Friday, 5 December 2014

2014 June - a busy month!

We left Paris on 5th June;  first stop, Lagny-sur-Seine.  Good market, pleasant town, nice mooring:
By the way, I forgot to mention that we'd had a major engine problem en route to Moret-sur-Loing, i.e. it wouldn't start, or took ages to do so.  More of that later. Next stop was Meaux, from whence commeth Brie de Meaux, and Moutarde (mustard) de Meaux, in fact you can there buy one inside the other (nice!). I could use up a whole blog entry on Meaux, but I won't you know.  Nice Palace.  The lovely facia on the left is theatrical, for some play or other.  The other bit is 100% genuine.
We stayed 4 days, loads to see, eat, visit.  Good mooring, met lots of other boaters.  So anyway, the engine would barely start in the locks as I was going along the Loing in May, very embarrassing.  In the end, it packed up when trying to leave a mooring to enter a lock, and for hours I was stuck.  I called, emailed and texted, to no avail, and a nearby barge kindly came to educate me on engines.  Urged on by them, I changed things, fuel filter, and so on.  No go.  Back to this trip.  We were very lucky to find a certain mooring at Mary-sur-Marne was free, as it's shorter than us, but gives access to a super & cheap restaurant.  So good in fact that we stayed 3 nights just to eat there:
As you can see, the boat is riot of colour.  Bolly fell in, hence I'm comforting him.  He soon regained his nerve though, it must've been that nineth life (or so):
I won't bore you with a picture of us eating yet again, but it was about 14 Euro for a 4 course meal including wine & coffee, and very good too.  Sadly this is unusually exceptional value in France.  Regarding the engine, even though it was late Friday afternoon, I managed to get hold of a boatyard owner who was working but very happy to help me, Simon Evans.  Thank you Simon.  He agreed with my idea that it could be the Stop device sticking, and told me where to find it.  After a lot of leaning over a warm engine with a torch, I found it and fiddled with it.  This was to become an art form I practised often for a few days.  Next stop La Fuerte-sur-Jouarre, where we celebrated Friday 13th in style, in the nicest restaurant there, including Champagne:
Ooh it were nice'n'warm in them days.  It was quite a cycle from our mooring, and dark when we finished, so we really had to use the cycle lights for the first time, and it was still warm in shorts.  To conclude my engine story, the manufacturer Beta Marine agreed to send me the part to Moret-sur-Loing, all free of charge, so long as I returned the faulty one.  It came, and rather than wait for the local handyman, I was impatient to see if I was correct and in an hour I'd replaced it;  so far, so good.  Job done.  Smug look !
Anyway, next on this 'ere June trip was Manteuil-sur-Marne, where some likely lads asked if they could borrow our kyak, and we neither of us could think of any good reason why not?  We can now !
These are the 'experienced' ones, supposedly, all of whom fell in, repeatedly.  The only self-confessed novice (not above) only went in when the others dive-bombed and then tipped him in, as an act of friendship I gather.  By now the more observant readers will have noticed we're going up the river Marne, which was not on our plan at all.  It was an experiment, as friends said it was lovely, and was, so we just kept going.  It meant a trip about 3-4 times longer than planned, but it looked possible, if a lot of locks, tunnels, etc.
So we soldiered on, the boat looking a real picture with flowers in full bloom:
See what I mean, really lovely, and the stereo birdsong was unreal, just like headphones! This was a late start, all the moorings were full, and then the lock closed early, before 6pm;  luckily a nice pontoon nearby:
Bollinger had this large island all to himself and revelled in it. From Vandiere, our next stop was Port-au-Binson, an odd name, but the oddest thing was this view.  It was taller than the nearby Church spire:
We'd been seeing this statue for miles, and couldn't believe how prominent it was.  It's of Pope Urbain II, whose claim to fame/notoriety is that he started the whole Crusade thing, that's him pointing the way.  Well, that's what the monument said when we cycled up there (phew!). We hired a car to visit more champagne places and lovely places like Hautvilliers, which has over 30 such Houses;  we found this one:
So we had to meet someone who'd parents with such good taste as to choose our youngest's name, and I told him that was why I had to buy some of his champagne, but he forced me to drink some first:
This indeed was Marius, though his son now runs the business and he just does tastings and "Direct Sales".
Next stop was Epernay, Champagne city:
It's true I have a much nicer picture of this tower, of Castellane Champagne (the bottle always has a red diagonal stripe on), but this illustrates nicely the fact that the second dearest river mooring is pretty inconveniently separated from civilisation by a long strip of railway ! We stayed there one night before decamping to moor just by Carrefour in Epernay, for free !  We really liked Epernay too, and were going to take the train to Rheims, but there was a longish rail strike, so we hired a car to go there:
That's pretty wierd, even more so than the famous so-called Smiling Angel, just out of sight on my right ! Inside was lovely, here's an example:
I think we sampled about 12 makes of champagne, visited some more just to buy, and am a bit of a convert to some of them.  Here is one in Epernay less visited, Jacquinot et fils, with bottles for sale back to 1948 !
At the right price, and given the time for the second fermentation of course. Do I look happy?
Next we went on to Marieul-sur-Ay, and this picure of fields tumbling down to the main road shows just how valuable every square inch of Champagne land is, used to the limit:

Next stop was Chalons-en-Champagne (formerly called Chalons-sur-Seine, renamed in pursuit of tourists!  Not that they've any need as it's a simply super place, where we stayed well into July, so next in the next blog post !

No comments:

Post a Comment