My Travel Blog

Our Own Private Chapel Concert

You never know what the serendipities of life will serve up. One day you get piles of poop on your front lawn, and the next you wake up to the sweet smell of roses wafting through the open window.  Well it turned out that our stay in Joinville was as sweet and delicious as fresh flowers.

The last time we were in Joinville we visited Saint-Anne Chapel. It dates back to 1504, and for a small town church it is quite impressive.  On this trip we decided to go back.  We have visited so many churches that we can typically blow through them in less than five minutes.  The last time we were in the Joinville church the organist was practicing.  We sat in a pew for over a half hour while enjoying our very own private concert.

On this visit it got even better.  As we walked into the church a young man followed us.  We basically ignored each other, and went about our business.  The stranger went over to a small staircase, and began to unlock a door that led to another very steep staircase.  At that point we made eye contact.  He said something in French, and we responded with our universal response to all French speakers, “Do you speak English?” Fortunately he did, and he invited us up to see and listen to him play the organ.

The Saint-Anne Chapel organ.

The stairway that leads to the church organ.

More organ pipes behind the instrument. Note the wood organ pipes closest to the wall.

We quickly discovered that Gilles De L’Assomption was the same organist we listened to four years ago. He has been playing for the church over eight years.  The instrument he plays was built in 1688, and is the oldest organ in the region.  The sound that comes out of it is amazing.  It never occurred to me that it would be so loud, but then again we were right next to all those organ pipes.  It is fairly common to have organ concerts at the churches in the small towns during tourist season.  In fact Gilles gave us a small brochure showing when he would be playing.  We hope we will be close enough to go, but then we already heard most of the concert.  I have no qualms about hearing Gilles play for a third time.

Gilles getting ready to play the organ.

Lisa gets her first organ lesson.

Standing over a portion of the Marne River.

A portion of the Marne River flows through the center of Joinville.  With all the flooding even this small tributary was impressive.

There was a time when all canal locks had their own lock keeper.  The lock-keepers lived in a small house next to their lock.  Most locks are now automated, and so they don’t need as many lock-keepers, or lock houses. The VNF rents those houses out to bring in a little extra cash.  Many of the renters stay for years if not decades.  They will expand the lock houses, add fencing around the property and redo the garden.  It is not unusual to find renters with a sense of humor. We’ve been down the Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne on two other occasions and the following pictures are from on of our favorite lock houses.  I wish I could have the same gnomes decorating my front lawn. Unfortunately the directors of our homeowners association would go into cardiac arrest, but that may not be a bad thing.

Everyone should have at least a few lawn gnomes in their front yard.

I want these guys for our front lawn.

Lisa and I with Rabelo behind us.

-Tom Miller

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


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.