Monday June 19. Cumières was an excellent stop for us. The beautiful wine village of Hautvillier a highlight of the season so far. But it was time to move on so we cast off and headed downstream. The engine water started to overheat again so after a few locks we tied up and let it cool down. Alan added more water and is becoming increasingly confident that the problem is a leaky radiateur cap. After a cool down and water top up we continued towards Dormans, 25 kms west of Cumières. The weather is again stunning. 30° and the odd puff of breeze. A swim may be on the cards this week. While we are moving the breeze created is blissful! We are cruising through endless slopes of vine covered hills on both sides of the river, in places extending all the way down to the water. Dotted through out are the ubiquitous little white vans of the workers, tending to the vines. They must get very hot!
We moored at Dormans and visited the impressive World War 1 memorial behind the town on the grounds of Chateau de Dormans. The memorial is massive and encompasses a chapel, a crypt, a small museum of weapons and uniforms, and a 100 step spiral staircase to a magnificent view over the vineyards. Truly stunning and well worth the climb.
The mooring is ok, €9.90 for mooring, power and water. The downside is the very loud and busy train line and church bells that ring every 15 minutes. So not a peaceful stay but we swam twice, the temperature at 33°C was stifling. We encountered a psycho swan. He pecked at our boat, tried to mate with the fenders and generally made a nuisance of himself consistently all day. We later saw a pair of swans with five cygnets so he was probably protecting his territory.
Tuesday June 20th. Another hot day, temperatures are forecasted for 36°C this week and there is little breeze to cut through it. The Marne river is beautiful here. Twisting and turning between the vine covered slopes.
We moored in Chateau-Thierry on a small pontoon, room for 3 boats. Parked on the adjacent road were lots of circus caravans. They were setting up for a fete at the weekend which will make the mooring very noisy so we didnt want to stay here long. The heat was oppressive during the afternoon, hitting the forecasted 36° or more. Alan traipsed off to find a bricolage and mechanic, on the hunt for a new radiator seal or cap but no luck. He did however find the right tool to clear the weed from the electric toilet so job well done, pun intended. Later we found a restaurant in town with a water mister, spraying a fine mist of water over the patrons to keep us cool. So delicious.
Wednesday June 21. Yet again a scorcher, (are you sick of hearing about the weather yet?) The French authorities have declared an orange alert for almost all of France. After the national disaster in 2003 when 15,000 mainly elderly died in a heatwave, they take it very seriously.
We set off at 8.30am and enjoyed the breeze created by our movement. After a while the engine needed a cool down so we moored in Charly and did our grocery shopping at the nearby Super U, a good size supermarket not far from the river. Very convenient. Later we cruised on down to La-Ferte-Sous-Jouarre (that’s a mouthful!), a lovely mooring behind a small island so some shade in the evening. Hurrah! The temperature crept up and up to 37°C. We swam off the back of the boat and it was lovely. It was hard to sleep that night as the cabin temperature was stifling.
Thursday June 22nd. Yet another 37°C day, the last for a while I hope. We explored the town with its pretty Hôtel de Ville built in 1886. We tried to check out the church but couldn’t find a way in, a metaphor if ever I wrote one. The boulangerie closest to the bridge does a very acceptable baguette. We spent the afternoon moving from the deck to the river and back. The air was stifling.
Friday June 23rd. We were planning on heading the 40kms down to Meaux today until we read on the VNF iPhone app that there is going to be a water festival this weekend and the port would be closed. So we stayed put and instead, since the weather has finally cooled off, walked to the WW1 War Memorial commemorating the 3,888 British soldiers who lost their lives in the 1914 battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne rivers. Sobering stuff. The heatwave has finally calmed down and it was only 27°. Much more pleasant.
Saturday June 24th. Another cooler day today. Yay! A very quiet day, grocery shopping at the local Carrefour and some housework. It’s lovely to stay in one spot for a while, especially one so pretty. Being free helps of course. We’ll probably head off on Monday although if all the boats here are going to Meaux there may be a problem with space but we’ll see what happens.
We are only about 50km west of Paris now and have over a week until our booking at the Arsenal port.
Here is the week in stats:
Cumières to Dormans, 3 engine hours, 24kms, 3 locks
Dormans to Chateau Thierry, 2.8 engine hours, 25kms, 2 locks
Chateau Thierry to La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre, 4.8 engine hours, 39kms, 4 locks.
Now we are on the Marne river and not on canals there are less locks and consequently we are travelling further, more quickly.
Totals Week 6
77 engine hours, 429kms, 178 locks and 2 tunnels.