July 2001

We had planned to cruise into Paris last July, but with one thing and another it took us a full year to make our way there on our barge.  The thrill of looking up at la tour Eiffel and Notre Dame from the deck of our own boat made it worth the wait. What a fantastic way to enter such a beautiful city. We have arrived many times by plane, train or car, but this was our first approach on the Seine in our own barge.

Knowing how heavy the river traffic can be with all of the sightseeing boats and the commercial barges, weCruising on the Seine towards Notre Dame planned our arrival on a Sunday morning. We were hoping that the traffic would be lighter.  Outside of Paris we fell in behind a small commercial barge, and luckily for us we were able to follow them into the heart of the city. Tagging along after them, we mimicked their every move.  They stayed to the right and drove slowly just as we had planned to do.  When it was time to move to the left side of the channel, as indicated on our charts, we did not have to wonder if we were doing it correctly, we just followed their lead. Thanks to our escort we actually had time to enjoy the sights and savor the moment.

The Arsenal, the pleasure boat port in Paris near the Bastille, was full when called to say that we were arriving.  We called around and found that we could moor at a port near the Pont de la Concorde while we waited for a place in the Arsenal.  The view and location would have made it a fantastic Bateaux Mouches crossing in front of the Eiffel Towermooring, we could see the Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde off our bow, and Pont Alexandre III and la tour Eiffel from our back deck, but because of all sightseeing boats flying back and forth, it was an incredibly choppy mooring.  This forced us off the boat early each day, and we stayed out as late as we could because the river traffic did not stop until 11pm. Toby came with us because he was afraid of all the bouncing and noise on the barge, and we found dog friendly places to spend our time. Le Champ de Mars and Jardin des Tuileries have great benches and lots of people to watch.  Cafés became our home away from home. 

 A sign marking Place Sartre - Beauvoir

 

We spent so much time café sitting that, like many café sitters before us, we could have written a book.  It was fun, but we were still very happy when we called the Arsenal and found that they finally had a mooring for us.

 

 

 

 

 Our barge moored in the Paris Arsenal

 

The Port de Plaisance de Paris Arsenal is located off the River Seine on the Canal St. Martin.  After four days of rocking and rolling on the river, it was a treat to enter calm waters. Now the view from our back deck was the Bastille, and because Toby was not afraid to stay on the boat, we were free to take the Metro again. (Dogs are not allowed on the Metro.) We bought a book of tickets and went about Paris enjoying our new freedom to go out and come back home as we pleased.

 Bastille monument light up against a clear night sky

 

 

Summer in Paris was a nice surprise. We have always come to Paris in the off season to avoid the crowds, but there were not as many tourists as we would have thought, and the weather was great, if you ignore the 4 days of rain.

 street full of roller bladers

 

 

 

There were parades, festivals and a Sunday Skate for rollerbladers.

 

 

 5 guys playing saxophones

La Fête de la Musique on June 21st was Fantastic! Music filled the evening air throughout Paris.  From what we saw as we wandered from neighborhood to neighborhood, the music seemed to be appropriate to each arrondissement.  On the Île Saint-Louis there was a saxophone group and two choirs, and at the Place des Vosge there was a great jazz ensemble and at the Bastille a young Bob Dylan clone. Music was everywhere.  It was a warm evening, and throughout the city the streets were full of people out enjoying the music. On our way home we walked through the streets near the Bastille where young people were dancing to bands that played on into the early hours of the morning. It was a magical night.

We always love being in Paris, and this time, with our barge moored in the middle of the city, we felt as though we lived there. But after three weeks of enjoying Paris, it was time to fire up the engine and castoff for our next major destination, Namur, Belgium.

Au revoir Paris.
                       Le pont neuf from the Seine