Spring 2004

 

After months of enjoying summer weather in far away places, we returned to France to find that spring had not yet arrived. We put away our shorts and put on our raincoats.

On the occasional day without rain, we were able to finish our spring painting, and in the middle of May we entered the lock to hit the canals for our 5th cruising season.

Just like magic, every spring a transformation takes place in that first lock that takes us from our home port out onto the canals. Our house that has been so comfortable all winter changes into a barge, our car morphes into two bikes and we become kids again, excited to see what we will find around each bend in the canal.

Morning mist on the canal
Misty mornings often announce a new day of cruising, as we like to arrive at the next lock as soon as it opens. If we start early, we can stop early. Mooring early in the afternoon leaves time to explore a new village or ride our bikes along a country lane.

 

Our plans were simple this year. We just wanted to enjoy all of the lovely towns and villages along one of our favorite canals, while keeping the bow aimed toward Paris.   

 

 
                                         Decize      

The town of Decize in the distance

 

Nevers from across the Loire river

Many boats that we know were also heading toward Paris this year, and we have found old friends in almost every port along the way.

 

 

    
    Nevers                     
        

 

Country moorings are peaceful interludes, but we prefer the spontaneous barbecues or dinners in town that happen when friends pull into port.
 Eclaircie on a peaceful canal

 

Aussies putting a shrimp on the barbi
In Montargis, one of our longest stops this year, we even had the chance to watch while real Australians put shrimp on the barbie.     

 

Montargis was also where we enjoyed La Fête de la Musique this year. We strolled through town and watched as the locals sang and danced with great enthusiasm. It looked to us like the whole town participated by dancing in the streets or by joining together to sing. One group sang songs in Chinese. The groups performing were an interesting mix of young and old, and just like every year on the 21st of June, the streets were alive with music long past midnight.
Village scene
 Chic Couple dancing the Tango Couples dancing in the street
 Everyone dancing in the street Muscians playing in front of a chocolate shop
 Kids singing on a stage Adults singing

 

A little closer to Paris we stopped in Moret sur Loing. They use their very beautiful medieval village as the stage for a summer sound and light show. Because it doesn't get dark until late here in the summer, the show doesn't start until 11pm. The evening was warm and the show was so beautiful that we felt like we were dreaming.
 Moret-sur-Loing at night
 Actor standing in the spotlight Another scene

Saint-Mammès is just a few kilometers from Moret, and we rode over there often as they were hosting La Fête de l'Eau, an annual festival of water sports and water related activities.

 Man showing us the model boat that he built We strolled past all of the booths, tasting and buying some delicious cider at one booth, some cheese at another. We talked with a man whose hobby was making model boats. He spent 800 hours building this boat. He even added recorded sounds of the sea gulls flying along behind the boat.

 

We were sitting in a sidewalk cafe, when we saw this little boat go by, powered by the captain's feet. Like us, we think that they were headed toward ParisFrench people being funny

From our home port of Roanne, we can drive to Paris in just five hours. Traveling leisurely along the canals, stopping as we pleased and meeting friends along the way, it took us a month and a half to reach our goal.

We have enjoyed living in the small villages along the canals, but for the next month or so, we will be just as happy to live in our own home, with many friends as neighbors, in the heart of Paris.

Eclaircie moored in Paris