River Oise and the Canal du Nord

Shortly after leaving Paris the river Oise flows into the Seine. Near the confluence of the rivers hundreds of barges are lining the banks. Since the 19th century, when the rivers were canalised, this is an international meeting place for bargees.

Our first stop was Port de Clergy, a harbour surrounded by restaurants and modern unit blocks. Being a weekday evening the harbour seemed quite cosmopolitan with its crowded bars and restaurants, however the village itself was disappointingly unattractive and plain. 

With plans to winterise in Holland and organise some much needed work on the boot, we realised we had to put in some long cruising days. So we travelled almost all day with Peter getting a crash course of rope work, from managing to lasso bollards and lowering fenders to the diverse mooring technics. As we travelled up the Canal du Nord, the locks got deeper and longer and changed to what I call “guillotine -gates", heavy metal lock doors moving upwards.

After passing Compiègne we turned into the small port of Pont-l’Évêque. As unassuming as this place seems, history was made when in 1430 Jean of Arc forced her way through to the Oise to rescue the town of Choisy sur Aisne from the occupation by the English.

As we were relaxing after a hard day on the water, a small warfare was going on beside us: water jousting between two local clubs. 

On our early morning walk Austin had his eyes on a couple of “Paris Brests”. These delicious fluffy choux pastries in spite of their appearance have actually nothing to do with “breasts”. They became a popular desert in the 19th century during the Paris to Brest cycle races. So adding a couple of other French pastries we had a yummy morning tea.

At our next stop the port de plaisance was closed, but there were boats moored along a nearby quay, among others the barge “Friesland" with Stephen, Kim and Dash on board plus a few “extras". They seemed to be quite ahead of us in the “safe -arrival- drink" department and made a very merry group. So Marcia and I sent Austin and Peter off to cycle to the nearest Lidl for more liquid and a few solid supplies. As the two restaurants in town were both closed, a quick spaghetti bolognese had to do.

At night Marcia had an adverse reaction to the combination of gin and garlic, and we don’t know quite what happened, except of things went flying in the room and Peters ribcage was badly bruised???

All recovered the next morning, Peter proved an excellent deckhand scrubbing the boat, after Austin showed him how it is done (for 3 seconds!). As a reward and for wearing a sea eagles singlet, Austin let Peter take over the helm. Go the Eagles!

The Ruyaultcourt Tunnel provide to be a walk in the park for captain Austin. 

© Austin Robinson 2019