In the “coeur d’Ardenne”, the heart of the Ardennes, nestled in a loop of the Meuse, lays the double town Charleville-Mézières. Mézières, being the older one, was once a prosperous city on the Roman cross roads between Reims and Cologne. But today it has been overtaken in significance by Charleville.

To get there was a leisurely 3 and 1/2 hour trip from Sedan. Moorings are along the quay on the river or in the port within a camping and leisure park. To access the port the map warns about the very low 3m high pedestrian bridge. Well, with the roof down and gasping onlookers on the bridge, we just scraped in. 

Walking to the river bank we found the  “Romance” with Bob and Anna from Toul among other barges and boats moored there. Bob warned us that it can get very noisy inside the port with youths bouncing up and down the pontoons.

It was Saturday, school holidays just started here in France, and this weekend was the Fête de la Music, a national day of music, this year coinciding with the summer solstice. As the sun was shining the city was absolutely packed and the cafés and ice-cream parlours made a killing.

Unfortunately it started raining in the evening, and continued on the next morning. We braved the weather to get our Sunday morning baguette. It was also fathers day in Europe and we bumped into a group of people in 30’s attire getting ready for a fathers day cycle and picnic.  

By the time we had breakfast and done our obligatory SMH crossword the weather brightened up.  

Walking from square to square of the inner city we stopped to listen to a variety of bands and music genres from rock to jazz to French chansons, bopping and clapping along with the crowds.

When returning to the central Place Ducale the sun had come out in full force and we enjoyed a glass of “Chimay" while listening to more music. We are not even in Belgium yet and already we are enjoying the Belgian beer! Chimay is brewed in a Trappiste Abbey in Belgium and a big part of the sales profit goes to charities. We were happy to have done our good deed for the day!

Just as we were getting back to the boat in the late evening, the rain started again.

Today the rain has set in and we are watching the water in the port rise with trepidation. A couple of centimetres more and we will be trapped as we won’t fit under the low bridge to get back onto the river. 

On a positive note: whether due to the festival in town or due to the rain, we didn’t have any noisy youth gathering at the port at all. All quiet on the Western Front!

© Austin Robinson 2019