2009
Le Monde
Wednesday, 17 June 2009 11:25

DBA Rally at La Villette

Photo by Michael Maclaran - Sterna

We have finally made it into Le Monde.  I don't think that we ever expected to be mentioned in a story written in France's top evening newspaper even though we have often made it into smaller papers.  Most notably when one of the Roanne papers did a story about our Thanksgiving dinner in 2001, or the time that we ran over a car in middle of the Canal du Centre and made the front page of the local newspaper.

This time though, we are not mentioned by name and our boat's name didn't make it into the story either, but we are still happy that Paris has taken notice of our comings and goings.  They almost mentioned us when they wrote, "les mariniers", and that was enough for us.    On a les chevilles qui enflent!

 

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/recherche_breve/1,13-0,37-1086909,0.html

 
Canals of Paris
Thursday, 18 June 2009 18:05

We have been enjoying life in the 19th Arrondissement at the invitation of the Mairie de Paris for more than a week now. What a difference from the upscale 4th, where we exit the port to do most of our errands, and the arrondissement that we think of as "our neighborhood" with rue Saint-Antoine and Place des Vosges just a few blocks away from our barge.

Being Paris, at least 5 of the 10 days that we have been here for the DBA Rally have been rainy days, so this weekend when the sun came out, so did everyone else. We have never seen a more animated area. In the 4th we have tourists with maps and puzzled looks, but here there are mostly locals. It is a working class neighborhood on its way up, with more young families and fewer problems than when we were here for the last barge rally in 2007.

We rode Vélib bikes around the basin last Saturday evening and we were amazed at all of the activity going on; the joint was jumping. There were wall to wall picnics along the quays, some groups were students or friends from work getting together to share a night off, and others were young families from the apartments that surround the basin. People were playing pétanque , little kids ran around the playgrounds and crowds were over flowing the trendy bars, like the Bar Ourcq on quai de la Loire. It was quite a scene, and when we settled down on our back deck for dinner, we had front row seats for people watching. With the two movie theaters on opposite sides of the water linked by a "floating bridge", a 38 meter barges that offers concerts, operas or just a drink overlooking the water, electric boats that you can rent in order to putter around the basin or off road bike paths that will take you along the Canal de l'Ourcq almost all the way to Meaux, plus the Parc de la Villette and the Paris Plage, summer at the Bassin de la Villette offers more things to do than you can shake a stick at.

While still enjoying the atmosphere of this neighborhood from our deck at 11:30 that night, we heard a woman singing traditional French songs, and the sound of her voice was coming closer and closer. A trip boat was exiting the lock and we realized that the woman was singing from their front deck. Her voice was lovely and floated out onto the night air. There weren't more than 10 people on board counting the crew, and those that had bought a 15 euro ticket had enjoyed a private cruise along the Canal Saint-Martin with street scenes of Paris rolling by at a snails pace on a warm Saturday night. This is a new cruise that Canauxrama just started. They leave the Arsenal at 9pm and get to La Villette at 11:30. It seems like it might be a lovely way to spend an evening in Paris.

 
La Fête de la Musique, 2009
Monday, 22 June 2009 16:49

We were so busy having fun on the first day of summer that we didn't take many photos, but the ones that  we took, we gave to Animoto to set them to music and give them some style.

 
La Fête Nationale, Paris 2009
Thursday, 16 July 2009 17:05

There is no such thing in France as Bastille Day, even though most anglophones call it that, but there is Le 14 Juillet or La Fête Nationale and it is a wonderful time to be in Paris, and a great time to have friends come to visit.

Jim is an old San Francisco childhood friend and his wife Evelyne is French.  It was fun to take them around Paris, a city they have been to many times of course, but over the last few years mostly just when changing trains as they go between their home in the Haute Savoie and their property on the Atlantic coast in Bretagne.

The 14th fell on a Tuesday, but really everything had gone into holiday mode as early as the Friday before, and the mood throughout the city was laid back.  The day that they arrived, we  went out to lunch and then came back to sit on our back deck.  We discussed "culture shock", life in France vs. life in the States, etc.  We introducted Jim and Evelyne to friends that we have made here in Paris, and had a multinational conversation over drinks and dinners, flipping back and forth between English and French and talking about things that are different and things that are the same in our cultures.  Everyone was enjoying the exchange of ideas as the sun set on the Bastille monument.

The holiday events started on Monday night with "les bals des pompiers", and as always, we went to the Marais because it is close and fun. Friends met at our boat to have a light meal and some Champagne before we walked over to the firehouse together. After dancing, drinking more Champagne, laughing and talking, the older contingent of our group went home at about midnight, but our younger friends stayed on to drink more Champagne and smile a lot.

The next morning, on "le 14 Juillet", we were on the move early hoping to get a place on the barrier on the Champs-Elysées, but getting 4 people out the door is never easy and by the time we reached our destination many others had come before us.  We arrived at about 9am, and we had to settle for sneaking a peek through the glass of a bus shelter while standing on tiptoes, and we envied the people who  had great views because they had friends in high places.

high-places

Or helpful parents

father-and-son

family-ladder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the parade, we walked away with thousands of others and finally settled in a café for lunch just to take a break and let the crowds disperse.  Young men and women in uniform came in to sit and enjoy a meal with their families, and they sat up very straight in their full dress uniforms, and of course, we couldn't help but smile at how proud their families were of them.  After more conversation and a leisurely lunch, we continued our walk across the city to the Bastille and arrived back at the boat at about 5pm, just in time to see the finish of the day on the Tour de France.  We couldn't have been home more than 20 minutes when friends that we had recently met in Paris arrived, and we suddenly had another party on the back deck this time with other friends from Paris, Manchester and Montreal.

When everyone had to leave for dinner engagements, we set out to find a dinner spot ourselves, and after a couple of false starts we settled on Chez Margot, which might become a new favorite as the atmosphere, food and prices were great.  Then we squeezed ourselves on the very crowded métro, and went to watch the fireworks at the Eiffel tower.  In the confusion of the day, we forgot to bring our camera, but someone else on youtube did a good job of capturing the splendor of the evening.  So thanks to Vandicla for this great video.

 

 

 

 

 

 
La Côte d'Or
Friday, 17 July 2009 16:25

We are renting a car and going away for the weekend.  We are happy to be heading back to the Côte-d'Or where our French adventure started in January of 2000.  Not only do we love department 21 for sentimental reasons, but it is also one of the most beautiful areas in France.  The purpose of the trip is to go to an event called "Savigny en Tous Sens" that our friends on "La Lavande" went to a few years ago, and have been raving about it ever since.  Hiking, wine tasting, lunch and dancing sounded like fun to us, so we signed up a few months ago and planned a weekend around it.

Funny, it is much easier to prepare to go away on the barge, because when we cruise, we take the whole kit and kaboodle with us. Preparing for this weekend trip has taken us all day packing just one little suitcase, getting rental car and hotel reservation confirmation papers together, gathering up chargers for the camera and phone, and trying to make sure that we don't leave anything else at home.

 

 
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