Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

  • January 2017
    M T W T F S S
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Maisons Alfont to Vaire-sur-Marne

Posted by contentedsouls on 24/01/2017

After all the excitement of Paris, and particularly being out from under the trees and in the sun, the decision to move on in the morning was unanimous. We hoped to complete the 3 locks and 21 kms and be tied up at a new mooring by 2.00pm.

Yet again, after battling with rigid, frozen, ropes, we moved off and called the Marne lock – the second one off of the Seine … and we called and we waited and we called and we waited. Eventually we pulled onto the waiting pontoon and I hopped off to take this photo. On the noticeboard, the information saying to call on channel 20 (as per the first lock and the Fluviacarte) had been covered over with  Dymo tape and changed to ‘19’. Humph.


So we called on 19 and received an incomprehensible reply from Mr Grumpy. After about half an hour (as long as they are allowed to delay you without explanation), he decided to empty the lock for us. Once we’d pulled into the lock and I had a rope on, I was committed to sitting out there freezing my arse off. Mr Grumpy – who clearly wasn’t getting enough at home (either that or his wife had put him on a diet and/or hidden his wine) – then decided to wander off and do something more interesting rather than close the gates and fill the lock. An hour and three quarters it took us to get through that bloody lock for absolutely no reason and, yes, I was very cold and suffering from a massive sense of humour failure.

Having exited the lock, it was straight into a one way tunnel and, fortunately, he had bothered to turn the lights green – I don’t really think of tunnels as tunnels when you can see the other end and they are big and wide and all lit up; Stanedge this certainly wasn’t.


Along the Marne are a number of ‘link’ canals which cut out wriggly/shallow stretches. Our next lock put us up onto one of these; the Canal de Chelles and we had to wait for a commercial in front of us to go through and the lock be re-set. This canal runs straight and true for a, rather boring, 9kms. The only excitement was when I saw one commercial overtaking another – they were side by side and heading straight at us, filling the entire width of the canal! This, of course, was the moment for my camera battery to die … doh. I managed to get the spare battery in by the time the overtaking container vessel came passed us and it never feels like there is enough room – you know there is …but….

container ship

Having reached the other end we, again of course, had to wait for the commercial ahead and the lock to be turned. The navigation continues upstream to the left after this lock, but we were turning right and hugging the right bank in search of a little mooring mentioned in the DBA files.


The problem with this was that it was now so late in the day that the sun was sitting just above the horizon and we couldn’t see a thing other than glare and silhouetted trees and shrubs. So we went down and turned (needed to moor pointing upstream anyway) to put the sun behind us and found our little patch of heaven. Not only have we got all of the boat on the bank, we also have sun on the solar panels, sun (providing free daytime heat) through our big picture windows most of the day and a TV signal for the first time in 2 weeks. I also have a choice of circular walks along the river, canal, two lakes and woodland and there are very few people/joggers/cyclists/dog walkers around. We are moored where the green splodge is on the map. My cup runneth over. If I’d known then what I know now, we would have been much better off being ill here and then going back for the Paris cruise, but hindsight ‘tis a wonderful thing and we had no idea that we would take so long to recover. I love the way the shade from the boat keeps our outline silhouetted in the frost.


We won’t be moving from here in a hurry – especially in these minus temperatures. Pretty much every canal in the NE of France is now closed due to ice. They started off arranging convoys behind ice breakers but lost that battle after 3 or 4 days. Due to the, pretty much, continuous commercial traffic; our little Chelles canal remains navigable.


6 Responses to “Maisons Alfont to Vaire-sur-Marne”

  1. I remember looking out for that mooring as we passed and wondering. How will you manage for water if you stay awhile in frozen conditions? Enjoying your blog and especially interesting to hear how winter cruising works.


  2. vallypee said

    Poor you! Having to wait so long for the lockie!! MOG, that one! It sounds as if you have arrived in heaven…lovely place lovely pics!


    • Hi Charles, glad you are enjoying the blog – that mooring is well worth a visit, but might be very popular in the summer. Also, I guess, people want different things from moorings – this one is half an hour’s walk from the nearest small shop and fuel station but the rural situation and excellent walking more than make up for that for me.
      To cruise here in winter you must have facilities to filter your own water. We hang a water pump over the side (ensuring we are not downstream of sewage plants and/or residential live aboards) and have a series of (machine washable) reducing and charcoal filters, followed by an ultra violet light box. Very occasionally water is available in some of the bigger locks.

      As for the frozen in bit; if you’re clever, lucky and have reliable weather forecasts, you stay on the rivers when it’s freezing and get back on the canals before the rivers flood. Yeah, I know!!!!!!!!!!!! If caught out on canals when it freezes, just stick something in the water to keep an ‘Eskimo’ style hole to drop the pump through.


    • MOG????? You trendy young thing – what does that mean. We left that mooring this morning (after a week) in search of a doctor, dentist, shops and a restaurant for a couple of days; but the way it’s going we may well return shortly. I think we’ll have to go back to Paris to get our stove fitted – either that or air con if it takes much longer

      Liked by 1 person

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