Return to the Seine

Our next stop was in Creil, where we met up with and had a great welcome from our friends from July on ‘Au Treize’, the lovely barge with the conservatory-like area on the foredeck. It was good to see them and swap summer experiences – they had put down extra wooden decking aft, so there was much admiring and discussion of pros and cons etc. They also had helpful advice about winter moorings that we had begun to talk about and look into. Retracing some of our steps was interesting, and has given us a lovely feeling of friendly familiarity, and of having been here longer than we have, perhaps as mostly everywhere around the corner is new, fascinating and perhaps even challenging. In Creil we had very thick fog in the morning, and the day remained chilly enough even after it lifted, as we made our way down the Oise to L’Isle Adam, autumn was arriving. Through Conflans St Honorine, home to many barges and bargees we turned back on to the Seine and waters new again. It was bright and sunny, but very chilly. We saw the big white barge with stained glass windows & a large cross on the side,’Je Sers’ the community centre and chapel of the bargees, as well as many, many other barges, sometimes 4 or 5 abreast. Sadly, many seem to have been retired from working; the life of the private ‘marinier’ is not an easy one, or likely to lead to wealth and prosperity, and sons are not taking over from fathers as once they did. We passed a standard 38m barge with a big banner proclaiming that they could carry 20 times the load of a truck, causing far less pollution and relieving traffic congestion., but it seems that the powers that be aren’t interested. The last night before Paris was spent at Rueil -Malmaison, opposite the famous Maison Fournaise on the ‘Isle des Impressionistes’, where Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, and also Maupassant, the writer, used to meet. Here we came across a live aboard English couple with their beautiful old – very labour intensive – wooden boat, ‘Ruda’, all fitted out in Honduras mahogany and London plane. Built by a company called Lady Bee in 1938 she still has her original Ailsa Craig engines, and cost the equivalent of 14 terraced houses when new! We gather that she is quite tricky to handle and manoeuvre, though much loved.