Canal cruising... but not on the Seine.
We started moving a bit late today given the late bedtime last night at around 1am. The plans for today was first to catch up with Lise for lunch or coffee and cake before we would take our canal and lock cruise from 2.30pm.
A couple of more pics from our studio apartment. This is the breakfast nook. Not much space, but it works.
And looking out of the studio with the breakfast nook to the right.
Before we could get moving, there was some shopping to do. As is mostly the norm in Europe, grocery stores are closed on Sunday and we needed some supplies.
Di wanted to utilise our local butcher and get some good meat so we started off there. Despite the butcher not speaking English she managed to get some excellent veal for Italian style saltimbocca tonight.
Hans hung around outside for some photography. Here is the street where the butcher resided with the long name of Rue du Fauburg du Temple.
Paris "street" art... OK, we took this pic on the way to the butcher.
Opposite the butcher is an empty lot, well empty apart from some "artistry".
Just a little bit more...
The butcher was followed by a visit to the supermarket which meant that we were not on our way towards Lise until 11.30am or so. We decided to walk and here is how that panned out.
Di rang the buzzer outside Lise and Greg's place.
Lise of course wondered what took us so long. Well, apart from not getting our shit together, we found out that our Lycamobile call credits were no more, and even after purchasing another €5 worth of calls, we had no immediate way to load those credits onto the phone.
Di tried to call Lycamobile customer service from Lise's place, but the weekend's B-team there could not assist. We could possibly load the credit from the net, or if that fails, we would need to buy a new French SIM card which is fine apart from that we will get yet another phone number. For later...
For now, Lise took us to a corner bistro at the other end of her street where we all had some refreshments. Di had a cheese platter of sorts with a glass of rose wine and Lise had a Vietnamese style salad.
Still not being very hungry after last night's huge meal and late breakfast, Hans had this cute little setup called "Cafe Gourmant" after Lise said that it is a very popular combo among the French. Very good apart from that he may order a double espresso next time instead of a single one.
Time went too quickly and our time in the bistro was a bit rushed (all our fault). Lise followed us down to Port de l'Arsenal next to the Bastille from where our cruise would depart. She soon left us, for now, until she joins us for dinner later in our apartment tonight (Greg was working a 24 hour shift at the hospital and was in our thoughts).
Our boat waiting to be filled up...
Yep, there was a long queue as quite a few of the punters seemed to belong to the same tour group. Nothing happened for a while, then everything moved at once.
We got onboard and found seats on the upper deck (lower deck was enclosed and very warm, clearly designed for the elderly). The Bastille in the background and yes, we will start the cruise by going underground.
A "selfie" before departure.
Off we went into the underbelly of Paris so to say. Not much headroom as they warned us about, and Hans got a bit paranoid of standing up / hitting his head.
The canal, called a Vault, goes just under Place de la Bastille and you can see up towards the crypt from underneath. The crypt holds the bodies of 504 victims from 1830 and forms the base of the column you saw earlier.
Action photo of sorts...
And yes, there was indeed light at the end of the tunnel...
And we're out!
A fantastic experience and a whole different side of Paris. Now into the Canal St Martin and the lock systems. Due to the significant climb each lock is a double, so really 8 locks to reach Bassin de la Villette.
For those regular followers of our blog you may recall we loved the canals and locks of Ottawa, Loch Ness, Amsterdam and some other cities. Yep, we got excited by the sluices opening and our boat bobbing up like a cork.
This section is literally at the end of Rue Alibert where we are staying.
The final autumn colours had Di back to saying "beautiful" on a regular basis.
And another "selfie" of course...
The bridge swung into action...
And another lock... And so on, and so on...
The lower deck and inside was where all the fair weather people sat... Including ourselves at times. Hey, it got nippy outside on the upper deck after a while...
Di in the foreground with local Paris bums in the background.
We have noticed that the bums' preferred choice of beer seems to be Heineken. Quite a difference compared to Australia where cheap wine casks would probably take that position.
As we proceeded along the canal St Martin, we noticed people doing various activities along the canal. In one location there were some seriously strong, lean guys doing pull ups and push ups, all in one, on a 2 metre high bar. Poseurs for the canal boat crowd?
Here a few trendies (hipsters?) were playing table tennis and they were in fact pretty good at it. We also saw outdoors ping pong tables in Germany.
At Bassin de la Villette, the canal widened to become this lovely open square of water and here it is 25 meters above the level of Seine. Looked nice, with plenty of people around the edges this Saturday afternoon. Another "selfie"...
Dusk had started to arrive after 4.30pm which gave great light to the canal.
There were even rowers out there having a splash...
The Crimea Lift Bridge in front here was temporarily closed(?) so our canal boat didn't go any further and had to turn around here.
Note what type of coffee they serve here to the right, not great, not even good, but okay coffee. Or does that just apply to the cafe itself?
Same spot as above, but looking back to where we came from. Full credit to the rowing coach standing in his little rubber boat and instructing a pair of rowers.
Our final port, Quai de Loire, where we finished our cruise and departed the boat.
In summary, a very great and different Paris experience, in particular being underground for quite a while. Di gave it 5 stars on TripAdvisor.
From Quai de Loire we walked back home, after checking out metro plans and routes, and realizing that walking would be quicker - first walking south on Boulevard de la Villette and then Avenue Claude Velleaux around Hopital Saint-Louis. The map showed this would take us within spitting distance of Rue Aliberte, where we are staying, so that's what we did.
Di soon started to prepare for our dinner and Lise arrived just after 7pm as discussed. What we found out later was that for a short while Lise was left standing outside on our street in the cold as it turned out the codes for entry through gates and doors which were provided by our hosts had changed! Sorry Lise.
A nice Italian meal, followed by French pastries from Lise, plenty of chatting and laughing, and a bit more wine before Lise left us around 9.30pm to go and see a movie with a girlfriend of hers at 10pm. A lovely evening.
Another pleasant day in Paris and thankfully not so late as yesterday and now it is good night from Paris.