When it was time for us to leave the comfort of the Paris Arsenal, the pleasure boat port near the Bastille, and cruise out onto the busy Seine River, we did so with the same reluctance that we always have when it's time to leave Paris. No matter how long we stay, it never seems long enough.
Out on the Seine, we once again marveled at the huge barges that cruise so gracefully along, families working and living together, flying through their day on their way to pick up or deliver their payload.
They have priority in the locks, and we know to wait patiently aside until they enter the locks first. Even if the rule books didn't say so, it wouldn't take too much to convince you to give them the right of way.
It took two days on the river to arrive at Moret sur Loing on the Canal du Loing. Moret is a charming medieval village that attracts many visitors. Riding along on the bike path to town we saw people fishing, boating, enjoying a picnic, swimming or just walking along the river. Families being together or couples being alone, everyone was out enjoying a sunny day in very pretty surroundings.
Entering town and riding along the narrow cobblestone streets was a bumpy but pleasant experience. We made a tour around town, and then settled into comfortable chairs at a sidewalk café to watch the world go by.
After a few days, our friends on Pelican arrived to join us once again. We had been meeting them on and off all summer, as we were all following the same route. Meeting friends always requires cocktails on the back deck. It is a boating rule. Heading back to our home port in Roanne along this canal, we knew that we would be seeing old friends all the way home.
As we cruised closer to the towns of Montargis, Rogny and Briare, we started passing all of the hotel barges that travel in the upper Loire valley. They travel with vans to take there passengers to Renaissance châteaux, medieval towns, the beautiful aqueduct at Briare and famous wine villages like Sancerre; the same places that we like to visit.
The crews on the hotel barges are good sources of information about what to see and do in the areas that they cruise. They also usually know about any problems ahead in the canals.
We love waving to the mostly American passengers as they cruise by, and surprising them by saying "Hi, where are you from?". They are always so friendly, and when we moor near them at night, they often come over to ask how we came to be living on a barge in France.
This is the same canal that we took home last year, and we were happy to know that good moorings were ahead. We wanted to stop again in Ménétréol to make the long trip up the hill to the wine village of Sancerre. Since we stopped here last year, we knew that to plug into the electricity here, we would have to knock on the door of the little lady who lives across the street and has the key to the box.
The pressure was on because we were arriving just before noon, and we know better than to tap on her door during her lunch. She is French after all and lunch is sacred. We hurried and moored as quickly as we could. We were pleased to see that it was 15 minutes before noon. Lucky us, we thought, until the little lady scolded us for interrupting her lunch. She said that we would have to wait until after she finished her lunch before we could plug in our electric. We quickly jumped into the, "We have a little problem, please help us.", mode that seems to work best for getting what you need in France. We added our most pleading looks, she stared at us for awhile, and then she very reluctantly agreed to come over and to open the little door to the electrical box.
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That problem solved, we were free to explore Sancerre, have lunch at one of the outdoor cafés on the square, and to stock up on some of the town's famous wines.
Back on the canals, heading to Roanne for our third winter there, nothing much happened and that was fine with us. We relaxed and enjoyed the scenery.