Paris - Compiègne

On Monday the 5th of May we left Rueil-Malmaison after a 4-night stay. While ‘en route’ we discovered this Swan-couple with their two cygnets. The first of this season!

That day, the Monday, we passed Maisons-Lafitte, still part of Paris’ suburban area. In the past, one might even say the distant past, we have used the camping-site there twice. The train station is situated next to it and a perfect way to visit downtown Paris without bothering about something trivial like parking a car. Both camping and railway bridge (and road bridge in the distance) are visible on this picture. When we visited the camping for the second time –in the late nineties it must have been- La Seine had been in spate and wrecked more or less the entire camping. It was all mud, fallen trees, unusable buildings and equally unusable camping spaces, in short: a 100% mess. Nowadays it looks as being comfortably back into its former glory!

Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the end of cruising on La Seine for us. This day we cruised 25,5 kilometers (16 miles), descending 1 lock, all of this in close to 3,5 hours. Here we are, on a spot almost underneath the ‘Pont de Conflans’, next to the big boys, seemingly on a spot where at least the big ones are not allowed to, or cannot, moor. Being in France now for over 1 2/3 years we know that the French do, in general, not bother about signs of ‘no parking’. We had the feeling we did the same here – and were not disappointed, were not disturbed, that is.

The French do a lot to keep La Seine as clean as possible. They use equipment, best described as ‘wide semicircular metal arms’, strategically being scattered out on the river. It helps, the ‘arms’ catch a lot of the floating rubbish. Sometimes, however, the ‘arms’ inevitably miss the odd item. This picture is a prove of it.

Big, big boats on La Seine

Although we now know that La Seine is capable of accommodating large vessels, we always feel amazed when a commercial like this one passes by. Two huge floating containers, each at least 70 meters (230 feet) long, and a giant push tug, creating an overall length of some 150 meters (500 feet). Impressive!

On Tuesday the 6th of May we left La Seine (right) and entered L’Oise (left). We have been going downstream on Le Loing and La Seine for 8 days, now the days of cruising upstream have arrived. In case one of our followers wants to know: we make 4,5 knots (nautical miles if you like) (8,25 kilometers) an hour going downstream at 1.000 revs. Upstream the engine is on 1.100 revs, speed (a little over) 3,5 knots (6,5 kilometers) an hour. Of course it will all be compensated when going in the opposite direction, apart from the fact that conditions on a river, like water level and current speed, can vary tremendously.

Pontoise was our first stopover on the river Oise. Only a bit over 2,5 hours of cruising, one lock included, made it possible for us to moor shortly after noon. As one can see what remains of the medieval town wall makes for a nice picture.

Opposite Pontoise, separated by the river, there’s a town called Saint-Ouen-l'Aumône. Because we like the name of this town and its looks alike, here’s a picture of the view as seen from our floating home.

On the move again the next day, Wednesday the 7th of May 2014. We started not earlier than 11:58AM (yes, our logbook is kept meticulously), as we had to take in several thousands of liters of water – and the water pressure was low. Well, we are not in a hurry. We had not taken in any serious amount of water since over a week (only 500 liters in Draveil, it’s expensive there and seemingly considered liquid gold) and the level was low, of course partly due to the visit of our grandsons the week before. The water tank is situated in the front of our ship and made her lying over 10 centimeters deeper in the water after topping up to a 100% level. We were able to moor up in L’Isle Adam, after 2 hours of cruising and zero, yes: 0, locks. We knew it’s a nice spot, but only a short pontoon. Lucky us, the pontoon was unoccupied.

We had moored in L’Isle Adam during 2012’s autumn, and seemed to remember that the pontoon offers the possibility to connect to the main grid by means of a ticket machine that is supposed to accept credit cards and the likes. Already in 2012 there had been complaints about the ticket machine not working (DBA-website). The complainer, obviously British because of the remark that a British card was not accepted, advised to try a French credit card. We can partly comfort him, both a Dutch debit- and credit card were refused. A trouble shared is a trouble halved! We noticed cobwebs inside the opening where the tickets are supposed to be distributed from. One might suspect that the machine is out of order since several years. No miracle when looking at the price-display. Six hours for either (2 x € 1,00) € 2,00 or € 1 x € 7,50!! Make your choice! That does not need a lot of thinking, does it? L’Isle Adam’s council is still debating the matter, perhaps.

May 8, a Thursday. An uneventful journey, ending up around 2:30PM at Saint-Leu-d’Esserent – no less. Two locks and 4,5 hours of cruising, a ‘normal’ daily routine when cruising. The place is badly maintained, so carefulness while walking the pontoon was of paramount importance. The exploiter charged us an eye watering € 20,00 for one night. Electricity and water included, for the sake of completeness. The pond next to the river is a trout pond, we read somewhere. We are not into fishing. Not at all…

All day it had been chilly, a combination of cold wind and rain. That evening, Thursday, we re-ignited our stove. Ohhh, it’s soooo comfortable and cosy! We still have 12, yes 12, bags of coal, after having left Roanne on the 1st of April with some 20 bags. Last year we needed the stove until the end of May. We thought that to be an exception. While writing this (Sunday the 11th of May) the stove is again creating a warm and cosy home for us… Will it be the same as in 2013??

In spite of the weather we continued cruising on Friday the 9th of May, 2014 and moored at Pont-Sainte-Maxence just after 1:00PM. This time 3 hours of cruising during which one lock with a difference of a mere 1,45 meters (less than 5 feet). Bollards are low situated and hidden between the shrubs here, so it’s a matter of searching well for them. As the commercial traffic is fierce one needs to tie up carefully (using good quality ropes). When tied up the gangplank is needed to go ashore. After reaching the shore there is a fairly narrow rim to walk on towards not very even stairs. We have survived. Again.

Saturday 10 May 2014, on our way to Compiègne. We encountered some past glory. Once a party boat. Or a restaurant boat. Or a hotel boat. Anyway, it has seen better times. Now sunk. Beyond refurbishing. A sad sight.

‘Sic transit gloria mundi’ is what we thought when seeing this once beautiful stately home. There’s hope, however, based upon the scaffolding on one side of the building. Is there maybe something similar to the UK’s National Trust in France?

For some it’s just enough to keep a boat afloat. See the water and the trees. The weather had deteriorated even further. Lucky us, it’s tailwind!

Another picture, showing the horrible weather conditions on the 10th of May. It has been a lot better in April and before. We trust it will come back. For sure, after all we’re in France.

We arrived in Compiègne at 2:15PM and noted 4 hours and 20 minutes of cruising, negotiating 3 locks on the way. This is still where we are on the Sunday, creating a new blog page – among other things. Looking at our flags and the tree in front of the picture it’s safe to say that it is windy, to say the least.

The last picture might have given the impression that, although it may be windy, the sky is mainly blue. This passing hotel boat gave us the opportunity not only to make a photograph of it (some heroes are even outside, Eskimo’s we are sure), but to show you how the sky is rapidly changing from blue to grey, dark grey to be precise. Yesterday we had to undress almost completely after coming back from shopping. A combination of a sudden downpour, combined with high winds, made an umbrella useless and there was no other protection… Our shoes are, a day later, still drying behind the burning stove… This was a bit ‘mineur’. Next week hopefully ‘majeur’ again.