Bonne Année à Toutes et à Tous
New Year's Eve was so much fun that we can only hope the rest of the year will be able to keep up.
Our neighbors Gilles and Maryvonne had invited us to their boat, just up the pontoon from us, for a small dinner party. We were looking forward to a quiet evening with friends and liked the idea that we didn't have to go far on what turned out to be a frigid day.
We took a late afternoon walk to be out and about in Paris. On the last day of the year, there was palpable excitement in the air, and we bundled up and walked over to the 6th, where we settled down at a prime people-watching café table under the warmth of outdoor heaters to watch the world go by and count how many different languages we heard.
We heard quite a bit of English, but many European languages were also in the air. Tourists from cold countries were well dressed in clothes that looked nice and kept them toasty warm, and the folks from warmer climates had to improvise more to keep from freezing, which created some interesting looks. There was a never-ending parade of couples holding hands, and you could tell they were happy to be part of the last day of the year's excitement in Paris.
The sun started to set as we were on our way back home. The cool crisp air and the light of dusk were so beautiful that we stopped on the île-Saint-Louis to people watch again, this time with Notre Dame as our backdrop. Gilles called us to tell us that he had decided to take his party out on the Seine tonight to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower at midnight. That got us up and moving again, as we had to leave the port at 7 pm.
We cruised out of port, exited the lock on time, and crossed over to the left bank to moor just across from the île-Saint-Louis, where a different dinner cruise went by every 10 minutes. We bounced in their wake and enjoyed the passing view of many people dressed up and ready to kiss in the new year.
Dinner was delicious, with 3-star quality dishes that kept appearing effortlessly, with nice pauses here and there for conversation and champagne. We finished with a cheese tray and desserts, including a Kouign-Amann from Brittany. Yummy. Our dinner was so good that everyone forgot the time, and we didn't start cruising toward the Eiffel Tower until 11:30.
People were out in force all along the Seine, and bridges like the Pont Neuf and the Pont des Arts were jam-packed. The Seine was like a freeway during rush hour. We had never seen so many boats at one time, and Gilles did a fine job of navigating, bringing us to our destination as the clock struck twelve. The lights on the Eiffel Tower flickered, and the crowd cheered. It was thrilling and mooring while celebrating the midnight hour added to the excitement. All hands were already on deck, but Gilles had to get us to stop watching the lights flash just long enough to help him tie up to a barge on the right bank directly across from the show.
Being out on the Seine with friends from our port was the perfect way to start 2010. Sometimes we feel like the luckiest people in the world, and we hope that 2010 will make you feel that way often. We wish you many joyful moments with family and friends in this brand new year.
Carnaval Vénitien de Paris
Thank you to our neighbor Michelle Santi for creating this magical event.
Éclaircie on the Move Again
After a long, cold, delightful winter in Paris, we are on the move again. We passed through the Arsenal lock at 9 am on April 29th, turned left, and headed for the Marne. Our ultimate destination is the Meuse et Sambre shipyard in Andenne, Belgium, but for the first night, we were happy to make it to Lagny-sur-Marne.
You can, of course, drive from Paris to Lagny in about 45 minutes if the traffic is light. By barge, it took us 7 hours to get to the pontoon in Lagny, where we spent our first night.
The following day, we put in another 4 hours to arrive in Meaux at noon. We stayed in Meaux for two nights because the locks were closed on May 1st, and we will take off again early tomorrow morning to put in 3 weeks of 8 hour days before we eventually get to Andenne. How is that possible? You could make the trip from Paris, France to Andenne, Belgium in 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Barge travel is hard to explain, but maybe this 5-minute video of two days of cruising by barge will give you some idea of how pleasant it is to take the slow way to get where you are going.
Cruising on the Marne
From Meaux to Cumières with a stop in Nogent l'Artaud. Up early in the morning, pulling away from one pontoon at 7:30 am and landing on another after 5 pm. The constant rain after Château Thierry kept us huddled inside, trying to stay warm as we cruised along the usually beautiful Marne, which looks less attractive in the cold and the rain.
Le Bal des Pompiers, Paris 4ème
Our cruise to Belgium was great fun, and we had an enjoyable experience in the boatyard, which doesn't happen often, but now we are back home in Paris and enjoying life in our port. This video shows what we did last night to celebrate le quatorze Juillet, France's national holiday.
Friends from the port and town gathered at our local firehouse to dance and drink champagne at the Bal des Pompiers.
The View from our Back Deck
A Portrait of Winter in Paris
Meilleurs Souhaits pour Le Nouvel An!
Que la nouvelle année déborde de bonheur et de prospérité et que tous les voeux formulés deviennent réalité!