My Travel Blog

A Whole New Side Of Fontainebleau

With Lisa’s niece Heather and family aboard we wanted to make sure her kids were kept busy. Unfortunately we were in the middle of an unusually hot heat wave.  One day it went up to 109, and with the high humidity it felt like 114. At least on the day Heather and family arrived the Loire River was right next to the canal. Heather’s kids Jaida and Hayden went swimming in the river.

The next day we continued down the canal to Montargis.  We had hoped to stop there for the night, but the only available mooring was in an industrial area so we continue on. Of course Lisa had to stop at her favorite boulangerie in all of France. We dropped off Lisa, Heather, and the kids at the first lock in Montargis, and off they went to pick up some baguettes and sweets while Kevin and I continued on. Winding our way through the city proved to be a challenge, as some of the turns were amazingly tight. Just as we entered one of the tightest turns I got a call on the radio from a commercial barge heading towards us. We completed the turn and stopped just before a bridge.  We pulled over to the bank, and allowed the barge to pass. Things got a little tense while we were maneuvering next to a fully loaded barge, but in the end everything worked out well. Lisa, Heather, and kids were waiting for us at the last turn with overflowing bags of fresh baked breads and pastries.

Jaida swimming in the Loire.

Passing a commercial barge in tight quarters.

Heather and Jaida at Lisa’s favorite boulangerie.

The best baguettes in the whole world coming out of the oven.

The next day was still hot, but at least the temperature was only in the high 90’s.  Heather and Jaida wanted to see Fontainebleau, so off we drove leaving Heather’s husband Jon and son Hayden on Rabelo. Rather than taking a tour of the castle, Lisa and I explored the grounds around Fontainebleau.  We found an area we had never seen with beautiful trees, bridges, and walks. More important, we also found a nice street café where we ordered a few beers.

Some of the beautiful pathways around Fontainebleau.

A hidden pond next to Fontainebleau.

A cold beer on a hot day in Fontainebleau.

When we woke up the next morning Heather said that Hayden had been suffering from severe stomach pains all night. She thought he might need to see a doctor.  Heather and Lisa hustled Hayden into the car, and headed to the hospital while Jon, Jaida and I stayed on Rabelo.  Around one that afternoon we started to get hungry.  Without the women around to make us lunch we were beginning to think we might starve to death.  Fortunately we had a second car and were able to find an open restaurant. Just as we were finishing lunch Jon pulled out his phone and began playing with it.  I asked him if it worked in France.  He had no idea, so I suggested we see by trying to give Lisa a call. It did work, which was fortunate because Lisa though Hayden was going to need an appendectomy. The hospital was quite a ways from where we were. Getting directions on a Sunday was not easy.  Eventually we found the hospital, and after a few false starts wandering the endless hallways we found Heather, Lisa and Hayden. By the time we showed up Hayden was feeling much better and they were in the process of checking him out of the hospital. Apparently he was just suffering from a sever stomachache possibly from a bug. So everything worked out for the best in the end.

The kids room on Rabelo. Well they are kids.

Lisa set out a little before dinner snack for everyone to enjoy.

Heather and family waving goodbye.

You’re probably wondering what we thought of the French medical system compared to what we have in the states.  I would have to say in a word it is different. The French spend roughly seven percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on medical care while the U.S. spends seventeen percent of GDP. That extra ten percent is effectively a hidden tax on every man, woman and child that the French don’t have to pay.  Are their hospitals as beautiful as ours? No, but they are just as clean.  Is the French system as convenient or effective as ours? For the vast majority the answer would be a resounding yes. The French system works, and it works well.  We could learn a lot from what they have done.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels

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About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.