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 marveled at the enormous 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 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 enjoying a sunny day in beautiful 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 enjoy this village scene.
After a few days, our friends on the barge 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 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 their 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 hotel barges' crews are good sources of information about what to see and do in the cruise areas. 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 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.
That problem solved, we were free to explore Sancerre, have lunch at one of the outdoor cafés on the square, and 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.