Our Barge, Odysseus

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Down the a Marne June 16-19

And rain it did! It began Sunday afternoon and progressed to the thunder-and-lightning stage by the evening. It stopped later that night but started up again around 7 Monday morning and didn't let up until shortly after noon. By now the river was full of debris washed out of the fields and flowing faster. Tuesday turned out better so we set off. Our first lock of the day, just a couple of kilometers down the river, was staffed by a VNF lockkeeper who provided a "telecommand," a new remote control for the locks. He told us that the river was closed to navigation, and would be for a couple of days, between two locks about 55 kilometers downriver. Trees had fallen into the river and there was so much debris it would take that long to clean things out. Luckily, it would take us a couple of days to get that far so we didn't figure it would hold us up, although we would have to be careful traveling so we wouldn't get junk in the boat's propellor.

Tuesday night we stopped in the town of Dorman, a nice little village but unfortunately the tie up was just across the river from the railroad tracks and it was pretty noisy. Dorman also features heavily in World War I history as one of the principal locations of the Battles of the Marne, the first in 1914 and the second in 1918. Hundreds of thousand died in old-style warfare; practically no ground was gained. After the war, a memorial was built above the town. Money was raised from the citizens of France and the land was donated by Marshall Foch.

Climbing up the tower allows a panoramic view of the Valley of the Marne

The next night found us in Chateau Thierry, most notable for a giant ruined chateau/fort above town and a large grocery store with gas station located close to the tie up. Fuel docks are few and far between in France so fuel has to be carried by jug to the boat and the cupboards were looking a little bare so a big shopping was called for.

As promised, VNF had cleaned up the canal so two days later found us in the beautiful municipal tie up in the village of La Ferte sous Jouarre.; power and water provided for free. This weekend is the solstice and all over France that calls for the "Fete de Musique." Every town in France will have some kind of free music and Ferte is no exception. Let the fete begin!

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