My Travel Blog

France Is Flooding! France Is Flooding!

Okay, I give up. We’ve had enough rain.  Lisa and I grew up in Southern California where rain is so rare that it’s something to look forward to.  I am no longer looking forward to more rain.  France has had its wettest May on record, and boy was it wet.

At least there was a silver lining to those awful storm clouds.  Apparently the barge gods were looking after us, or was it dumb luck?  You can decide.  We literally managed to miss all of the flooding.  I just spoke to Kevin our ex-captain.  When we arrived in France, Rabelo was tied up in Saint Mammes at the intersection of the Loing and Seine Rivers.  Just after we left Saint Mammes the Seine rose so high that the dock where we were tied up was under water, along with the parking lot where we parked our car, and where the open market was.  The Captain of the Port’s office had six feet of water in it. A half-mile up the Loing River the yard where Rabelo was hauled out in April was completely flooded. All of the workmen were laid off, and I’m sure that most of their expensive equipment was destroyed.

Part of the open market that would have been underwater just after we left.

The Loing River in the background. This llama and I would have been swimming buddies if we waited a couple of days.

Rabelo hauled out at the yard that was destroyed by the floods.

We left St. Mammes and headed down the Seine towards Paris.  A few days later all of the locks we had used were flooded, and thus the river was closed.  Once again we were lucky and missed the excitement.  Just as we arrived in Paris we made a quick right turn, and headed up the Marne River to Champagne.  At one point we were discussing if we should go to Epernay, which is the heart of the Champagne region, or go to Dizy.  Ultimately I made an executive decision.  Remember I’m the captain whenever Lisa tells me I am.  I decided we needed to get off the Marne and go to Dizy.  It proved to be a wise decision.  Dizy is literally two minutes by car from Epernay, but the mooring is on a canal rather than the river.  Had we gone to Epernay I don’t know what we would have done.  I’m sure the docks at the marina were flooded.  To get to the canal we needed to be on we would have had to turn around on the flooded Marne River, which would have been dangerous if not impossible.  It probably would not have mattered, as the day we got off the Marne the VNF closed the river.

This lock in Paris was closed when the river over ran it.

A small offshoot of the Marne.

It’s one thing to read about the flooding, but it’s completely different if you’ve been to all those places.  The city of Montargis was hit hard.  We have fond memories of the quaint little stream that cuts through the center of town.  It’s lovely, and we’ve walked along it many times.  The most recent was last year.  I’m told that the stream turned into a ragging torrent, and cut the city in half.  All the brassieres and restaurants along the little stream were destroyed.

The stream that runs through Montargis literally crosses the canal. I took this picture from the canal, but this is where the stream enters the city.

Getting some help lifting our car back onto Rabelo.

Despite the rain we still found time to go champagne tasting and buying.  We now have enough champagne to last us another three years.  Our first stop was Guy Charlemagne. We visited this champagne house two years ago with captain Julian. Their Grand Cru Champagnes are priced in the mid twenty Euro range.  We bought a case.  We then went to the co-op in Mesnil. It’s been two years since we were last there.  The lady behind the desk remembered us.  We ended up buying two cases.

Michele Gonet.

Michele Gonet’s tasting room that looks out over his vineyard.

One of the many hand painted bottles that Michele’s daughter has painted.

Our car filled with champagne.

The following day we went to Michele Gonet’s winery.  We were last there four years ago with our friends Scott, Lovita, Jon and Cherolyn.  It was one of the more memorable experiences of our trip, as we spent two hours with Michele tasting bottle after bottle of his really good stuff.  Some of the bottles he opened were over twenty years old.  Lisa and I were fortunate again as Michele joined us for another tasting.Once again he went to his cellar and opened up some of the old bottles he still has. He is such a delightful, generous, kind, gentlemen.  Any time spent with him is a treat.  We bought over a case plus he gave us two bottles from his winery in Bordeaux.

-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.