Saturday, 7 September 2013

9th-11th August, Pontoise

First, something really calming:
We had planned to stay a day or two in Pointoise, where this churgh is, because it is just a lovely walled town.  One of those we'll definitely return and stay longer.  Very arty, a chap called Pissaro, and a whole museum devoted to cubism and so on (not the above one!)
I need to show you a barge we passed on the way down, not a 4-unit one;  they look fine in the distance!
 So there!  Here's what our mooring looked like, on a brand new pontoon.  It was Euro 12/night with water and electric, but we needed neither so it was free, and right next to the brand new tourist office!
 In context, from a long walk up into the old castle parapets it looked like this:
Oops!  There goes another commercial...
It is odd how the newer barges, like this one, glide by and create almost no wash or wake and don't bump you against your moorings.  They are usually very pointed and elegant (we're becoming fans), while the older ones are very bull-nosed, and make tremendous wash (and noise).  You may have noticed a progressive metamorphosis of our barge into the floating gardens of babble-on?  Like this:
We walked a lot around Pontoise, it was up and down quite a lot, but at one lovely art museum garden:
The caption reads "You look familiar, didn't I know you?"  Then Nik got lost amongst the lumpy sculptures:
But eventually we had to move onto the Seine, turning left you see and now against the current.  Some lovely houses there, and nice to see hilly bits instead of flat planes:
Some bits are new, and characteristically French in their daring (this bit is still the Oise in fact!)

That's all for now, next bulletin later.  It'll soon be Paris!  Well, the outskirts, and that's when the troubles started, oh dear!

8th August '13, Creil/Nogent-sur-l'Oise

Early morning on the canals can be a nice time, even on large canals it is quiet and still:
You can see the change in temperature overnight by the dew running off the decks.  This was Compiegne still, and we had one task before moving off downstream, visit the best chandlery in France & re-fuel at Ets. (Etablissement) Guerdin.  A charming man helped us, speaking impeccable French, and we bought loads!
The little chap with the car is waiting for us to leave so he can re-fuel too.  We took our time tho'!  He's small fry, look at this, it is four barge units (no motor) in a square formation, being pushed along.  Huge:
So we moored up at a perfectly acceptable spot, no mooring bollards but a tree, and our best stake, at the unremarkable Creil bank, opposite Nogent-sur-l'Oise.  Creil seemed to have suffered from the recession.
Where the swans were nearly ravenous so Nik had to feed them all our bread to escape alive:
This was just us going down the Oise before we leave its relatively calm borders, to join the fairly industrial lower Seine.  Nerves a bit jangly waiting for that!  Anyway, so far, so good.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

5th-8th August, Compiegne

This was always going to be a few days stay, as we'd heard what a lovely place it was, quite true.  We had a nice mooring right in the centre of town, and quite free (of any services too!)
We were overlooked by a large block of rather expensive flats, each with their own balcony, and there we made friends with a remarkable person who was the first Mayor of the Centre of Paris, the 4th Arrondissemennt (that's the islands in the centre that include the one with Notre Dame on).  He came to tea:
He has so many remarkable tales to tell, far beyond the scope of this blog.  The Maquis (the French Resistance), meeting Charles de Gaulle, and many others.  A lovely chap, and he lived in one of the amazing appartments overlooking us.  I could have listened to him all day, and such wonderful French!
Compiegne is a beautiful place, here are some tasters:

What on earth is that monster doing?
Quaint carvings, probably restoration but still amazing.  This little guy doesn't think he should be there at all!
There's an Imperial Palace too (in the background), very impressive but as usual utterly useless.  Amazing car and carriage museum, but mostly unviewable due to a dangerous ceiling and much restoration in progress.  The grounds are nice tho':
They have churches with amazing relics, one had dozens of bones etc. of ancient saints, as thus:
If you look hard you can see skulls and bones of old saints.  I understood they'd been that way a while, so a mausoleum seems a cool idea.  We had to move on however, but will be back.

4th August, Pont l'Eveque/Noyon

I'm being structured now.  This is about the end of the journey down to the first big junction, where we start seeing larger commercials.  The first pictue shows a narrowboat, they're crazy these Brits!

We moored at a a nice spot just above this junction, with a number of commercials, but in the morning:
We had heard there was only one restaurant here worth mention, in fact, it was the only restaurant, so we booked a table for that night, and had a lovely meal.  Here I am ignoring the view
and here's the view:
I asked the patron if it was always this busy (they really squeezed people in) and booked up, and he said yes, it's the only waterside restaurant around.  True, but odd, and odd answer.  It looked like this from the water:
We also had time to cycle quite a way to a nearby town called Noyon (nutty) which had a really old, I think 12th Century cathedral.  Sadly I forgot the camera, we hadn't expected to go so far! But that shouldn't stop me!  It looked like this:
and this is the plan, impressive isn't it.  It was lovely in the flesh, but I don't have any of that!  Next time...
So that was 4th August, I said I was being structured.  Next will be 5th to 8th August.  Where will that be?