European Travel and the Coronavirus
La Renaissance Barge Cruise Photos
Day 4: Wednesday
The next morning, La Renaissance left its mooring site after breakfast and went through the first of several locks in downtown Montargis.
We were still in the Canal de Briare. However, by the time we left Montargis, we would be entering the , which begins just north of the city.
The route through the center of Montargis was scenic and even convivial, since a few locals (mostly children) waved at the barge as we cruised along the canal banks or under car and pedestrian bridges.
Here, we (and Montargis) disappeared from view as La Renaissance passed through a lock.
After emerging from the lock, we got several friendly waves from
officers of the
Montargis police department, who jogged across a bridge as we passed beneath it.
Canal du Loing
Soon, we were back in the countryside, passing through rural locks and walking on towpaths alongside the Canal du Loing.
In the photo above, Durant is opening a lock gate for the converted Dutch tugboat Van Speyk, now a pleasure boat owned by a British couple, which we encountered several times during our week of cruising.
This burly, bearded lockkeeper looked more like a Harley-Davidson motorcyclist or a Louisiana bass fisherman than a public servant in rural France.
As we cruised north toward the Seine, we encountered more barge traffic. Some of the barges carried automobiles for the crews to use in port.
In the late morning, we climbed into the barge's VW minibus for an excursion to , where we were met by a horsedrawn carriage.
Château-Landon is a scenic village on a promentory that overlooks the Fusain River. Along the river, you'll see steps or paths leading down from the village to small houses by the water. These are washhouses, where villagers did their laundry in the days before running water and washing machines.
The village of Château-Landon has an attractive skyline with a Notary Tower (which still houses an attorney's office), the tower of the Notre-Dame church, and the former Saint-Séverin Abbey (now a hospice).
The in Château-Landon was built from the same stone as its Parisian namesake. (An article from Flags of the World reports that stone from the Château-Landon quarry was used for several Paris monuments because of its frost-resistant qualities.)
After satiating our architectural and spiritual appetites during the village tour (which included a visit to an antique armorer's workshop), we repaired to the for lunch with the locals.
Canal du Loing
In the afternoon, we returned to the barge and resumed cruising. It wasn't long until we saw Sylvain (our chef) waiting for us on the canal bank with a collection of grocery bags nearby.
Sylvain's wife and child live in a town along the canal, and he often goes home at night and returns the next day with fresh supplies for the kitchen.
After we'd moored for the night on a quiet stretch of canal near Néronville, Peter Stephenson borrowed one of the barge's eight mountain bikes and tried bicycling for the first time in 40 years. He rode away like a pro, leaving us to set off for the nearest village on foot.
We later encountered Mike, a young crew member who'd followed on another bicycle (presumably to make sure that none of the passengers got killed, injured, or lost).
The "Bar of the Lock" promised drinks and a pianist, but no such luck: We were told that the owner was an elderly lady who kept limited opening hours. So much for clubbing in the French countryside.
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