Mid morning on the day of Kate’s departure, Fi and John (Elsie) cruised by and after recognising us, turned around for a quick natter before continuing up to the River Oise. They were on a tight schedule and needed to be back in England, with barge, for a wedding early in September.
After dropping Kate to the RER station at Reuil-Malmaison for her return trip, we set off towards Conflans-Sainte-Honorine where we hoped to find a suitable mooring for the night. What a busy port – full of commercial barges moored three and four abreast, but alas no space for us.
En route to Conflans we are passed by a Pusher, not so streamlined without a barge in front.
We turned right onto the River Oise which would take us northeast and after about 9km stopped on the high quay just upstream of the trendy Port de Cergy. Cergy itself is a new town (1970s) complete with a university and the part near the river is very popular with young professional people.
Taking advantage of the RER (regional railway) in Cergy, (according to the port map and our Navicarte guide only a 5 minute walk away)- I set off to get the car from Criossy-sur-Seine. Now I am a fairly quick walker, and it was hot, but that station was more like 20 minutes away! To add insult to injury, my train stopped for ‘quelques instants’…….’quelques fois’ and the journey took far longer than it should have. The air around me was blue after three hot trains and another 20 minute walk to the car.
Janett (our sat nav) assured me that the drive to Cergy would take about half an hour and with supreme faith in technology I set off. Horror………. after twenty minutes, Janett lost satellite coverage for the first time in our relationship, and I was left to find my way unassisted. Fortunately, on reaching Cergy, we crossed the river and I spotted ‘Aurigny’ moored on my left and was soon relaxing with a large glass of rose wine and recounting my tale.
With a welcome spot of rain the next morning, we decided to do a recce of moorings on the River Oise and combine it with a trip to Decathlon for some new fishing tackle. We drove up the worst road in France to Pontoise, relieved not to have burst a tyre. On the pontoon there we found Fi and John and stopped for coffee and a chat before resuming our recce.
Twenty minutes later we drove into L’Isle Adam, a lovely town with a pontoon and nearby ‘plage’ complete with swimming pools and all manner of sports activities. We had marked this down as a possible spot to meet our son Adam and my dad for their week’s holiday with us.
Another drive to two ‘Decathlons’ and Peter was like a child in a toyshop. We left over an hour later with two new carp rods and reels, hooks, weights, rod tripod and scales. Our food shop had to wait as I had the urge for steak frites and fortunately we found a ‘Buffalo Grill’ opposite Leclercs and had a surprisingly nice lunch there.
With the weather a breezy 25C, we left Cergy and cruised to L’Isle Adam. After a bit of manoeuvring we moored on the passenger dolphins, as the public pontoon was still occupied. This was not the most user-friendly of moorings, requiring one to jump over a gap and climb over the locked gate, but it would do for now. The river is narrow here as it splits to go around an island and the commercial traffic takes no prisoners. Amazingly the nearby ‘Plage’ lets people take pedalos out onto the main river to dodge the fast moving commercial barges !
Up to the gunnels, pedalos beware !
Using one of my leftover metro tickets, I was able to take an hour’s bus journey back to Cergy to collect the Micra, a less harrowing trip than the previous one had been.
L’Isle Adam has a real holiday atmosphere, and we were pleased when the pontoon became free the next day and we were able to move onto it as it would be much easier to get on and off the barge there. The town was celebrating its ‘Impressionist’ connections with a display of prints in a nearby park and the market was in full swing.
The weather remained a comfortable 25C during the day and we were surprised to have to wear jumpers in the evening while dining on deck and listening to a singer in the adjacent riverside restaurant.
Adam and Dad arrived early evening on Saturday 10th August and the new rods were soon out on deck being put to good use. Shortly afterwards a lady from the Tourist Information Office turned up with the strange request that we move back to the passenger mooring by ‘midi’ on Sunday to make way for the passenger boat which needed the lower public pontoon(!?) Peter was not pleased, but we agreed to do so as long as she unlocked the gate of the passenger mooring for us.
Adam and Ronald enjoying a Pimms at L’Isle Adam.
Had to be done !
After moving back to the passenger dolphins on Sunday morning we were joined by Elisabeth and Alister on their steel cruiser who also hoped to stop there for a day or two. By 5.30pm the passenger boat had finished for the day and we were able to slip back up to the public pontoon once again accompanied by a friendly ‘merci’ from the rather attractive female president of the Tourist Office – evidently she had been informed of Peter’s displeasure…
We all liked L’Isle Adam very much, although the fishing wasn’t great. Peter and Adam decided to drive both cars up to Creil and caught a train back so we could leave the next morning.
Our next stop was Beaumont-sur-Oise, where we found the best breakfast pastries and croissants in France to date. A really good boulangerie, winner of a national award in 2012. Suitably ‘carbed up’ we had a long cruise, deciding against stopping in Creil where the cars were. At Pont-Sainte-Maxence, we explored the weir stream in the hope of finding the old disused lock, but alas it had been turned into a barrage. So we turned around and moored up on the town quay instead. Dad and I enjoyed a walk into town and at last, Adam and Peter had some luck – catching a Barbel each.
Massive barge but still able to go faster than us.
Pont-Sainte-Maxence. Time for relaxing – chess and fishing !
Later that evening, two fine Barbel.
The river continued to be busy with commercial barges and only a few pleasure boats and our next stop was below the lock and new barrage (2011) in the weir stream at Compiegne. This proved to be a good choice as on further examination the town quay was too rocky and shallow for us. It was here that Peter caught a massive Barbel…that he forgot to weigh with his newly purchased scales!
So excited about the size I completely forgot the new scales !
We decided to stay two days at Compiegne as we needed to collect the cars form Creil and Peter had to repair the bow thruster cable which had come adrift. These tasks achieved, Adam and Peter relaxed while Dad and I drove to the old part of town and enjoyed a short walk, ending up in the tea rooms in the gardens of the splendid Palais Imperiale. Here we sat inside and ordered two different Indian teas. To our surprise the waitress appeared carrying two huge teapots. Fortunately the tea was delicious and we were rather thirsty, so in true English fashion we almost finished the lot!
The Palais Imperiale.
Tea for two?
Back on board, we relaxed while Adam and Peter drove further upstream to recce our next stop. It was another lovely evening to sit up top.
There is a fuel barge just above Venette lock and we decided to stop off for 1000L of white and 500L of red diesel. Our recent ‘fuel-ups’ had been done laboriously by jerry can and several car trips to local fuel stations. We arrived just as another boat left and were soon filling up. Our timing couldn’t have been better as two commercial barges arrived and had to wait.
Unfortunately, the fuel pump malfunctioned and we ended up sandwiched between a tandem (double length) barge, the fuel barge and another barge in front. Our quick stop had taken over an hour by the time we paid our bill, but it had been an interesting experience and we were able to top up with water as well.
A barge sandwich.
“Just a ton and a half of fuel and can you clean the windscreen and check under the bonnet?”
Soon afterwards, we left the River Oise and joined the Canal Lateral a l’Oise, stopping at Thourotte, just over a km above the lock. After lunch, Adam drove Dad and I back to the Micra and we then drove to the Clairiere de l’Armistice where the Armistice was signed at the end of World War I. (11/11/1918)
This is well worth a visit as the clearing shows where the famous railway carriages stood and the museum houses lots of interesting artefacts, as well as a replica of the railway carriage used by Marshall Foch for the signing.
Back onboard we all relaxed and watched a couple of films. It had been another great week on ‘Aurigny’ shared with family and at 1pm the next day Adam and Dad left for the drive back to Calais.