France Fall 2012 – Week2 Recap (he said)18 Sep 2012
Last week’s recap ended with Saturday night’s fireworks display in Moret-sur-Loing, and we liked the town and the mooring so much we spent Sunday evening there too. Three nights in one spot is a little decadent for us since we typically need to run the engine to create hot water for showers and washing dishes. But the port in Moret-sur-Loing has nice hot land showers, so we stayed put.
Sunday morning we biked the 20 minutes over to St. Mammes and their nice street market, where we picked up some fruits and vegetables, and a couple nice cheeses, an aged goat cheese coated in gray mold, and a tomme de brebis with the characteristic perfect contrast of supple yet firm texture.
Monday morning we left the Seine River and began our trip south on the Loing Canal, arriving in the big town (or small city) of Nemours by lunchtime. We hit the convenient laverie automatique on the main road, and did some restocking at the big Intermarche on the east side of town. That is half the fun (if that’s the word) of living on a small boat with an even smaller fridge; one day you can’t find anything because the fridge is packed, and the next day you’re out of supplies. It takes a little getting used to, shopping every two or three days.
Tuesday we planned to enjoy a nice walking tour of Nemours but were foiled by the first rain of our fall trip. We changed gears and spent the morning relaxing, reading, and sorting photos (a LOT of photos), then continued south a couple hours to a remote mooring near Souppes-sur-Loing. Souppes used to be the site of a quarry for the yellow stone that was used in the construction of some of the most prestigious buildings in Paris. And of course the canal we’re on was how the stone got from Souppes to Paris back in the day. Now the usine (factory) has been converted over to glass recycling.
From Souppes we motored south for six hours and arrived in Montargis, the biggest city we’ll see until Nevers a couple weeks from now. Montargis is criss-crossed with many little canals, and calls itself la petite Venise du Gâtinais (the little Venice of the Gâtinais). The port is a vibrant boating community, with a number of live-aboards, and is also close to several boulangerie and the walking/shopping district. Montargis is where the Canal du Loing ends and the Canal de Briare (the oldest canal in France) begins.
The city boasts a church big enough to be a cathedral, except that it was never the seat of a bishop, and hence is technically only a parish church. The church contains a stained-glass window depicting the “dog of Montargis” who, when his master was killed by an envious knight, displayed such hostility towards the killer that the court took this as sufficient evidence to have the perpetrator hanged. I suppose the rules of evidence were a bit lax in the early 15th century.
Montargis is also where the first pralines were created, back in the time of Louis XIII. The original shop is still in business.
After two enjoyable nights in Montargis we moved on to Montbouy, a one-boulangerie town on a rural stretch of canal. A couple kilometers north of town is the ruin of a Roman amphitheater (uncovered while digging the canal 350 years ago).
From Montbouy it was a short cruise to Châtillon-Coligny, which has one of the nicer halte-nautiques (ports) on the Briare Canal. Saturday was the start of les journées européennes du patrimoine (European heritage days). Most towns and châteaux put on some type of special event, and Châtillon-Coligny was no exception.
The nice lady at the port office was very excited to tell us all about the local patrimoine events. She pointed us towards a beautiful château nearby (Château de la Bussière) that was only 12 kilometers away, easily manageable by bike. The château is known as the fisherman’s castle because the owner is absolutely bonkers for fishing. He had that place decorated in fish prints, fish paintings, fish sculptures, fish books, and a rather gruesome giant fish sitting in what looked like formaldehyde (?). They invited artisans from all over to set up shop on the grounds, so we could wander among tents of wood carvers, brick makers, blacksmiths, cooks, painters, and even the proverbial basket-weavers. Definitely a fun (and delicious) afternoon.
Then, that evening, the town put on what they called une animation (difficult to translate). A bunch of town residents dressed up in period costumes, mostly 19th and early 20th century, and set up various stations around town. There was a farm station, where “workers” pretended to hoe the ground, tend a vegetable garden, wash clothes, etc.
The whole procession was accompanied by a man with a megaphone giving a running commentary of the events we were witnessing. We passed a wine growers station, baker’s station (where the “baker” handed out free hunks of bread), even a little street scene where they re-enacted the assassination of Jean Jaurès with a loud bang (commentator: “and Jean Jaurès is dead”). The procession then ended in the square by the church where volunteers served crêpes and cider to the crowd. A lot was lost in translation, but we had a fun evening nonetheless.
Fall 2012 Week 2 Numbers:
- Kilometers: 66
- Locks: 31
- Engine Hours: 16
- Cost of Moorings: 16.80 euros
Fall 2012 Total Numbers:
- Kilometers: 166
- Locks: 49
- Engine Hours: 33
- Cost of Moorings: 45.40 euros