These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

1st - 9th June 2016. On the Canal de L'Ourcq

Our first mooring on the canal de L'Ourcq was overshadowed by this large mural. We were still in the outskirts of Paris, but the weather was so wet that any potential troublemakers were not to be seen outside. The canal soon narrows to that of an English narrow canal, and has a depth of 0.8 metres. This is fine for us, but stops all wider and deeper boats from using this delightful canal.

So far there has been a good towpath all the way along this canal.
We stopped in Claye-Souilly for a couple of days. This is a delightful little town with all facilities. This work boat is the first other craft that we have seen, since leaving Paris.

Even the insects have a fancy hotel here!

On the way out of town, this clever mural was painted on two sides of the small building, with the join being difficult to spot.
All along the canal de L'Ourcq, there are avenues of trees. These are newly planted hornbeams along by the canal. The towpath continues to be excellent.
At Fresnes there are bollards all along this bank, with a small area strimmed round each one, for ease of use. As we seem to be the only boat on the whole canal, we appreciate this.

Two coypu on the opposite bank fascinated Shannon. We watched them grazing for ages.
One couple told us that they have walked along the canal daily for the last six years, and we are the first boat, apart from the work boat, that they have seen here. At the Ecluse de Fresnes, the lock was rather slow to work. We have our own key, so this is no problem. However, the man from the lock cottage came straight out to see that all was well for us, which was reassuring.

Shannon and I have walked along the towpath on most mornings.

We have a good view over the Marne valley, as this is a contour canal. We are well above the villages.

The town of Meaux can be visited from both the canal de L'Ourcq and the river Marne. There is still a lot of water in the Marne. Despite it being Sunday, the cathedral was very closed.
We followed the canal for ten kilometres as it meandered around Meaux. These swans paddled for ages in front of us, before deciding to take off and leave us.
This canal was dug by Russian prisoners of war in the time of Napoleon. It was built both as a water supply for Paris, and also to transport the grain of this region to Paris. Arable farming is still very important here, and the canal still carries non-potable water into Paris. Because of this there is a steady flow of water down the canal.

Just round the corner at Poincy, we moored above this wonderful garden.

The 76 year old owner invited us to come and look round, and we were certainly impressed by it. The Puzzler can just be seen, arrowed, on the canal up above the garden.

As it was a very hot day, Shannon found a cool muddy puddle, created by the immense thunder storm last night.
We have come through Varreddes lock, the only completely manual lock on this canal. It is the only original lock which remains. There are two parallel locks, but now only one is in use. We are stuck here until Friday, as there are some fallen trees further on, which will be cleared then. Our own waterways man is keeping us informed!

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