Pontoise - Neuilly-sur-Marne

Monday the 28th of July we left Pontoise at 9:35AM, this time of course with a crew of four. It takes only about a kilometer to reach the first lock. After we announced our approach to the duty lock keeper he answered fast and extensively. We thought we understood something about commercial boats behind us but did not see any. To make matters more complicated a commercial was moored in front of the lock and no living soul was visible on it. We contacted the lock keeper again to make sure, did not at all understand his reply, were give a green light and continued. As far as possible, in case off… This proved to be wise, as the lock keeper was gesticulating and shouting at us. When stepping outside he said it was all right (??). Then a large empty commercial came in sight, followed by another one, slightly smaller but fully laden. It did fit. Just. This is what it looks like when looking back.

The large one overtook at full throttle. He did not even wave at us, can you believe that? The second one was a lot more constructive. He asked us for our nationality and explained to us in Dutch (with a heavy French accent, but nevertheless) in a friendly way that commercial boats have priority over pleasure boats. We informed him about our awareness of this and explained that we were confused by the way the lock keeper had tried to inform us. Why, oh why, does a lock keeper, hearing that he is dealing with a foreigner, not simply say: ‘attandez s'il vous plait, parce q’il sont deux commercials derrière de vous’, or something simple. And slow, of course.

Having left (la rivière) l’Oise and after entering (le fleuve) La Seine one encounters some lovely views along the latter one. This is just an example.

Only two locks this Monday, the second one called Bougival, close to our destination for the day. It does look a bit worn out, but still does the job perfectly.

We have been at Rueil-Malmaison before and pictures of it put in former blog pages. Therefore this time a picture of the sign, erected by the local council. We moored that afternoon at 4:08, so cruised 6,5 hours, 2 locks included.

Once again the balcony, from below this time, of Maison Fournaise at Chatou, where (Pierre-)Auguste Renoir his famous painting ‘Le Déjeuner des Canotiers’ (now in Washington DC) situated. Chatou is the town opposite Rueil-Malmaison, separated by the river.

Reoxygenating La Seine

A few times we have seen the water of La Seine bubbling up and wondered what that meant. We discovered that a system of submerged pipes reoxygenates the river. Ingenious – and good for the fish stock. We saw this one just after we left Rueil-Malmaison at 9:05AM on Tuesday the 29th of July. Destination Paris, Port de l’Arsenal.

When closing in on Paris the prestigious company-buildings are to be seen everywhere. Not seldom glass is an important part of the used materials. Of course it has to be kept clean, otherwise it’s a disgrace for the company involved. So there’s the profession of window cleaner. ‘High profile’ in this case.

The last lock for us on the river Seine, being Suresnes. There are three lock chambers next to each other and the (female) lock keeper informed us in very good articulated French that she’d prepare the middle one. No misunderstandings, why should there be any??

Nothing new, but yet the difference between the lower and upper world is poignantly visible here.

It’s always a very nice picture when entering Paris upstream, Le Pont Mirabeau and La Tour Eiffel combined – even on a dull day.

We cannot resist to include a picture of an almost ‘sold out’ ‘padlock-bridge’…

…and if one should be looking for an easy opportunity to leave a love-padlock behind in Paris, go to Montmartre. Close to the Sacre Coeur-church we saw this piece of loose fence, put behind an original railing. It does look a bit cheap, doesn’t it, even with La Tour Eiffel in the background.

Back to La Seine. Here’s a detail of Le Pont Neuf, situated on (either side) of l’Île de la Cité. It’s Paris’ oldest bridge.

Who can ever resist to make a picture of La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris? We certainly could not!

The entrance of Le port de l'Arsenal, not far away, going upstream, from l’Île de la Cité. The green light combined with VHF-channel 9 are for the ‘plaisanciers’, the red one and VHF-channel 20 for the commercial boats.

When entering the lock leading from La Seine into Le Port de l’Arsenal the waterway leads, beside ‘normal’ roads, underneath the here not-so-underground métro line number 5, overground station Quai de la Rapée. The lock itself, part of Le Canal Saint-Martin, ascends 3,1 meters (10 feet). (The pink geraniums do not float in front of us; it’s just a reflection.)

The reserved space for us, number 139 to be exact, at Le port de l'Arsenal. We prefer to enter/leave our ship on the starboard-side, if possible, so we choose to enter this space in reverse. It’s six of one and halve a dozen of the other: when leaving it will be all the more easy. The procedure ended at 4:38PM, after having cruised a distance of some 46 kilometers during 7,5 hours, two locks and a once more exciting crossing of Paris included.

An overview of Le port de l'Arsenal, seen from the bridge (more or less) halfway. The blue bow of our ship is visible in the background – centre of the picture.

As shown on the previous picture we were moored close to the far end of Le Port de l’Arsenal, next to La Place de la Bastille. It’s obvious that, when using the metro, we’d choose for station Bastille – partly overground too. The inside of the overground part of the station is decorated with a splendid mural, related to the capture of La Bastille, on the 14th of July 1789.

Le Métro de Paris - ligne 1

Line 1 of Paris’ Métro is fully automated. It’s a strange sensation to be in the front, to realize there’s no driver and to see what normally the diver sees. All works very well and we admired, once more (TGV!), France’s technical capabilities. The drivers, however, will not appreciate this at all one guesses…

The night after we arrived we had a very amicable dinner with our friends. The picture, taken by a friendly co-visitor, says it all.

One of our plans was to go to the square in front of Le Centre Pompidou, hoping we would be able to enjoy various street-artists. We had done that in the past. This time there was no artist to be seen. Would they all be gone??? We found an art-gallery instead, opposite Le Centre Pompidou. Now we are the happy owners of this cow, seamless fitting into our existing interior. (Next time we’ll look somewhere else for street artists, but where?)

After 4 nights in Paris we had to leave on Saturday the 2nd of August 2014 – in this case emphasizing ‘had to’. It was marvelous – we’ll dedicate an extra page only to Paris, later on this week. With a bleeding heart we left at 12:53PM and headed for the river Marne – where we have never been before. At Nogent-sur-Marne we pictured this replica mini ocean-going cruise ship. Funny as well as interesting.

That Saturday we moored at Neuilly-sur-Marne at 5:26PM, just upstream of the lock of the same name, off the river – in the 9 kilometers (5,5 miles) long Canal de Celles. We stayed there during the Sunday, partly because of regaining our breath after having ‘undergone’ Paris. The passing commercials –sometimes really big- kicked our ship up and down severely. Well, there are worse things in this world.