Highly attractive Monthermé was left on Monday the 25th of July at 09:04AM. After descending two locks we reached Laifour, where we had an eventful stop at the way up. This time we skipped it, hoping for Revin, some 10 kilometers (a bit over 6 miles) ahead. On the way we again enjoyed the stunning view of the ‘Rochers des Dames de Meuse’, partly pictured here. As the arrow clearly indicates boats have to cruise on the right hand side to (1) reach the lock (‘Dames de Meuse’) properly and (2) avoid going over the top of the weir that is waiting on the left hand side for any inattentive boater. Going over the top is probably survivable, but most unpleasant. Therefore, we have to advise strongly against it!
Having a fourth lock descended we reached Revin around 1:00PM. We tried last year, we tried this year when going upstream and, finally, we retried when going downstream. Well, all people on the moored boats again looked highly interested, unfortunately not in our direction… So our intent to explore Revin failed a third time, starting to create a continuing story. We had to travel on, negotiate another three locks, eventually ending up in Fumay at 2:50PM. When sitting outside and generally enjoying life this is the view. Not bad, not bad at all.
Always prepared to entertain our followers we walked along the river, crossed the Pont de Fumay that is visible with the next picture and, avoiding the mud as much as possible, walked back along the opposite bank just to be able to make this overview of our mooring spot with picturesque Fumay in the background. The result makes it worth the trouble. Later on we made some stunning pictures of the village itself. With a telephone, as we had forgotten to take the camera with us. Alas, we are unable to connect the phone to the computer (‘Windows does not recognize the connected device’ or something similar.) We tried at least 30 times. It’s a sort of banging one’s head onto the wall.
Behind us, already visible on the last picture, is a tiny boat. It is called a ‘Zalmschouw’ (‘Salmon-launch’ (??). We’re sure of the Salmon-part). See https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schouw_(historisch_scheepje) for more information (only in Dutch). It is a historical little narrow fishing boat, designed for salmon-fishing on the big, wide rivers and ‘De Biesbosch’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Biesbosch). It’s our advice to use the last Wikipedia-link and you’ll be really pleased.
To avoid any misunderstandings, we state that we got permission of the owners to take and publish pictures. This is how they, the owners, live on board their tiny boat. Their sleeping accommodation is visible in the front, understandably under cover, yet minimalistic. The water inside the four bottles that are visible at the rear is warmed by the sun (well, if one’s lucky!), thus creating the possibility to have a shower on board. (We have not witnessed how.) It is a real ‘Spartan’ way of life – they do it for four months(!) yearly, already for the fourth consecutive year. To say the least they have left their fifties behind… Chapeau! to them.
Of course all Fumay spaces were occupied later that afternoon – it’s holiday-season. Then a late cruiser arrived on Tuesday the 26th. All the moored cruisers followed the usual routine: act as if no-one is there. (They are admirably good at that.) So we invited the boat next to ours. When, later on, we talked about this with another cruiser the answer simply was: ‘The big boats have to take care first’. (What???)
A discerned follower will have noticed that the boat next to ours that was visible on the last picture has gone and was replaced by another one on Wednesday the 27th. Same routine, of course. The lovely tiny boat next to us left on Thursday morning the 28th. It was raining, as the picture proves. The ‘bikkels’ (= a nice Dutch word for audacious people) are preparing their boat by lowering the relatively high mast. If the rain is heavier than visible here, they install a large fisherman’s umbrella in the middle of their boat to be protected. As they explained to us they prefer to cruise when it’s raining rather than sitting and feeling a bit miserable. Well, that makes sense!
It was so very nice to meet them and talk to them. There they go, always merry, rain or shine. Daan & Anita – perhaps there’s some follower out there who knows them. Say hallo from us – ‘spoilt’ admirers.
We left the same morning, on the 28th, at 9:17AM. As already mentioned it was raining and the clouds were still hanging at a fairly low level. That offered us the chance to make this picture when approaching a lock (Fépin or Montigny – we know, it’s unimportant). A lot of weirs (‘barrage’ in French) are obviously under re-construction. That was already the case last year, so it’s a lot of work or a slow process – or both.
Another one of the river with the clouds just above it. No further comment, we just loved the view that comes unexpected and for free too!
That day, the Thursday, we passed six locks and a bit tricky tunnel. Our ship lacks a headlight and we, again, missed it dearly. We intended several times to tackle this problem. This time we will. Possibly. We found a free space in Givet at 1:29PM, so we did a good job in 4 hours and 12 minutes. A picture of Givet was already visible a few weeks ago, when the space was for free – this time someone came to collect € 4,10. For an optimist the glass was half full when we were here on the way up; for a pessimist the glass was half empty this time. We even go for the half full this time. The next morning, Friday the 29th of July, it was a rainy day – initially. This was the view from inside our little ship.
A French license (‘vignette’) for an entire (calendar)year costs us € 635,00, or € 527,00 (17% reduction) if ordered/paid before the 1st of April. We calculated to be in France this year for 2 or 3 months. The monthly price for our ship is € 199,00 (no reduction). Consequently, when being 2 months in France it’s cheaper, correction: costs less money, than a year-vignette. Three months is, admittedly, more expensive – in that case the only ‘advantage’ is that not a high payment is taken out of one's account in one go. This year we had two licenses, being one for June and the second for July. June was only used for the three final days, as the river Meuse was closed for an entire month, due to flooding. We are not prepared to pay another € 199,00 for a few days, so we reluctantly left France on the 29th of July.
Givet was left behind on Friday at 10:45AM and we entered Belgium at 11:33AM. In Belgium it is free cruising, that’s to say: in Wallonia. As we are planning to cruise the river Meuse (Maas) into The Netherlands we’ll never enter Flanders. The first lock inside Belgium is Hastière. When we left we published a goodbye-picture of it – now it’s a welcome (back-)picture.
Waulsort again, where we have been for (almost?) an entire month before, because the river was closed. We switched off the engine at 1:00PM and were the next day (Saturday) accompanied by Anton & Dicky, cruising in the same direction with their ship ‘Vrouwe Dirkje’, seen in front of us. She is for sale, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qOBMQUvODU. We had a great evening on board of her, yesterday (Saturday) evening, playing ‘Mexican Train’, self-evidently combined with good conversation and some bites, wines and spirits. Bye for now.