Friday, 27 June 2014

Paris to Mauvages Tunnel

Jun 14

We both maintain paper diaries, Peter's is a boat one of moorings, hours run, fuel used etc while Angela does the social one (nice churches, shops and boats/people met) so the blog could be a bit superfluous - but with the rapidly changing scenery it is a help to know roughly where we were a week, month, year ago with the pictures to match (Pagny where??).  Angie will also be able to use it to bore her grandchildren to death if she ever has any! Our best man died yesterday unexpectedly so we are both feeling rather mortal especially as he was 5 years younger than Peter!

Back to our travels :) - A greyish run up the Seine to the River Marne and onto new territory again. Commercial traffic was quite thick as one of the northern canals had been blocked.  All the boat ports were full of sports boats given our proximity to Paris but haven't seen a hire boat since the River Loing

River Marne ecluse
A small tunnel to practise for the big ones
At Neuilly ecluse there was a super Moules/frites restaurant adjacent to the pontoon, while waiting for a commercial to come through Peter dashed off to organise a takeaway with his few words of French and the usual sign language - Angie nearly had a heart attack fending off the eclusier when we were called forward sans Peter but the trail of moules shells was worth the effort.

The few river derivations (canalised bits) were narrow and overgrown so a bit slow.

The weather had deteriorated so once we moored (green bank) Peter did his Mrs Mop imitation in the rain  (in a pair of shorts) to clean down the boat  - not a pretty sight. At Lagny we ended up moored to dolphins (Duc d' Albe in french?) - met our first Kiwis this season (John and Jane) on a a baby barge 'Elise Rivet' - the antipodeans seem the only cheerful boaters at the moment not sure why.  Peter and John enjoyed watching the ABs beat England (again).We shared ecluses with them to Meaux where the port was empty when we arrived.

Meaux port

Meaux Cathedral

Meaux Bishops Palace and Gardens

Night view
Good moorings were a bit thin and a few had had their elec/water fittings vandalised which doesn't give one a 'secure' feeling for overnighting so we often used the quais above the ecluses.  Mixed weather, sun followed by rainstorms. We found a supermarket and Angie went beserk filling the trolley to overflowing which was reflected in the bill! Given the cellar was down to its last two cans of beer and dinner had been forecast as canned tuna and salad Peter didn't complain.

Onwards to Vandieres where Angie enjoyed the weather and yes - another BBQ - lovely mooring.

Kes cowering in the shade at the back
A happy boater
Our first 'River Yonne' type locks with sloping sides and internal pontoon
On the pontoon at Reuil we were well in champagne country with all the villages having small Caves (good champagne at €15 a bottle). The second night we moved to fit in an Australian boat 'Charmame' - lent them a power cable and use of the washing machine - a mistake as champagne and a few beers turned into an impromptu party - Chris needs another German posting as the whisky stocks are falling fast (in barrow boy mode Peter swapped what was left in the bottle post party for a Dutch gas bottle)!

Between Reuil and Ay we moved onto the Canal Lateral au Marne (still heading east). We green banked at Ay near a supermarket - given the low diesel price (€127.7/litre) Peter jerricanned 200 litres to the boat - - next top up hopefully in Luxembourg. The east end of the Canal Lateral was boring miles and miles of straight canal and not a lot of scenery or life - very few boats around (one a day).

Chalons en Champagne
Then onto the Canal Marne au Rhin (Ouest) which was much more rural.

A dog's life
TheMarne au Rhin was deserted by both boaters and eclusiers - poorly maintained too with grass growing over ecluse bollards,and the occasional snake moving swiftly away from our noise.

Into Bar Le Duc where we sneaked onto the last mooring (and met the new owner of Avontuur - Ian Lones old barge). Peter got dragged to the top of the old town up thousands of steps (he counted every one and his counting is creative).

Bar le Duc clock tower
.We had been meeting lots of moveable bridges both swing and lift - two at Bar le Duc and on the way out they were combined with the ecluse.

Swing low

Ligny was a lovely little port so we spent three nights there - joined by 'Elise Rivet' the second night - Peter retired half way through the BBQ with a severe case of 'Delhi belly' - Peter blamed the unwashed grapes, Angie the chausson au pomme - unusual as his stomach is normally built of cast iron.


More impressive close up
The weed was getting bad (clearing filters two or three times a day) but the water was stunningly clear - easy to see the bottom of the canal and the fish - strange to be able to see the bottom of the ecluse gates and the paddles operating.

We stopped at Demanges just before the tunnel - another 'desolate' village with the alimentation, boucherie and bar shut down.  Peter is having to bake - pity he sticks to bread (and gingerbread).

Up until recently everyone was towed through Mauvages tunnel but the next morning we went through occasionally accompanied by a cyclist.

Mauvages tunnel tug now disused
It was our longest tunnel to date - nearly 5 km and took us an hour - you wouldn't want to be claustrophobic - Angie didn't touch the side once seriously impressive.

Mauvages tunnel entrance (west end)
Tunnel exit (east end)
The Marne au Rhin (Ouest) is hard work west to east - uphill with 70 ecluses (plus another 12 after the tunnel) in 80km.but now it is downhill to Toul next week.

1 comment:

  1. We met John and Jane on Elise Rivet too! Maybe we passed you on route? Our boat is a red and cream with British flag - 'Foxy Lady' :)