Monday, August 6, 2012

Bassin de l'Arsenal and Canal Saint-Martin

After I had returned from buying the daily baguette from the boulangerie around the corner, we went caught the Metro to Denfert-Rochereau to see the Catacombes.

The exit from the platform at our local Metro stop, Convention. Everybody else goes out the entrance to the right while we battle with the exit on the left. Are we stupid? Don't answer that.

We reached the Catacombes to find a line that was probably over two hundred yards long. They were allowing groups of 10 to enter every five to ten minutes. Simple math indicated that it would be several hours before we reached the head of the line so we agreed that coming back another day about 3pm would be a better idea than standing in the line.

Fortunately I had a backup plan that did not involve bicycles. These are bikes that the public can use. Pay 150 euros as a deposit and you can ride them free. Personally, I would not ride a bicycle in Paris until I knew my way around very well. It's too dangerous in the traffic.

The backup plan was to walk along the Canal Saint-Martin that links up with the Seine at the Bassin de l'Arsenal. We took the Metro to the Seine where we saw this curious green structure on the south side of the river. We have no idea what it is but I presume it is something to do with Gare l'Austerlitz which is situated there.

Here is the Bassin de l'Arsenal. As you can see, it is full of boats that are moored on both sides.

Since the Seine can vary in height, there is a lock that links the river to the canal.

A boat in the lock ready to go to the river.

Another boat enters the lock. This looked like it would be a very comfortable way to get around. Although I have enjoyed two canal boat holidays in England, I would still like to do one in France. The locks are wider in France so boats can be wider than the narrow boats of England.

While it is possible to moor your boat on the Seine, the number of places is limited and your boat is at the mercy of the current. This is much calmer.

Now here is your basic box boat. No frills are us. Perfect for one person. Two would need to be very friendly.

Or you could hold a convention on this one.

As you would expect in Paris, quite a few people were out enjoying the Sunday morning.

As we came across the bloke painting, the man in the green shirt came along from the opposite direction and immediately stopped to watch. Possibly he followed up with some well judged comments.

Isn't this a beauty?

This was a real hisser. The photos do not do it justice.

I liked this boat. Big but not enormous. Blue and white colour schemes seemed to be the most popular.

The tunnel entrance at the north end of the basin.

Another dog absolutely flat out.

A study in grey as we crossed a Metro line.

This is where we came across a huge outdoor market which I have blogged separately.

We left the market and continued north.

You have to wonder how it got here and why it got here.

It's a perpetual joy to look at the architecture here.

If you click on this photo, take a look at the top floor. It looks like an artist's atelier with the north facing ceiling windows.

Marianne wondered why I stopped to take a photo of this patch of ground. It's for Pétanque which is similar to bocce.

The perfect Paris cafe scene. A couple talking and some old codger drinking his coffee.

So here is the real reason why we came here. Some twenty or more years ago we recorded on our VCR a show on PBS where two blokes in a barge / tug combination tour the canals in France. During one episode they come along here and pass through the tunnel. These are the ventilation hole covers for the tunnel. I wanted to see them. When I get home I will look at the video again and see who made it.

Spiffy green uniforms.

Yes, it's a ping pong table with metal net.

This is not a deadly mine. It's for your bottles to be recycled.

Click on this one to see the red vest on the dog.

Presumably the bicycles have gone away.

Another of the ventilation covers.

The northern area above the tunnel is home to various gypsy looking people and drunks. There were a group of the latter sitting on a bench on the other side of fountain, all with beer in hand. They noticed me taking a photo of the novel cooling method and called out to me. I gave them a big thumbs up and there was a loud cheer. If Marianne had not been with me, I would have joined them for a cold one. I might still be there and no doubt there are worse things in life. Perry down and out in Paris.

Back and front of a grisette. It's worth looking at the link to see the history of the term.

Another lock.

The lock at the end of the tunnel leading to the Seine.

A surveillance camera in the midst of it all. It's probably so that the lock keeper at the entrance to the Seine can see what is coming down and if there are any problems.

The above three photos show the conundrums that you face in Paris. Do you look down, do you look level, or do you look up. All three can produce decent results.

I was intrigued by the white wall tyres.

The patron saint of bloggers. A blog without photos is just a document.

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