on the deck of the boat under our umbrella. In the evening, another "light" meal and off to bed.

Monday, after breakfast, We had our last few ours with Richard and Debbie. We flew our American flag to commemorate September 11. Before noon, a taxi came to take our friends to the station where they would be going to Paris and from there to Barcelona, changing trains at Montpellier. It was truly sad to say good bye to Debbie and Richard. They were the perfect guests, who enjoyed everything, and with whom we have been able to share our dream from the beginning. We are blessed with such good friends.

After their departure, I felt such vacuum inside, I knew I had to be busy, so I did four loads of laundry. It was hot outside, so I hung it all to dry. We found a Piaggio shop in town, so we took our motor scooter to be looked at. We had not run it in a year, and could not start it. We left it there, and two hours later got back to find it running perfectly. The carburetor was replaced, so now we have our little scooter working. It is a great thing to have while we do not have the car with us. We might be going to Cambrai this weekend to pick it up.

Yesterday, Sept 12, we left Montargis at 11:30, destination Chatillon Coligny. At the second lock we had to wait for an hour--lunch time for the lock keepers -- so we tied up, had our lunch, and promptly at 1:00 PM the lock was opened for us. There we a series of locks, the last four, that were over 4 Mts. high. At all but one, there were keepers, but we managed that one on our own. There was a stretch of over 12 Kms between locks, so I did my step dancing on the bow. It is the greatest thing listening to my music and exercising to it. The people that go by, seem to love it. They all wave and give us thumbs up.

We arrived at this gorgeous little town, whose 300 year old canal is in great shape, with a lovely Port de Plaisance where Eleanor was tied up. Soon after Barry and Karen arrived from a 112 KM bike ride. They are serious bikers. They had us over for "a drink" but we wound up having a few more, I had some pork chops and a few other things, so I brought dinner over, and we had a lovely evening with them. This morning, Bill and I went to see the town and decided to go to The Castle and the museum in the afternoon. We are thinking about leaving Biesbosch here for a few days while we go to get our car in Cambrai. We shall see.






























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