Sailing Into Paris

16-May – 17-May-2017

We sailed into Paris in the early evening on May 16th.  Our guide book had George prepared for the worst with descriptions of where boats must pass under a myriad number of bridges, traffic lights that regulate the right of way, and a waterway full of cruisers, sight-seeing tour boats and working barges.  All this, and being sure not to miss the sights of Paris from your own boat, seemed a bit intimidating.  In actuality, we arrived at the marina we would stay at, unscathed and pleasantly surprised that the trip  went so smoothly.

The Seine passes right through the heart of Paris.  Right past the Eiffel Tour.   

Right past France’s Statue of Liberty.  You may recall that France gave the U.S. our Statue of Liberty in 1883.  The U.S. gave France a smaller version of the statue in 1886.

We did pass under a myriad number of bridges (38 in fact).     

And right past Notre Dame Cathedral.  Did you know there are many Notre Dame Cathedrals?  Notre Dame translates to “Our Lady” and I am not exaggerating when I say, to date, we have visited more towns, villages, and cities in France that have a Notre Dame Cathedral.

We stayed in Paris at the Port D’Arsenal de Paris marina for the incredible low price of 40 Euro per day including water, electricity, and showers.  We met the 2nd and 3rd couple who indicated they had set out on a 2 year cruise, 10+ years ago, and hadn’t yet finished.  These and other veteran sailors we have met, have been all over the world, some in the same boat, others in multiple boats they keep in different areas of the world.   Commonly, they have favorite spots they visit regularly and the Port D’Arsenal appears to be one such place.  This enables  these “nomads” to reconnect with friends they have met on the water and share years of past experiences with.

Ice Floe in Port D’Arsenal

Speaking of old friends with shared experience, we met up with Nancy and Bruce the day after we entered Paris (May 17th).  Nancy and Bruce were visiting Switzerland and took a train to Paris to spend a week with us.

We visited Versailles on our first day together.  George and I spent the day within the Versailles gardens.  They were as spectacular  as when we visited them in January, but our imaginings of the gardens all abloom with flowers was a fantasy,  as the gardens remained flowerless.  The gardens year-round are an amazing display of shrubs and trees laid out in a strict geometric pattern with extensive topiary sculptures.  

Nancy and Bruce spent some time in the gardens and also toured the pallace.  When I asked Nancy to describe the interior of the palace I believe what she said was “disgusting”, referring to its opulence and inexcusable use of the country’s wealth in the midst of the squalor of the majority of citizens.   

The first structure of what encompasses the Palace of Versailles was initially built by King Louis VIII in the 1620s as a hunting lodge.  The grand expansion was undertaken by King Louis XIV later in the 17th century.  He subsequently moved the royal court from Paris to Versailles which remained there for the duration of his reign and that of Louis XV until shortly after the beginning of the French Revolution (1789) that resulted in the fall of the Monarchy.  Some of the castle’s splendor has been lost to history including a silver balustrade that contained a ton of silver.  This, along with all the silver in the castle was melted down to fund a war between France and a coalition of  European allies during Louis XIV’s reign.

The picture on the left is a room within the Palace named the Hall of Mirrors. The mirrors were made by Venice artisans whose execution was ordered in consequence by the Venice authorities, as Venice, at the time, held the secrets to making mirrors.

The picture on the left is a room within the Palace named the Hall of Mirrors. The mirrors were made by Venice artisans whose execution was ordered in consequence by the Venice authorities, as Venice, at the time, held the secrets to making mirrors.

More of our adventures with Nancy and Bruce in our next update. 

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