Our voyage today continued upstream and again we took our time exploring the meanders and backwaters of the Seine, rather than sticking to the main channel. A private ferry at Jeufosse looked like it hadn't been used in living memory. It was a little oversized for the narrow channel, having been brought from Rouen, presumably some years earlier, and if it had been any longer it would have been a bridge. Moorings north of the Grande Ile at Bonnieres sur Seine proved to consist of just a small jetty for ski-boats and the ponton-plaisance had been given over to water lillies. Downstream of the lock we passed the village of La Roche-Guyone, whose 12th century castle clings to the rocky cliffs. Connected to the chateau below by a 100m underground tunnel, it defended the border between Normandy and the Ile de France region.

  • The bac priv had seen better days
  • La Roche Guyon defends the Seine
  • Tour St Maclou overlooks the market square

The lock-keeper at Ecluse Mericourt did his best to misunderstand our limited communication, by insisting that we should go with and not after the 'gros bateau' and then leaving the red lights up just for good measure. Apart from the occasional peniche coming or going, we hadn't seen another boat all day, not even the returning English yacht which we heard about later that evening, returning home after a 20 year circumnavigation.

A large yacht harbour just upstream of the lock looked to have good facilities, but with a 5m bridge over the entrance it would have meant lowering our radar arch and sun canopy, something that we are not inclined to do unless we have to. In any case, we had planned to stop at Marines de Limay, a modest outfit on the opposite bank to Mantes-La-Jolie, where we knew that shore power and water were included in the modest overnight fee. A resident boat obligingly moved up to clear a space on the outer pontoon, rearranging his dock fenders, water supply and electricity cable to allow us in. The harbour master agreed that little had changed since our previous visit, except that his wooden shack had been replaced by a purpose built conservatory-capitainerie, although it was still guarded by the même chien, who was just as large and friendly as we remembered.

The provincial town of Mantes La Jolie is a good place to stop for shopping, especially on a Wednesday or Saturday when the market is in town. Its other attractions are the collegiale church of Notre Dame with its distinctive 30m high nave, and the Tour St Maclou, whose cloisters were once home to a fish market, but now seem to be used as a pissoir.

Dutch Waterways

Inland Waterways of the Netherlands

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Journals of David A Broad

Visit davidabroad.com for my daily journal from 1984 to the present day