chocolate is good for breafast…when wrapped around some kind of sweet bread…think a danish but more substance.
we had our first taste of rain…very little though and gone by the time we arrived at the north end of the canal start point. it looked like we were the only paying passengers until the moment we boarded and a school bus of french teenagers joined us…believe me-they are universally the same, charming and obnoxious all rolled into one.
for me the canal was fascinating from a mechanical (and aesthetic) view, the locks are only 8 metres wide and frequent. the change in levels is very fast not more than 5 – 10 minutes before the gates open and you’re on your way to the next, sometimes in tight sequence not much more than the length of the barge. the sky cleared as we moved along and by the end we had full sunshine for the rest of the day. as we neared the end we entered a long (2 km) tunnel with frequent shafts of light streaming down, very ethereal.
the canals were mostly built during napoleon’s time (I, II and III) and were a way for business goods hauled on barges to reach paris and beyond during spring flood on the seine. (the flooding did not leave enough clearance under the bridges for the barges to pass.)
we ended at bastille and had a quick lunch of panini and soft drinks before heading for another remarkable innovation – an elevated park! the park runs on an old rail viaduct which runs from place de bastille to saint-mande (about 2 km) lots of bushes, flowers, and joggers and parisiennes enjoying lunch. below are modern shops, mostly artsy but a bit of everything.
we closed the day off with a walk along the promenade between hotel de ville and the showplace bridge connecting napoleon’s mausoleum to the city. along the way we saw the gendearmes make a rescue in the seine from a jumper who did not succeed. they have a ton of cops and boats, quite amazing how efficient they were.
off to school and study with jean (my instructor, a youngish gerard depardieu). tomorrow provins. where’s my wine? merci.
p.s. always travel with rechargeable batteries!!! – it’s costing me about 5 euro per day ($7) for four AA batteries (i actually own one but left it home thinking it would be a hassle! duh!)