Thursday 3rd May - Saturday 5th May. Compiegne stopover.
We walked into Compiegne via the scenic route, past the Park of the Chateau and through narrow cobbled streets. Many times we were forced onto the road because the pavement was so narrow that parked vehicles left barely inches between their sides and the stone walls of the 17th century buildings. There was evidence of the strategic importance of the town in both World Wars in the pock-marked stones of many large buildings. As we neared the town centre, we saw what I thought was a church in the final stages of renovation. On closer inspection, it turned out to be an exhibition of Joan of Arc, her importance as a national icon as depicted in propaganda posters - I have photos.
The Yacht Club of Compiegne allows visitors a maximum of two nights' free mooring and so tomorrow we shall move on, stopping first at the largest ships' chandlers on the inland waterways, to purchase more rope for mooring, locking and securing the side bollards.
We arrived at the chandlery just after noon. Two fully laden peniches were breasted up at the main fuel barge and a Brit cruiser tied alongside the smaller tug, so we havered about where we'd moor. We'd just decided to breast up to the cruiser when I noticed her engine was running and she'd cast off. The crew were faffing about recovering ropes, quite oblivious to the massive pusher bearing down on them from upstream and us waiting at their stern. Despite this, we managed to rope off on the tug without incident.
MWNN bought his supplies in the 15 minutes left 'til closing and we headed south to the public mooring 5 km downstream. The lock-keeper was extremely slow putting us through the shorter of the two lock chambers. As we approached the halte nautique, we saw there was 'no room at the inn'. Even if there had been, we wouldn't have got in as we are 45 feet and the pontoons were no longer than 15 and ata right angles to the current. We turned and made our way back to Compiegne where we moored between the hotel boat Anacolufe and the Restaurant Chinoise at the town mooring. It's very difficult for us here as there is a very high wall running between the narrow walkway and the car park. It's too high for both me and Loony GSD to jump and MWNN had to lift her on and off the boat - no mean feat to lift 34kilos of GSD above shoulder height while balanced on a narrow ledge.
As there is another long holiday weekend ahead of us, we must provision the boat for 4 days. No one ever explained how Ratty continued to provide picnic baskets on his boat without doing some serious shopping when he returned home. I gave MWNN the list and he returned with everything except stamps.
There is a 40km an hour wind blowing down the river so we have decided to take the Eastward route back to St Quentin, via the river Aisne, where we should find shelter in the Forest of Compiegne. Apart from the uncertainty about being able to return upstream against the current and wind, I'm fairly certain we wouldn't be welcome down on the Seine without the VHF radio which MWNN has left at home in England.