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
  • Meta

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.



10 Responses to “Interesting mooring (or not) and observations on the French medical system”

  1. suenp said

    Jill you have destroyed me tonight… I am so weak with laughter I really have to go to bed!!!! FFS


  2. andywindy said

    I think it’s very considerate of the French to save you from the trauma of having your property vandalised by removing the Ganway from the pontoon, after all it saves them the costs of having the incidents investigated, discussed over long lunch breaks, put on the back burner and then finally agreeing to meet you and telling you there is nothing they can do (whilst giving the impression that you are, after all, only a foreigner, now if you happened to be French…)! (Cynical, Moi?)

    And I don’t nag about any lack of photos, that’s Kevins job, I just nag when there’s nothing to see at all!

    Anyway on to the photos, Francoise is looking very elegant as usual but did those Swans just happen to be feeding by Her Bow, or is Graham behind that tree chucking bits of food at them?
    I see you’ve managed to capture a photo of the extremely rare and seldom picture Jesus Geese! So named for their inate ability to walk on water, presumably due to their light weight in re-incarnation as their over stuffed and bloated livers were removed to be ground up and covered in chocolate?.

    Lovely pics of the cold weather Jill, and as for Muttley not understanding your French accent, I think you’ll find he understands all too well and is now totally confused as to why, when you speak to him in French, you get upset when he responds in such a French manner! (It ain’t easy for him to do a visible shoulder shrug, so sitting down is as close as he can get from that distance.)

    See I hav’nt emigrated, me and Kevin Too are left to hold on to the shreds of (in)sanity whilst you Girls drag your Husbands round the waterways!

    p.s. Do you know of a good spullchequer for WordPress? It gets boring having to retype half of these Commentz at times!


    • You know French bureaucracy so well!

      Surrounded by birds here although I never see anyone feeding them – noisy buggers too; especially in the mornings. A Muttley Gaelic shrug will be quite something once he has perfected it. Yes, both Vic and Graham are screaming and kicking as we drag them – not.

      Confused (a fairly perpetual state for me) about WordPress spell checker – can’t you just right click?

      Do you think Kevin Too’s ears are burning?

      Liked by 1 person

      • andywindy said

        The built in spell check works when I’m posting a blog, but not when I’m commenting using the AOL browser! (It wont let me post a Blog in AOL either, have to use Chrome or my phones (but they’re Android so Google anyway.) iff ise tryed to spull cheque now itll ignour the rit buttom… Yes thought so! and I’ve been using this Email name for too many Years to change to another one now!


  3. vallypee said

    Oh Jill, I had such a giggle over this post. I’m so sorry you’ve been unwell and had to see a doctor, but your post really was wonderfully entertaining! I love Muttley’s ici/assis confusion, but at least he sits on his ass-is! Hoping you feel better now and are keeping warm and dry! Xx


    • I’m glad I made you giggle too – I’ve just been reading your blog about the mishaps with the timed light switches. I had a similar experience with a near vertical spiral staircase (just tapered slats stuck round a pole) without a hand rail, on my way to the loo in a restaurant – plunged into pitch black. I just gave way to panic and screamed blue murder until someone came to my rescue and hit the light switch again at the bottom – I was totally traumatised.

      Liked by 1 person

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