One hour from Paris

Paris, October 13, 2012

Crikey, you see. This is what happens if I don’t write every day. One minute it’s Wednesday night and the next it’s Saturday morning and I’m playing catch-up. And trying to remember what we’ve been doing.  Nor do I expect to get very far just now as I’m writing this while waiting for Lew to return from some grocery shopping, and then we’re off on a day trip.

So here’s a quick catch-up. Thursday we did the Saint-Martin Canal trip, from Port de l’Arsenal to Bassin de la Villette. The navman loved it, absolutely loved it. I thought it was pretty good too. I’ve got lots of pics of mossy brick walls and steel gates with water gushing. There weren’t heaps of other people either. Needed 12 to do the trip and only 11 booked so there was a moment there where we wondered it if would be a happening thing. But no, enough turned up, maybe 20 or so in the end. Far cry from the prison boat in Strasbourg.

Company we went with was Canauxrama, good value for money at 16 euros each, two-and-a-half hours for the trip. Again, the guide spoke in French and English, didn’t feel compelled to speak every moment of the journey, and made very good coffee into the bargain.

It was a bit spooky going through the Bastille tunnel, didn’t pay to look up at the roof at some points. Here’s what Lew’s got to say (he’s back with croissants to go with coffee).

(Quoting) This is a really good canal trip. There are four double locks, two tunnels, two ponds and a reservoir. Along the way I saw an old peniche with two modern 60 hp Mercurys on the back. It was moving along at fast walking speed. I also saw the best live-aboard canal boat of the whole trip (see pic). It was a well proportioned, double-ended, steel peniche. I could live on it very comfortably, Jan too I think – there was room to grow tomatoes. (End of quote).

So there you have it. Enjoyable voyage whether or not you’re a mad boat person. We opted to hop off at Bassin de la Villette. There’s huge red buildings at the Parc de la Villette (science centre one side, music centre the other) but we didn’t explore. Looked to be just conference facilities, though I think there are gardens that would be worth an explore another time. Lunch at a kebab place and home by metro.

Later…

Well, this afternoon was one out of the box. Despite the rain, we had a top afternoon, doing one of the ‘One Hour from Paris’ trips. We managed to find the book in English a couple of days ago, and for today’s trip, Lew chose a visit to Conflans-Sainte Honorine, a village at the confluence of the Seine and the Oise, about a half-hour on the RER. As well as two rivers for Navman to explore, there was also a Musée de la Batellerie (a museum of the history of the inland waterways of France), plus some bits and bobs of gardens for me. It really was a magic day. Anyone coming to Paris, I’d recommend this book ‘An Hour from Paris’ by Annabel Simms. We had a good coffee on arrival at a small tabac-type place and after our visit to the museum, a late lunch of crepe (me) and bruschetta (Lew) at a delightful place with good food and welcoming staff. Called La Place (I think) – it’s down the musée end of the town, opposite the river, if you’re ever in the area.

Lew was over the moon with the afternoon. He loves inland waterway craft and says the museum was a dream come true. A small museum, it nonetheless rates right up there with the best on this trip, better than the Paris maritime museum, and up there with Jersey – in large part because it is about inland waterways and is the only one he’s come across so far.

We managed to find our way there and back without incident. It was a slightly different story yesterday evening, though, when we decided to walk home from the vicinity of the Gare de Nord. Our infallible sense of misdirection kicked in. We found ourselves walking on top of the Canal St Martin tunnel at Bastille, the very same we’d motored through on the cruise barge the day before, but in a direction at a tangent to where we needed to go for home. Luckily we happened upon a not-too-busy brasserie and a helpful bartender, and after an apero we caught a no. 96 bus for home.

And now to bed. Big trip to Zurich tomorrow, with early start.

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