Samois sur Seine sits behind a small island in the Seine. There was just one spot for visitors, in front of a day tour ship and an 18 meter live aboard barge captained by Blue. Or is it Bleu? She’s a character, as we soon learned as she quaffed the chilled white as we sat chatting on the deck. She told us she has a PhD in astrophysics, five masters degrees and teaches French in Charlotte. Seems like an awful lot of training for that position, but more power to her. She has a captain’s license for the huge ships that barge through the locks on the Seine. I am not sure what is going on there, but she is charming and helpful, a lot of fund, and for us that’s what matters.
The town’s center sits atop a cliff so up you must hike steeply some ten minutes, past walls of charming village homes, bought and renovated by well to do Parisians. There’s a very good bakery at the top, and as a plus a trio was playing some jazzy stuff on the main plaza. We at listening at the bar, enjoying some vastly overpriced beer. Our friends had come to find some glucose free items in the town’s only superette. They asked me to find some good wine, which I gladly obliged. Next day they got two more of the same, a St Emillion, a very good one and a Gran Cru even, for a very reasonable price.
By then I’d noticed that one of our four huge batteries was failing- if one in a bank fails, they all have to go. Bleu recommended a couple of places. At the second we found Carlos, who is the captain of the small port in Valvin, recommended by the French boater we met in Nogent sur Seine. Carlos has been taking care of his boat for 30 years. Carlos proved to be a gem. He had the batteries ready to install after retrieving them himself, as his supplier failed to deliver a few days before on a Friday and was non-committal on Monday, which is when he promised to be ready. He complained about the decline in the professionalism of his suppliers.
While we waited for the work to be completed, visited nearby Fontainebleau via bus. Fontainebleau is one of the three main royal palaces, offering a stunning display of wealth.
One of the battery clamps failed. He fixed that after we came by again, although he had offered to come to us. So doing would make him unavailable to others. He let us stay two extra nights without charge, unasked.
The palace was preceded by the medieval castle, both serving as a residence for the kings from Louis VII to Napoleon III. The site was chosen for its spring, from which the palace’s name derives, and the abundance of game.
After a lovely lunch in the town and the trip back to the bus, Carlos completed his work and we resumed our journey. We spent one night at Lock Dommaine sur Lys, six barges snuggled in with us. There is safety in numbers, or so it makes us feel, so we were happy to see them even as they came just a couple of meters of scraping our sides or crushing us against the dock. They are excellent boaters and almost all are friendly. Everyone on the Seine is obliged to monitor channel 10 on the VHF (marine radio). They have almost all answered our calls, asking to pass or for information. You have to check in with the locks before you enter. The chart gives you the VHF channel for the lock. Most of the time our charts have an out of date channel. The barges know the latest.