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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paris, in the summer, when it sizzles.


Cole Porter said he loved it, but I don’t believe that he was actually here in the summer.  It does indeed sizzle, but that’s not a good thing.  We’ve had two days of 35C/92F + weather and we are very pleased that it seems to have broken.  If this is what July and August are like we are out of here “tout de suite”. Not only is it hot but it’s humid and miserable..

The Arsenal port is “an oasis in the middle of Paris” but it is also set down below street level and get’s some breezes but they seem to2011-06-951 have been pre-heated by the streets by the time they get here.  Once the sun goes behind the buildings it cools off some and the late nights are lovely, but the afternoon from 2 to 8 is very hot.  So what? head off to a museum or something.  Nice idea, but it’s summer and the museums involve at least a one hour line (in said hot weather) waiting for tickets, the metro is not air conditioned, the department stores are rumoured to be cooled  but either the hamster running the compressors hasn’t been fed or the thermostats are set to 90F.

So we have decamped to the bedroom of the boat which is at water level, has a nice little fan and toughed out the last two days.  Cooler weather is forecast so we will try and get all our museuming done and make a run for the (hopefully) cooler countryside before the real sizzle returns for a longer run. Perhaps we will return in the fall when, according to Cole Porter, it does nothing at all – sounds good.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Grey Skies and Silver Linings

Our string of fabulous weather seems to have ended with Noodle.  Since we lost her the weather has got cooler and greyer.  We even had a squall on the Marne a few days ago and we worried about losing the Bimini.  I held onto it to stabilize it but in retrospect it was silly because if it blew off I would have probably parasailed away with it.  Now the weather has settled in to grey days, a cool wind and occasional light showers.  But do we care?  Hell no, we’re in Paris!


A month ago we were worried that the weather would be too hot here as the Port d’Arsenal is set down below the surrounding city and can be stifling in hot weather.  So this weather is great for us. Armida is slotted in at the northern end of the port where we 2011-06-823can see the people getting on and off the Metro at the Bastille station but we really can’t hear the trains.  Rates have gone up since last year so we may not stay as long as we had thought but it is still a lot cheaper than a hotel.  After five nights we still pinch ourselves every time we go out in the streets.

On Tuesday we had a long day of shopping and schlepping so opted for  an early dinner on the boat . After dinner I decided to go out for a walk and as I emerged from our secret hollow I was surrounded by throngs of people and music everywhere.  It was June 21st, the summer solstice, which has been the “Festival of Music” in France since 1982.  Anyone who wants can perform, and there were all sorts.  We got Rosie and made our way over to the beautiful Place des Vosges where the medieval arched ways were filled with all sorts of musical groups and appreciative people.  There was a new group every 20m or so.  Rather than compete they seemed to transitions seamlessly.  It was a magical evening which we finished at 11PM with Champagne and people watching in a street side brassiere.  But wait, there’s more.  We sat down next to a distinguished older couple and exchanged pleasantries.  After people kept coming up and talking to them we had to ask, and discovered that he was Edgar Morin, a famous French philosopher.  France must be one of the few countries left that has philosophers at all, let alone appreciates them.



Our friend Patricia (from SLO) came to visit us yesterday.  Many years ago she lived and worked in Strasbourg and has kept up a friendship with a French girl from 40 years ago.  Her daughter is getting married in their home town of Versailles in the 14th century church of Louis IV and a reception for 200 at a hill top Abby.  Sounds delightful.

This morning Terry is headed to an antique fair a few blocks away in the tiny Saint-Paul area.  Rosie and I will accompany her, but she will undoubtedly outlast us.

That time constraint I talked about at the top of the blog may be adjusted – Terry wants to stay forever! It is supposed to get hot (35C/92F) on Monday if you can believe the notoriously unreliable forecasts here, so we will see. So much more to do!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where have they been?

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What is unusual about this picture?  How about two American flags?  Other than a sailboat we passed just before the Mauvages tunnel this is the first American boat we have seen on our trip – lots of Dutch, German, British, a few Aussies and a Kiwi or two but not many from North America – oh, and the occasional French.  Peter and Lil are from Florida, a very nice couple.  We also met a boat load of expat Californians living on Vancouver Island and a couple from Melbourne.  Must be being close to Paris.
We are staying for the historical spectacle they do through the summer here and then into Paris on Sunday.

Friday, June 10, 2011

La Ferte-sous-Jouarre

(The Fort below Jouarre)

Lots of changes. Noodle is gone and we are just three.  We are on the Marne River, not the canals.  The sleepy forgotten little villages with their lovely old abandoned houses are behind us.  Once we hit the Champagne district all the waterfront property was suddenly prime real estate.  There is a different class of boats for the river which are wider and in most cases quite flashy.  We are now in the I’le de France and it’s a straight run to Paris from here with just a few locks.  The towns are larger and closer together.  Many have train stations for the Paris commuter.  Every kind of shopping and many restaurants. 

Today was the type of day I pictured in all my dreams of canaling.  Coffee and chocolate croissant for breakfast.  A trip to the florist to buy a huge pot of pink geraniums for 15Euros.  Rob said, “Does that include the pot!”.  “Yes”. 

A visit to the tourist office where a pretty young woman talked about the history,with all the French little hand gestures and gave us brochures and maps guiding us to the brie cheese factory, 1400th century Abbey (with crypts) that still house Nuns, historic homes and buildings, forest walks…you name it they got it.  In the old times this area was known for their hard rocks that were made into mill-stones that were shipped down the Marne, all over Europe, to the mills to grind wheat into flour.  The Church and many of the building are made from broken up stone wheels.  2011-06 548

Today was market day.  Well, what can I say.  It was like being in a  French film.  Suddenly there are make shift shops appear on  the street.  Half the town come to do the week shopping.  The best market and best quality I’ve ever  seen.  Competition is fierce so the displays, service and prices are amazing.   Butchers cut the steaks, chops and various pieces on the spot according to your liking.  Our perfect pink veal is cut thin, as we prefer.  2011-06 544

What is that fish with spots?

This is the center of the Brie area and the 1/8 of a Brie wheel and the local bread was to die for (I hope not).

Here is a photo of the things we bought.  Total Price:  34.20Euros

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That a half kilo of spinach, beans and cherries.  Those perfect mushroom to have with our veal were just 2.60. 

Even Rob said he had a good time and he hates shopping.   

This is too much fun.  

PS.  I got a haircut here too.  Exact same cut as when I was 5.

See below when my hair was red.2011-06 573

Terr at4

We are soooo lucky. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sad Days in Champagne

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There is a hole in our life and one less traveller in our party.  Our beloved little black dog Noodle’s heart finally gave out last weekend. We think she had a heart attack last Friday night but she soldiered on through the weekend and on Monday the Capitan of the port in Epernay took us to the Vet who found her heart was barely functioning and we had to make the hard decision to have her put to sleep.

Those of you who knew Noodle know what a great dog she was and how lucky we were to have had her.  Poor little Rosie (above) doesn’t know what to do in life as Noodle was her leader and guide, but she, like us, will adjust.

We buried Noodle in the middle of a field of poppies next to the Marne, overlooked by the vineyards of Champagne and right beside a field of wheat.  So we will be reminded of her whenever we have a glass of bubbly, eat some great bread or see bright red poppies.

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