Monday, 21 September 2015

Off to find a barge in France

Rob and I have spent months researching barges- first off, why would we want one...it's not as though we have barged before and love it!  Well, we are up for our next adventure.  Of course it sounds wonderful to have the freedom to cruise into the heart of a city or village, moor up, get a bike off the deck and ride down the road to buy fresh croissants for breakfast, a baguette and selection of Cheeses...  We are pretty sure we won't dislike the life, and what's the worst that can happen if we do?  We sell the barge, and buy a yacht in Greece..?
I found a fabulous blog about the travels of a ship called Esme owned by The Grants, who have been barging for several years.  After some weeks of emails flying backwards and forwards, Diana and Chris so kindly answering endless noveau questions, Diana suggests we spend a few days barging with them...what kindness to take on board two strangers whom they know little about.
We meet in Belgium, and are  instantly warmly welcomed on their belle bateau.  Esme is a luxe-motor, converted  to a pleasure ship in 1927 - here we are moored up on the quay in Verdun and we look up and see a double rainbow...the unexpected and surprising moments on a barge...


Esme has a spacious and large wheelhouse, here is Chris showing Rob the steering and Rob looking at a computer system called Navigo- it tells you which locks are ahead, the width, depth of the lock and any bridges, their height.. You need to know this if you don't want your wheelhouse lopped!  The wheelhouse has double doors which open out onto the aft deck.  This is one of my criteria in looking for a barge... Rob wants a barge that is in immaculate condition, he wants to barge for a year or two learning the barge, without having to fix bow thrusters, propellers and generators.... 


Esme is a beautiful floating home.  Diana and Chris have created an incredible homely space, using every nook and cranny so practically - e,g. there are two pull out draws under the stairs which slide out with ease and contain delicious French delicacies, spices and other goodies.  The galley (kitchen) is small but has everything one needs.  The saloon (living/lounge area) is luxurious relaxed comfort.  


Lunch in the wheelhouse - to live for creamy cheeses, blue cheese, olives, artichokes, a selection of cold cuts which Rob says are better than any in SA. And fresh baguettes.


We sleep in the Captains aft cabin, I am amazed by what a small space can contain.  From hair dryer to sound system, delightful small bathroom, our own shower - what luxury!  Wonderful old cabinetry tells a story of the family that once lived in this space as they carted grain along the canals.



Cruising down the river...on The good ship Esme....

Reflections...






And we say a grateful goodbye to Diana and Chris for their generous sharing of Esme, their advice and guidance.  Chris and Diana have gone through the specs of the barges we have planned to see with a toothcomb- we know the questions to ask... They tell us The One is waiting for us..














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