Moret-sur-Loing - Paris

Our two grandsons arrived on Saturday the 26th of April at Moret-sur-Loing. After extensive shopping there –grandparents are allowed to spoil their grandchildren- we left on the following Sunday. It is only a short distance from Moret to La Seine. A wide river allows for some inaccuracies by the helmsman, so it’s a perfect opportunity to instruct young helmsmen-to-be. The young ones are getting their first instructions here.

First the eldest one (11). He is a nice kid, knows what to do, and how, so he’ll be a perfect relief-helmsman in case his granddad is no longer capable of doing more than 30 minutes at the helm. He, the granddad, is still OK by the way.

The second rookie is the younger one (8). As the picture shows his height is not sufficient yet to overlook the entire surrounding properly, so our little ‘escabeau’ came in handy. He is slightly naughtier than his senior brother, showed us that he could do it without his hands on the wheel and told his instructor that he does not like ‘to be given orders’. Second substitute for the time being, we decided.

In Moret our ship was breasted up to another Piper-built one, ‘Archangel’. Although we left earlier, ‘Archangel’ catched up with us when we had to wait at the second lock because of the Sunday-lunch break. We cruised together up to Melun, where they continued their voyage and we stopped for an overnight stay. Their camera is photographing us here – and the other way around. One never gets the chance to picture one’s own ship in the ‘cruising-mode’, so we’ll send them the pictures of their ship and hope they’ll do the same to us.

Melun was reached by 3:00PM after 5 hours of cruising and descending two locks. Yes, it’s an easy life going downstream on a wide river. This picture illustrates very well what the size can be of the ships that are using La Seine. Where are we? To say that we are dwarfed by the other ships, especially the tanker, is an understatement. It’s a real picture puzzle, isn’t it?

On Monday the 28th of April we left Melun towards 11:00AM, planning to travel to Draveil, a distance of some 36 kilometers (22,5 miles), encountering 3 locks on the way. We had been in Draveil 1,5 years before, after having crossed The Channel, coming from England and traveling towards Moret-sur-Loing. It’s not the most attractive overnight stop, we think, and of course expensive (Paris region!), but with the boys on board we prefer to play it safe, so we even stayed here for two nights which, on hindsight, proved to be the right decision as the weather conditions were just horrible on the Tuesday.

Wednesday the 30th of April. Big day! Cruising Paris! When going downstream the first world famous Paris-landmark is, of course, the historic Notre Dame cathedral. Napoleon was crowned emperor here in 1804 by pope Pius VII, well by himself – to name but one religious or political event the cathedral has accommodated. Going downstream (using the ‘Bras de la Tournelle’) it’s forbidden to enter the branch that is visible on the left hand side (‘Bras de la Monnaie’), as it is one-way-traffic there. Downstream traffic, like us, must cruise between the smaller Île Saint Louis and the larger Île de la Cité. It’s busy there, looking around the bend is impossible and on top of that the traffic changes from the right hand side to the left one. Slowly going forward and being careful are the things to do. Just when approaching the bend a large container-ship popped out. We slowed down even more and asked him (VHF Canal 10, the bridge-to-bridge canal, always switched on) whether there was another one behind him. (Our French improves slowly but surely.) The answer was ‘non’ so we were able to continue and change lanes in between both islands.

When leaving the short waterway between the two islands we encountered two of the omnipresent tourist boats; one from the right – coming from behind Île Saint Louis (‘Bras Marie’), a forbidden area for other boats than tourist boats, the other from the opposite direction and cruising on the left hand side towards the direction we came from. Of course we gave them all the room they need to manoeuvre before we entered the ‘Bras de la Cité’, which is situated at the north side of L’île de la Cité. Speaking about tourist boats; we have experienced only friendly captains on them. Although it’s their business and private ships are sometimes in the way (we go forward very slowly for obvious reasons) we’ve only seen them smiling and waving at us. ‘Chapeau’ for them!

Paris, as we all know, is the city of romance. This bridge (it might be the Paserelle Léopold Sédar Senghor) is a great example of it. The railings, once like an open lattice, are completely filled up by small padlocks with the initials of a couple in love written on them. It symbolises, of course, their unshakeable and eternal love and commitment to each other. Fingers crossed! The bridge must have gained a lot of weight in the course of time. There’s hardly any room left for more padlocks. Further down we have seen another bridge, now used for the same purpose. We have forgotten which one and hope to inform you about its name in the future.

More romance in Paris. No further comment as all of us know the feeling (we sincerely hope).

Paris' prettiest bridge, we think, the Pont Alexandre III (1896-1900). When one can picture this one with the Tour Eiffel in the background it’s a sure fact: this is Paris!

It’s easy to think that everyone knows and have seen it –at least on pictures- but the best known landmark of Paris cannot be missing! So here she is - for the zillionth time showing all her beauty and distinctness. As the picture shows there where both rainclouds and sun on the 30th of April. It was bad the day before and after, weather-wise speaking. The day we crossed Paris was dry all day and sunny at times. Lucky us!

We cannot do without a picture of a copy of the Statue of Liberty, France’s great gift to the United States. Could it have been that the French motives were partly inspired by making a gesture towards the English? Just a question, US’s declaration of independence is close to 238 years old and we are all friends now.

The second beautiful bridge (1895-1897) is, in our opinion, the Pont Mirabeau. Four statues decorate this listed monument (since 1975), this one called ‘Abundance’.

Unfortunately there are people, let’s be mild this time and call them misinformed, who drop their waste wherever they are able to get rid of it. It struck us even more because of the contrasting buildings next to the river. It’s seems out of sight for the people inside the buildings but they, and a lot of others, surely know what is going on here?

As planned before we ended up at the attractive mooring of Rueil-Malmaison (a Paris suburb where we still are today, Sunday the 4th). It was, however, a bit too long to keep the attention of both the young boys at top level. We left Draveil at 08:55AM and reached our destination at 5:36PM. Just 2 locks on the way, but 8,5 hours! Paris itself was 100% excitement, but… Next time we’ll book for an overnight stop at Le Port de l'Arsenal in the centre of Paris. Promise! The boys left us on Friday and are back in The Netherlands now.

Fair (Melun)

Entertainment then. When approaching Melun we saw a large fair on the left bank. The boys were unaware of its presence, as they had business below deck. So they were pleasantly surprised when, after mooring up, we took them to the fair ground. This is just one of their experiences. We felt a bit sick to the stomach by only looking at it. They gladly took a second ride… And there was more stuff like this – they did it all.

Another game was Rummicub. Purchased in December last year (a ‘Sinterklaascadeau’ for ourselves) and now properly inaugurated.

Mastermind is a popular one since ages. Here the youngest one has done it in four attempts. For obvious reasons he is very pleased with himself.

And there’s chess, of course. The senior brother, a practising player and member of a club, is instructing the junior brother.

Last but not least grandson number one plays the alto saxophone and his grandpa plays the baroque-oboe. A life performance was placed on Facebook to critical acclaim. Well, to be honest it sounds a bit out of tune together which is inevitable, as a modern musical instrument is tuned at a higher pitch than a baroque one. It was fun anyway and will remain a valued remembrance of the 1st of May 2014 – the oboe-player’s landmark-birthday.

Le capitain can boil water, fry an egg and… execute the entire procedure to create bacon-pancakes. Our grandsons love bacon-pancakes – and so do we. It’s a sticky job next to not being all that good for one’s weight. Reasons not to eat them on a regular basis. Together with our grandsons we have eaten them twice. Probably not again in the foreseeable future. À bientôt, nous esperons.