La Renaissance Barge Cruise Photos
Day 3: Tuesday
Canal de Briare
Tuesday's cruise down the Canale de la Briare involved more locks--some operated manually by lockkeepers or boaters, and others with automated controls like the one above. (With this type of device, there's no need to crank the gates open by hand--you just pull the blue lever, and an automatic mechanism takes over.)
We passed more barges and boats, including this cargo barge in a rural area between Montbouy and Montargis.
At an écluse along
the canal, the lockkeeper's dog gave us the once-over...
...and the lockkeeper maintained the stereotype of the flirtatious Frenchman by giving Cheryl a sprig of lilacs from his front garden.
Around 2:30 p.m., we approached Montargis, an historic town in the Gâtinais region about 110 km or 69 miles south of Paris.
La Renaissance moored at a quay on the southern edge of downtown Montargis, within easy walking distance of the town center. (You see the barge's minibus parked alongside.)
After La Renaissance was tied up in Montargis, we were taken to , a chocolate shop in the city center that has been making confections (including pralines) for more than a century.
According to tradition, the confiseur Léon Mazet discovered the original praline recipe from the court of Louis XIII in 1903. Today, some 350 years after praslines were invented, the Mazet shop in downtown Montargis (which is now owned by M. Mazet's grandson) still makes the delectable caramelized-almond confections and a variety of chocolate candies.
The Mazet confectionery shop is worth visiting even if you don't have a sweet tooth, thanks to an ornate decor that looks much the same as it did more than 100 years ago.
After sampling praslines, we were given tourist maps and turned loose to explore Montargis on our own.
Montargis is billed as "the Venice of the Gâtinais,"
thanks to a network of side canals and stone bridges that extend from the Canal de Briare. In the
photo above, you can see a square with a café overlooking one of the canals.
The Montargis city planners have done a nice job of blending the old with the new: In the photo above, the wooden timbers and roof on top of the stone wall mask a parking lot.
The canals of Montargis provide a habitat for aquatic wildlife. In this photo, a duck nibbles at the long weeds that float on the surface of the water in a quiet side canal.
We discovered that, in the back streets of the old town, modern architecture co-exists with medieval dwellings--usually behind historic façades.
In a city park, we noticed that French graphic designers don't mince images when warning park users to curb their dogs.
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