It's the first major milestone for Chilaxin and her crew as they reach the French capital

Words & Pictures Heidi Hasler

Day 9

We leave Cergy at 9am with the same difficulty as getting in! At least this time Katy is with us and it’s another pair of hands and eyes. Soon we are back on the Seine, dodging debry again. We keep expecting the river to be busier…

We head through our first lock (of three) for the day, a bit of a baptism of fire for Katy. All good though and we head onwards. There are so many beautiful house boats along the river banks. The scenery changes from countryside to urban and then to the high rise mega-buildings!

We hit the next lock just before entering Paris. This is a horrid lock. We get through, with one other small boat in the lock, and off we go – Paris awaits!

How amazing to be traveling in our little 33ft boat, with three souls on board, into the centre of Paris with the Eiffel Tower to your right, Notre Dame on your left and so many amazing bridges and buildings. Finally, the last lock into canal Saint Martin and to the Port De L’Arsenal.

This is harder work than you imagine – we have been going eight hours before this lock, which is a small one that will hold three or four small boats. We are further back in the queue, so we need to hang back in the busy Seine channel.

Enroute to Paris

This goes on for 30 minutes. There is a boat waiting with us and its occupants have clearly been drinking and have no clue how to maneuver their boat, made clear when they hit the fuel quay. Eventually we get into the lock and the drunks follow us in so we ignore the lock and protect the boat – just as well!

Ten minutes later we have a VHF call to Chilaxin stating that our berth is just before the iron bridge. We start looking, in a very busy marina, find our berth and the very friendly neighbours help us into our berth and home for the next three nights.

I head off to the Capitanaire to check-in and sort the documents. We now have codes for showers and washing machines. Brise, in the office, is very helpful and has excellent English – unlike my French – although it is improving and I can fill out any form with ease now. Captain Kev has cooked dinner tonight for us girls, whilst we have sorted everything else out on the boat. Tomorrow is adventure day around Paris.

Day 10

We set a plan to go to the Eiffel Tower first as this is going to get busy. We get the Metro, which is right at the end of Port de L’Arsenal, just above the tunnel entrance to Canal Saint Martin. It’s very convenient and we purchase three tickets for a grand total of €5.70 and 30 minutes later we are in sight of the tower.

We decide to have a coffee before heading over. We stop at a lovely café which has unspoiled views of the tower and have a tea, coffee and pastries for €7 – perfect! Well not quite so perfect… we are now in massive queues to get into the tower!

You go through airport-type security and then we think “great, now we just need to get a ticket and head on up”. If we queue up now, it transpires, we will start the assent in about two hours! We take a couple of photos and plan to come back tonight when the crowds have died down to see Paris at night!

Getting up the Eiffel Tower proved tricky

It’s now lunchtime. We decide to have panini and chips under the tower (€13 for a meal deal – not as bad as I thought it would be and quite nice!) Whilst devouring our goodies, we plan which attraction to go and see but there are so many to chose from!

We hop back on the Metro and head to the Louvre, then the Grand Palace. It’s 30 degrees and beautiful sunshine, the perfect excuse for an ice cream from a street vendor.

Rather than get the bus or another train, we walk along the Seine – a slightly different route to the one we took in the boat (it splits in places with islands in the middle). I’m glad that we did walk as we saw so much on the banks of the river with people having picnics, café’s, buskers, restaurants, cookery schools, purpose built play areas and activity centres for children and families to use.

The footpaths are full of people walking, meeting, roller skating and making full use of the open space. It’s a shame that, back in the UK, we seem to have lost all of this community space, most of the good areas are being built on.

The River Seine itself is quite a dirty river, there is masses of rubbish and lots of debris like logs and plastic in the water. This does not put people off and the banks, where people walk, are really clean and well maintained.

We get back to the marina, really impressed with the Parisian culture, and get excited at the thought of heading back out tonight to see more of the city and celebrate Katy’s birthday.

Port de L’Arsenal is brilliantly located

We all have showers in the impressive marina facilities. The blocks are built into the marina walls with very nice large showers and they are kept very clean and tidy. There are toilets, washing machines and tumble dryers all in the same area with no separate ladies/gents.

We dress to impress (can’t be seen looking shabby in Paris), get an Uber (us girls are in high heels) and head to the Latin Quarter.

We stop in a bar called Monk – Taverne de Cluny and have cocktails to start us off. It’s a lovely Jazz bar and with some nice tunes playing, sitting and watching the world go by, loving the Parisian night life we decide to have another drink.

Out of the corner of my eye I see movement on the floor. I look down and see a little mouse scuttling around! It’s like something out of Ratatouille with the French music and him moving to the perfect beat. It had me in stitches!

We carry on up the road and find a bar on the corner, with a very friendly waiter from Slovenia, who introduces us to the next table (bit odd but quite funny). He does this to every table as they sit down and we end up having a great chat with an American couple that have been in France for a couple of weeks.

Enjoying the Parisian nightlife

Although odd being introduced to other tables, it does mean that you end up chatting to some really nice people from various backgrounds. Danish, American, Canadian, and French, we are all still talking when the bar closes at 1:30am!

We head back to the boat a little worse for wear but what a fabulous evening! And yes, I know, we never made it back to the Eiffel Tower! That will have to wait until our next visit. We have heard that you need to queue at least an hour before they open to get a chance of not having to get in line for a very long time! BLOG CONTINUES BELOW…

Day 11

This morning, Katy has headed back to the airport and home to Exeter. The weather today is very muggy and cloudy. We are hoping for thunderstorm tonight as the air needs to clear as it is getting a little unbearable at night. We have a hatch in the cabin but the sunpad on the C330 completely covers it, which is no good in an emergency I would just like to add. It’s okay if it’s just the two of us, we can put the sun cushions on the spare bed but when that’s in use there is nowhere to store them.

I take the opportunity to clean the inside of the boat a bit while Kev tops up the water tanks and we get some admin work done as well. Wi-Fi in Paris is absolutely dire and we are getting through our data credit rapidly. Not a good thing, but we will work it out eventually. We head out for a bit of a mooch around Bastile, which is where the marina is based.

The Seabubble, sadly not authorised for the French waterways

As we walk to the other end of the marina, we spot some really odd boats. We head over, being totally nosey, and find out that what we are looking at is a Seabubble. This is a totally electric, bubble-type hydrofoil which was designed to be used in Paris as a personal water taxi.

Unfortunately Paris council have not given permission for these to be used on the waterways, which is a great shame as they are totally awesome! They get up on the plane at 7 knots and will do a total of 15 knots. You would think, in a city where diesel fuel for boats is not available, that encouraging electric would be a good thing.

If you want to come to Paris in your own boat (which I would highly recommend) here are a few tips:

 

  • There are no height issues coming from Le Havre to Paris (unless you are a sailing yacht)
  • Plan your fuel stops carefully if you are in a motorboat and call ahead to the marinas to check that they do actually have fuel available
  • Book your marinas well in advance as they are busy all year round
  • There are a few locks. A plank is always helpful to hold your fenders against the walls, not to protect your fenders but some of the walls are concertinaed and your fenders disappear, making your boat a little vulnerable
  • Keep your camera at the ready for the amazing places that you are going to see on route
  • Watch out for debris