Over the last few days it has been raining off and on. So we had time for writing emails, paying bills and some local fairy tales. 

Already in Douai we learned that a legendary family of giants, Mr. and Mrs. Gayant and their offspring protect the town since the early 1500th century. Every year in July huge "M and Mme Gayant” dolls in their original attire are carried through town in a long procession. This is not an easy task. Mr. Gayant weighs 370kg and it takes 6 men to carry him, 5 to carry his slightly lighter wife, and one man each to carry their three children. 

The town Cambrai has their own pair of giants, called Martin and Martine, guarding the town from the heights of the town hall and having the additional job of chiming the bells of the belfry tower.

The lone giant with the funny name of “ Jean Tout le Monde” belongs to Chauny. He is a cowherd and is often seen in a cowboy outfit.

I thought it was interesting that in this area of France giants are seen as guardians and not as aggressors.

In Chauny we also stumbled upon three monkeys. Sculptured of various materials they were gracing buildings and nature strips. We wondered about their significance. Apparently there are diverse monkey legends in existence. But one explanation might simply be a mis-spelling of the word “cyngnes” meaning swans, which used to inhabit the waters around Chauny in great numbers, to  “singes” meaning monkeys. Nevertheless, the monkeys have become the emblem of the town.

Today Chauny is a pleasant and clean town. Some good restaurants can also be found. I had a delicious dessert there: panacotta with a salty caramel topping - well worth the calories!

The port of Chauny is close to the centre of town and has all the services including Wifi and laundry facilities. Bus No 1 took us to a big Intermarché 15 minutes away.

We found Chauny a good stop before turning into the Canal de l'Oise á Aisne.

While other canals in France suffer from water shortage, here was no sign of it. As a matter of fact, water levels were quite high, so we had to pull our sun roof down for almost every bridges. But, as Austin puts it, we have become “a well oiled machine”, and the roof comes down and goes up in one swoop.

There is no industry and hardly any buildings to be seen on the Canal de l’Oise, just natural forest crowding in and tree branches overhanging the banks. All very “Deliverance”, as Roy from the Uk put it. Roy and Fiona, on the way to the Med on their beautiful yacht “Lacewing" are two of the very few people we met cruising since leaving Belgium. We rarely passed other boats!

Good ports were also few and far between. Not all moorings advertised in the VNF books delivered what they promised. Some had been abandoned altogether. We shared a few locks with Fiona and Roy and finally arrived at Pargny-Filain. Unfortunately the existing pontoon and electricity supply had already been taken up by two barges, but we were able to moor along the bank overlooking a watershed turned into a lake with a perfect sand beach. 

We had a fun night with Fiona and Roy and the obligatory safe arrival drinks.

© Austin Robinson 2019