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
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Archive for January 27th, 2017

Interesting mooring (or not) and observations on the French medical system

Posted by contentedsouls on 27/01/2017

The Gods clearly haven’t stopped messing with me yet and I could no longer ignore the fact that I needed to see a doctor so, after a week in our idyll, we moved on to the town of Lagny-sur-Marne. This was always in our plans anyway – after a steady 4kms without encountering either locks or ice flows, we encountered our mooring pontoon and could see electric bournes. I started to get a weensy bit excited even though I knew they’d be switched off as sometimes, just sometimes, we can turn them back on. Whilst I was getting excited, Graham’s (whose eyesight is way better than mine) jaw was starting to drop – it was awhile before my eyesight caught up and I could see the reason why.


Just how were we meant to get off, as the gangway to the pontoon had been removed and our passerelle wasn’t long enough to bridge the gap? After extensive research by European Facebook friends, it became apparent that the gangway is removed from November to March every year for fear that the odd hardy winter cruiser might turn up and spend money in the town. My French boaty friend, Zag, says it’s a new system the French have introduced to avoid vandalism – if you make the pontoon unreachable, then no boats stop and so there is no vandalism. Problem solved! She says they are thinking of exporting the idea to Belgium and the Netherlands.

So we did our usual and found a couple of trees to tie to on the opposite bank. As we are now on the opposite bank we are, strictly speaking, in Thorigny-sur Marne and less than 5 minutes walk from the station with trains to Paris every 30 minutes (not that we can take advantage of trains to Paris as we can’t leave Baxter for long enough). It’s only a short walk back to the shops and restaurants in the pleasant town of Lagny.


The internet tracked down a doctor not too far from the boat and we rang the following morning and I was offered either an appointment or ‘walk in and wait surgery’ between 2 and 6 pm. Encounters with the medical profession in France are a whole different experience from those in the UK. Firstly, they are usually in the front room of the doctor’s house. Secondly, there are usually no receptionists or clerical staff and thirdly, the doctor has a credit card machine on his/her desk so you can ‘pay as you go’. I’m not good with fixed appointments; I always tend to be 10 minutes late and G likes to be 30 minutes early so he starts nagging me and we both then end up in a foul mood, so I opted for the walk in and wait session.

At 2pm we trundled down to the doctor’s front door and let ourselves into the nicely warm waiting room, congratulating ourselves that there was no-one waiting ahead of us. We made ourselves comfortable and I observed that it would be a lovely place to go for a sit down and a warm if you were homeless. When nobody else came in or departed, it occurred to G that all was not progressing as it should, so he popped outside and had another look at the plate on the wall where it said that surgery hours on Thursday were 4 ‘til 6pm. We returned to the boat, amazed that they would leave the waiting room door unlocked outside of opening hours (if you’re homeless,  cold, or just in need of a sit down in this area then let me know and I’ll give you the address).

Returning at 4pm I was 4th in line and settled down happily with my Kindle – away from the constant interruptions of Baxter deciding he needs another pee (or, when he gets out there, perhaps not). Each time the door opened and another patient came in, there was a chorus of ‘bonjours’ around the room. At 2 minutes past 5 another patient came in and I thought I’d get in first with a jaunty bonjour – it died on my lips as a chorus of ‘bonsoirs’ echoed around the room. If anyone can give me a definitive time when ‘jour’ ends and ‘soir’ starts, I will be eternally grateful.

Eventually my turn came around – the doctor came out to fetch me and shook my hand before leading me into her office. I was not asked for my address, date of birth, or even my age!!!!!!!!!! I had a very thorough 45 minute consult and, after producing my European Health Insurance Card, paid the standard 23 euros. This (I understand) is the doctor’s wage, there is no salary from the Government. Same day appointment (or wait your turn) and a consultation that takes as long as it needs (instead of 10 minute slots) for 23 euros is worth every centime to me – however, the 85 euros worth of prescriptions I picked up, that would have been free at my age in the UK, was not so funny. Equally, there was no wait at the phlebotomist’s laboratory I was sent to this morning however, a further charge of 35 euros was incurred. In theory this can be claimed back but…….

Once we reach pensionable age in the UK it’s a whole lot cheaper/simpler – but by the time that happens we’ll be out of the EU.

Anyway, I did get a battery for my watch at last and topped up our badly depleted vegetable stocks at the market. G met me in town for a 2 course 12 euro lunch in a buzzy little place with staff that were great fun. I had a glass of wine and G had a beer – the first alcohol to pass our lips in over 3 weeks, and our first meal out since November. It’s not all good times you know – although there are quite a lot of them.

I guess I’d better leave you with some pretty pictures from our mooring at Vaire – or someone I know will moan that there aren’t enough photos on this blog.



Clearly my French accent isn’t improving over the years as Muttley can’t tell my ‘ici’ from my ‘assis’. Every time I call him, he sits; such a pretty sit though.



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