Updated: Mar 17
We had planned to cruise into Paris last July, but it took us a whole year to make our way there on our barge with one thing and another. The thrill of looking up at La Tour Eiffel and Notre Dame from the deck of our boat made it worth the wait. What a fantastic way to enter such a beautiful city. We have arrived many times by plane, train or car, but this was our first time cruising in on our barge.
Knowing how heavy the river traffic can be with sightseeing boats and commercial barges, we planned our arrival on a Sunday morning. We were hoping that the traffic would be lighter. Outside of Paris, we fell in behind a small commercial barge, and luckily for us, we were able to follow them into the heart of the city. Tagging along after them, we mimicked their every move. They stayed to the right and cruised at a slow speed, just as we had planned to do. When it was time to move to the left side of the channel, as indicated on our charts, we did not have to wonder if we were doing it correctly; we just followed their lead. Thanks to our escort, we had time to enjoy the sights and savor the moment.
The Arsenal, the pleasure boat port in Paris near the Bastille, was full when called to say that we were arriving. We called around and found that we could moor at a dock near the Pont de la Concorde while waiting for a place in the Arsenal. The view and location should have made it a spectacular mooring. We could see the Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde off our bow and Pont Alexandre III and La Tour Eiffel from our back deck, but because of all sightseeing boats flying back and forth, it was an incredibly choppy mooring. The bouncing forced us off our barge early each day, and we stayed out as late as we could because the river traffic did not stop until 11 pm. Toby came with us because he was afraid of all the bouncing and noise on the barge, and we found dog-friendly places to spend our time. Le Champ de Mars and Jardin des Tuileries have great benches and lots of people to watch. Cafés became our home away from home.
We spent so much time café sitting that we could have written a book like many café sitters before us. It was fun, but we were still delighted when we called the Arsenal and found that they finally had a mooring for us.
The Port de Plaisance de Paris Arsenal, located off the River Seine on the Canal St. Martin at the Bastille, is the place to moor in Paris. After four days of rocking and rolling on the river, it was a treat to enter calm waters. Now the view from our back deck was the Colonne de Juillet, and because Toby was not afraid to stay on the boat, we were free to ride the Metro. (Dogs are not allowed on the Metro.) We bought a book of tickets and went about Paris enjoying our new freedom to go out and come back home as we pleased.
Summer in Paris was a pleasant surprise. We have always come to Paris in the off-season to avoid the crowds, but there were not as many tourists as we would have thought, and the weather was great most of the time.
There were parades, festivals, and a Sunday Skate for rollerbladers.
La Fête de la Musique on June 21st was Fantastic! Music filled the evening air throughout Paris. From what we saw as we wandered from neighborhood to neighborhood, the music seemed to be appropriate to each arrondissement. On the Île Saint-Louis, there was a saxophone group and two choirs, and at the Place des Vosges, there was a great jazz ensemble, and at the Bastille, a young Bob Dylan clone. Music was everywhere. It was a warm evening, and throughout the city, the streets were full of people enjoying the music. It was a magical night.
We always love being in Paris, and this time, with our barge moored in the middle of the city, we felt as though we lived there. But after three weeks of enjoying Paris, it was time to fire up the engine and castoff for our next major destination, Namur, Belgium.
Au revoir Paris.