Monday, June 25, 2018

Barge Date:  06-20-2018

On to Verdun

A bit of traveling as we continue up the Meuse River towards Verdun.

Mouzon is a stop along the way.  Found an easy tie-up.  Marianne is set on seeing the felt museum.
Polish Mountaineer's Suit
  This was the industry in town for nearly 100 years but felt is no longer made in France.  Given our background we know a lot about felt making but there were some interesting touches.  Also took the opportunity to have a nice lunch in town. 

We are in a section of the river that does not have automatic locks so at this time of the year they are manned by college students.  Doing 8 or more locks a day, it is nice to have someone to take your line as you enter and drop it on a bollard.  We have also experienced for the first time locking up with another small boat to our stern.  This is made easier with the lock help.  While our supply of Belgian chocolate lasts we leave some with the help.

 This area has some wonderful farm land decked out in wheat, oats, corn and hay.  The fields can be very large and the contours are gentle rolling hills. In terms of scale and equipment, these farms are the equal of many American farms.

Along the way we have been seeing large works on the river and the canal. The French are finally replacing very old and low tech weirs with concrete and movable water control installations. The old relied-on wooden stick was used across the flow to raise and control flow, diverting water into the canalized part of the river.  Think of a little dam at each lock.  These modern weirs will not only help keep water in the canal parts but control flow on the river sections.

Hope you can see the sticks strung across the river

We do 40 kms on the last day to get to Verdun.  We are able to take the last spot on floating pontoons.  Another good mooring move by the crew.  Space, water and electricity are free in this port but this fact causes some to never leave.  The last two nights we have boats tied to our river side and this is common during the summer months.

Notice right away that Andrew, a UK barger first encountered in Liege, is tied on to the opposite side.  He passed Lionel while I was in the US. We learn that he and his dog Sam have been getting a lung full of engine smoke on their travels and he is working on a small wheelhouse.  As it is, he uses a large tiller at the stern, exposed to all the elements and the smoke.

Most Americans know Verdun as one of the French cities that saw months of fighting during WWI. The heavy fighting began only in 1916 but both sides made up for lost time and saw their way to killing more than 500,000. However, more recent calculations of fatalities may have been as high as 975,000. This over a period of about 8 months. The fields still give up the dead.  A large ossuary has the bones of more than 100,000 "unknown".  From the air the remains of many of the trenches can be seen.

In town we visit the underground bunker of the citadel. There are more than 4 kms of arched and bricked tunnels used to store all sorts of war material.  These tunnels were installed prior to WWI and were used during that war. A tour of the site has you on a robot cart that takes you through the site and presents information along the way.  Nearly a Disney ride. Nice.

We were able to meet some very nice people during our stay.  Peter and Ellen from down under as well as Peter and Jo from down under too.  Shared some treats and meals with them and Andrew.

The port is in the middle of town and is the focal point for downtown activity, cafes, and restaurants. For the summer solstice there were 5 bands playing in the downtown areanand lots going on. The following night an impromptu performance by a African drum group and local dancers was a big hit.  Saturday night also more music and fun.

Here are some pictures around town.

We think we now have all the documents needed to apply for French resident permits.  Marianne was able to get through by phone to ask some basic questions.  The problem has been making an appointment.  This must be done on-line and it seems impossible to get a slot.  They suggest we just show up and beg for mercy.  Will do.

Peter and Jo mentioned that when they did this (in another city) things went much faster when their income situation was made known.  We have been told that all of this could take months but perhaps when they see we are on the up and up the permits may come faster.  Will be making another trip to Strasbourg soon.

Don't forget Marianne's photo collection on Facebook.  You do not need a Facebook account. Search for "Barge Adventure".

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