Monday, July 23, 2007

SAINT MAMMES AND THE DBA RALLY IN PARIS

We had intended to stay in St. Mammes a couple of days, but we liked it so much that we ended up staying for 2 weeks. There are a lot of great things about St. Mammes. It is on The Seine, so the spectacle of seeing the large peniches, laden or empty going in opposite directions is quite an experience. The town extends along the quay facing the river, and it has little restaurants, a butcher shop, a bakery, a small chandler's store, a small supermarket and the setting is idyllic.

After our friends Ronnie and Nigel left, Bill continued to work on the wiring of his dash board and control panels. One rainy day, as I was ironing, I looked out and What did I see across the river at the fuel dock? ANFRA, the boat where we lived in Cambrai while we worked on Biesbosch. I picked up the phone and called Rosemary to let her know that Bill was running across the bridge to meet them. We talked them into staying at the dock for the night and have dinner with us. It was a joint effort. Rosemary and Andrew brought a great bottle of Champagne and a quiche and we provided the foie gras and a salad. It was a great evening on Biesbosch and a fantastic way to meet with our friends. They had told us about the Nivernais Rally, so we will be meeting them at Chatillon en Bazois at the end of July to participate together.

The following day, our friends Susan and Doug from Quo Vadis tied their boat up near ours, and a couple of days later, Dave and Juliet Webb of Jubilant, tied theirs up along the quay. These two boats were on their way to Paris for the DBA Rally, as were several others that we saw there. We had drinks on Jubilant, which is a magnificent boat, and then had Dave and Juliet and Doug and Susan for drinks on Biesbosch. As we were talking about the DBA Rally in Paris, we mentioned that we would be going by car and would be staying in a hotel. David suggested that we stay on Jubilant instead so we could be in the middle of it all. We were of course, delighted to comply.

On June 28 we drove to Paris and drove straight to the Bassin de la Villette where the event was to take place. There were about half the participating boats there, since the rest would be arriving on Friday. We saw many boats we knew, said hello to Paul and Bertha King of Tarahumara, Mike and Pippa of Sterna, Jerry and Barbara of Vivante, and a few others. We parked the car by the boats and took the train to Bastille so we could look at some more boats--for a change -- at the port of Arsenal. From there we walked to my niece's neighborhood in Nation and met her and her husband for dinner at a place where we had eaten when the family was here last winter.

I was surprised to see how well Sylvia is recovering after such major knee surgery. It has been 12 weeks and she is already setting her foot down, and the swelling is entirely gone. We had a lovely dinner together and planned to eat a Sunday meal before our return to St. Mammes. We went back to the port, checked in on Jubilant, where we were shown to our beautiful cabin, had drinks with Dave, Juliet and the other guests, and had a great night sleep. Breakfasts on Jubilant were fantastic and plentiful and not served until 9:00, so we could all sleep in. Friday Bill and I had to go to the American Consulate to notarize signatures for some bank business in Miami. When we arrived there, after going through all the security, the place was packed with people. We thought we might have to be there all morning, but their system is so efficient, that in 30 minutes we were done. We walked to a Fed Ex office, sent the documents, so now we could enjoy ourselves.

We were near the Opera, where the large department stores are, so we did a bit of shopping. The big sales were going on, so we found pants and a few things for Bill, and a couple for me. After a small lunch, we went to find some foie gras at a place near the Louvre, but the shop was closed. The sign on the door indicated opening at 13:30. We took a walk, came back, but no sign of life. We decided to go across the street to have a coffee, and around 2:15, as we were about to give up, the fellow came in, opened the store, no apology at all, although we told him we had been waiting for 45 minutes. We bought what we wanted, walked along St. Honore and in the early evening got back to Jubilant. Friesland and La Chouette and our friends Tam and Di and Bob and Bobbie had arrived earlier. We saw them briefly before dinner and decided to eat at the Israeli restaurant by the port, but being Friday, it was closed. What a disappointment. We had seen it so full and lively the night before. It was the Sabbath, so nothing to do. On Jaures we had noticed a few ethnic restaurants, so we went to check them out. The one that appealed to us, a small Indian and Pakistani proved to be the right choice. It was as authentic and fabulous as one can find. We had stayed away from Indian food in France, because it is usually cooked to the French taste, so the spices are not quite there. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, walked back to Jubilant, had an after dinner drink with David and Juliet and retired for the night.

On Saturday after breakfast, Bill took the car to a parking garage, so I went for a walk along the basin. I heard my name called, and it was Tag Caisley, our friend from Cambrai, who had taken the train to see the rally. We had a long chat and I took him over to meet Dave in Jubilant. He had a beer, saw the boat and left to see the rest of his friends. Sadly, Bill did not get to see him. Later, when he arrived, we watched Tam and Di do a demonstration on Barge handling. It is always interesting to see that, especially the two of them who do it so well. To the French who live in the neighborhood this event was most interesting since it brought such color and life to the basin which is virtually empty all year long.

In the early evening, we changed to go to have drinks on Sterna before going to eat with Bertha and Paul on a boat called Libertijn, which was tied up to theirs. Doug and Susan were on Sterna along with Pippa's daughter and two other British couples. We had a great time on the rear deck of this beautiful boat and very much lamented the absence of our dear friends Ronnie and Nigel and their boat Blokzjil.

Bertha was cooking a Mexican meal for 8 people. Dan and Emma, Americans, and owners of Libertijn were in charge of the Margaritas, the real thing. The other couple, we had met in Cambrai last year when they had stopped by the port in their camping car. What a small world! We had a fabulous evening and a wonderful time eating and drinking on deck. I helped Emma bring the dishes down to the kitchen, and I could not believe my eyes! This boat was so beautiful inside, so different from anything I had ever seen, but yet it looked familiar. Two years ago, I had read an article written about Libertijn in House and Garden, the British magazine. The boat is extremely comfortable inside, open space, island with professional stove in the kitchen, home theater in the salon, and the most beautiful woodwork in cherry and maple. It is all very modern and colorful, except for their cabin which was redone with the oak salvaged from the original cabin; superbly done. There is a full marble bathtub in front of their bed. Dan and Emma come from San Francisco and live on the boat most of the year. They are very gracious and generous hosts.

On Sunday, after visiting with friends and saying good bye, we drove to Sylvia and Laurent's for a Sunday lunch. They has roasted chicken, an avocado and tomato salad, delicious potatoes and some great wine.
We had a wonderful afternoon with them and then drove back to St. Mammes where we had left Biesbosch.


Bassin de La Villette, Paris


Di demostrating rope handling from Friesland


Beautiful Jubilant


An assortment of Dutch Barges


Mexican meal on Libertjin

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