Back on our barge in France for our third season

It was just three weeks ago that I was reading a barging friends blog, and he was commenting on how thoughtful the French are when it comes to strikes or les greves.  Everybody is told when the strike will take place and for how long so as to cause minimal inconvenience to the public.  The SNCF,  the French railway system publicise the dates they strike.   This year, two days a week. Lucky I check the strike schedule because both of our flights were on strike days.  It didn’t affect the fast TGV from Paris. But the connecting train to our port Roanne, where Sojourn was wintered and waiting for us.  So Rob quickly changed our flights to one day later, and voila, pas de probleme.

Rob got to France 10 days before me to ready Sojourn for our 3 month holiday-  fill Sojourns tanks with 2000 litres water, 1000 fuel, change her oil, paint and do boy things in the engine room.

I arrived on the 25th May and we opened a bottle of Cremante that evening (“poor mans Champagne” which tastes as good as champagne but because these vines grow outside the champagne demarcated area it’s forbidden to call it champagne.  It’s made the same way though – around 10 euros a bottle).

Cremante on the aft deck of Sojourn

I LOVE shopping for food in France.  You shop with all your senses- eyes, smell, touch. It’s a feast for the senses to shop.  The plump red cherries, the deep aubergine blueberries, 10 different types of tomatoes, so much choice… a friend was at a market and looked at her list of ingredients – the vendor refused to serve her, saying Madame, you shop with your eyes, not according to a recette(recipe).

Shopping at Grande Frais

And we’re on the way, going somewhere slowly. Very slowly.  The canal is full of blossom, and we weave like flotsam through the blossom.  (spot the problem?)

Blossom on the water

The land slopes downward, so when we enter a lock, its like being on top of the world especially when the locks are 7 metres or more.  I still get jittery about Rob stopping Sojourn in time as it feels we could plough through the lock gates and plunge into the canal below.

Top of a lock

Every time we go into a lock , descend and the Ecluse (lock) doors open, I feel like Alice in Wonderland.  Wondering what new adventure awaits.

Lock gates opening

Time ticks by slowly on the canals, and there is time to savour the moments and the beauty of the French countryside. The colours and textures of the moss and lichen growing on a tree…

Moss and lichen

Time to feed the ducks, to laugh as they race towards the boat as we throw out bread bits.  Some fly in and land skidding on the water.

Baby ducks hoping for yesterdays leftover bread

Time to enjoy the light.. and the reflections in the water

Evening light in Paray la Monial Port de Pleisance

We’re slowing down.  Its good to be back.

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