Meaux - Samois-sur-Seine

Locks and Tunnel de Chalifert

Tuesday the 2nd of September we left Meaux for the second time – this time going downstream. After having done some shopping we left at 12:15PM. In between Meaux and Chalifert La Marne meanders a lot and/or is unnavigable, so instead of cruising on the river there’s the ‘Canal de Meaux à Chalifert’ (who would have guessed that name?), over a distance of 12 kilometers (7,5 miles). Just before re-entering the river two locks, one 3,20 meters, the other 3,34 meters deep (almost 22 feet in total) and only separated 700 meters (0,44 mile) from each other have to be descended. In between them is the Tunnel de Chalifert, 300 meters (0,19 miles, 1.000 feet). The direction, going downstream, leads from northwest to south-southwest. High in the sky the rail track of TGV-Nord is visible. This is what it looks like, seen from the bow of the ship. Enjoy and wait for the end (5:38)!

We ended up 3:30PM at Lagny-sur-Marne, having done 17 kilometers (10,5 miles) descending three locks, the described ones included. This spot is the same as already seen on the second picture, part of week 32. It’s even the same space as we’ve had 4 weeks ago – only a lot busier this time.

Lagny is a charming sort of town, so we decided to stay there for two nights. Life goes on, however, and we left on Thursday the 4th, 10:25AM, with the vague idea to make it to Neuilly-sur-Marne or Nogent-sur-Marne. Neither of them proved to be attractive enough when seeing it. On the other hand we knew that the next day-journey on La Seine would be a long one, reason why we decided to push on – as close towards La Seine as possible. This is where we ended up at 2:07PM, after 25 kilometers (15,5 miles), 3 locks and a 597 meters (0,375 mile) long tunnel included. It’s a small floating pontoon at Maisons-Alfort, less than 2 kilometers (1,25 miles) from the confluence La Marne – La Seine.

The next day, Friday the 5th of September, we left Maisons-Alfort early -related to our standards that is- being 8:30AM, the reason being a long leg ahead of us. On the stretch for the day we know of only one decent marina, the Port aux Cerises at Draveil, but for several reasons we do not like this marina a single bit. That’s why we decided to cruise to Melun instead – in one go. One of the first things that came into vision after entering La Seine was this apartment building for the famous Paris’ clochards. We even saw a bulb switched on, which strongly indicates the availability of electricity. Let us hope it’s better inside than it looks from the outside.

After just having spurned the Port aux Cerises an inflatable speedboat with two Gendarmes Nationales approached us at top speed, signaling towards us to divert to the left hand side (factually the right bank, as we were going upstream). Divers appeared to be active in the river. We made several pictures but choose this one –leaving out the spectators on the bank, more to the left- because, when looking closer we discovered a man on the roof of the building. Why was he there and what was he doing? French secret service? James Bond? We’ll never know…

A regularly repeating feature is the presence of former swimming pools. Most of them are in a derelict state – it seems to be a form of pastime that has been competed away by more sophisticated ones. No waves (although… wait for passing commercials), not very safe, no whirlpool etc…

...but having said that here’s one still in pristine condition. It’s a bad sign, however, no-one is to be seen.

Melun, where we moored up at 6:00PM, after having done 6 locks, one descending (La Marne), the other five ascending. So it took us 9,5 hours(!) during which period of time we bridged over 55 kilometers (nearly 35 miles) almost all of them upstream. Average groundspeed close to 6 kilometers (3,75 miles) per hour by 1.100 revs. We refuse to gain a little more speed by burning away a lot more diesel – apart from the heightened noise. We have to admit that we were hardly capable of displaying the simplest activity after arriving. Job done! (The next day there was a sort of ‘sports-market’, every stall representing one sport. It’s amazing how many sports there are.)

Saturday morning the 6th of September, after leaving Melun at 9:45AM. The weather becoming more sunny, still a bit hazy. Magnificent, isn’t it?

nd then there’s oil in the water… We cruised for at least 2 to 3 kilometers (around 1,5 miles) in oil-polluted water. What a big shame!! It was at La Rochette, not far upstream from Melun. We informed the next lock keeper, at the lock ‘La Cave’. He seemed sympathetic towards the problem, thanked us and promised to undertake the necessary steps. Let’s hope something could be done about it – it was a lot, really.

Back to the beauties of La Seine again. This is just an example of the many beautiful houses that are ‘on display’ along the river’s banks. Besides the houses there are the autumn-colours, slowly displaying themselves around three weeks early. We read this morning that this is probably caused by the mild winter and spring, followed by a cold August. Well, it makes the picture all the more dramatic.

Just seen on the way, not for the first time, a former beauty like this one. She once was a very attractive lady – look at her, still clearly visible, stunning curves. Dutch built, unmistakably. Hopefully one day she will shine as before. Looking at her name there is hope indeed: ‘Volharding’ (‘Perseverance’).

La Seine is still used by commercial ships as well. Here two of them are in hot pursuit and they overtake in no time. They have to make a living, we are retired – the obvious difference. Did we ever tell you that almost all of them are friendly and wave? They do.

Initially planning to end up in Moret-sur-Loing we decided to make an extra stop-over at Samois-sur-Seine. So we moored up there early, already at 1:30PM. Only one lock and just 17 kilometers (a bit more than 10 miles). We were the first to arrive and were accompanied by three other ships within a few hours – as the picture shows. Today, Sunday the 7th of September we’re still here. A departure not earlier than coming Tuesday could become a reality.

Samois-sur-Seine was Django Reinhardt’s residence during a long period of time. He lived in this house for many years – and died in it. The announcement on the wall reads: ‘Here lived and died the guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt 1910-1953’.

We visited Samois-sur-Seine’s cemetery, more specific Django Reinhardt’s grave. He lies buried here, together with his father, mother, brother and some more family-members. It’s absolutely enriching to know about his life and music – if you are not already familiar with it. See therefore YouTube: Or Wikipedia: Hope to see you all next week.