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Paris by Sailboat!

Back in April 2022, we embarked upon what was an incredible and unforgettable journey. One that quite frankly I never thought could have been as magical, yet tranquil as it was. A voyage full of contrast that reminded me of just how lucky we are to live and travel the world from the comfort of our home. This Journey took us to Paris by sailboat.

For those who don´t know me, I lived in France for all of my twenties, and Paris was my home for a good part of that time. The River Seine was an intricate part of the Parisian lifestyle, I worked on Rive Gauche and lived on Rive Droite but wherever my path would go the water of France´s iconic River seemed to flow too.

Never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined that I would be sailing along that very same river, in front of the Eiffel Tower with my family onboard our 30ft sailing boat.

How it all began

Our original plan was to go via the Canal du Midi and sail along the northern coastline of Spain. After doing our research, we realised that the draft of our boat at the time Vega, was smack bang on the maximum draft line to safely get through the Canal. We had read about stories of boats getting stuck and given the lack of rain that had fallen that winter we decided it was too much of a risk and would add unnecessary stress to a journey that was meant to be relaxing.

We decided to leave the Mediterranean and head to the English Channel via the Northern route. Starting in the Rhone, then the Saone taking some spectacular landscapes, chateaux and bridges which are most definitely not what you think you are going to see when travelling by sailboat!

(I will be writing more posts in the future about this fabulous journey, but for now, let´s head to Paris.)

Arriving in one of the most beautiful cities of the world in your de-masted sailboat is a surreal experience. Going from peaceful river banks where you can literally stop anywhere you like and hunker down for the night to the hustle and bustle of factory smoke, grey industrial buildings, and polluted skies in earshot of sirens and cars beeping their horns. It was an assault on the senses but one we embraced with excitement. We were going to be mooring our boat smack-bang in the middle of Paris. It quite literally made us giggle with glee.

We navigated our way along the banks of the river Seine amongst the ornate Hausmann buildings. The Hausmann architecture is the quintessential Parisian style of 19th-century architecture that still defines Paris and whose enduring appeal has made Paris one of the most visited and well-loved cities in the world.

We were headed for the Paris marina, which is in the Bastille Quarter. Bastille is well documented in the history books, symbolising the French Revolution with its iconic monument. Nowadays it makes for an interesting and vibrant area with bustling streets, delicious eateries and busy café terraces.

We gained access to the marina via a lock and quickly moored up. We were amazed at the price per night we would have to pay for this surreal experience which was less than 30 euros per night!

We quickly headed to the showers and got our glad rags on, ready to don the streets of Paris looking less boat/like and more city slicker. It was a Friday night and there was a buzz to the place. We lapped it up and hungrily walked to the restaurant with a spring in our step!

We went to a local eatery that I used to frequent in my twenties, Le Cafe des Anges. Whilst that is almost 30 years ago, the good thing about Paris is that those institutional-type restaurants with their traditional zinc counters and tiled floors are still going strong.

Portobello Mushroom Escalopes with Homemade French Fries

Over the next few days, we enjoyed all the tourist attractions Paris has to offer and as our son loves museums, fun fairs and good food, we had no trouble finding cool things to do. The Jardin d´Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne was most definitely a highlight. A relatively low-key and tasteful (bien sur! We are in Paris!) amusement park with enough fun for a great day out and lots of shady grassy areas for a picnic. Our favourite museum was Le Louvre but another smaller interactive museum for children Musee en Herbes was a fun day out too.

Whilst being here in the centre of Paris in our floating home was one of those pinch-me moments where you look up at the stars and smile with appreciation, the best was yet to come.

If we thought mooring our boat in the centre of Paris amongst the Hausmann buildings was a pretty awesome experience our socks were quite literally blown off when we motored past the Eiffel Tower. It was an incredible moment when we all looked at each other in disbelief, listening to French classic tunes on our speakers and dodging the tourist boats, sometimes under a rain shower. Whilst the heavens opened from time to time our spirits were far from dampened. We were ecstatic! We looked at each other in disbelief and both Conrad and I were slightly (he insists less than me ) emotional.

It is for this very reason, and for these special moments that we choose to live life this way. Living and working on a boat as a family isn´t always easy, it has its fair share of challenges but it is full of rich experiences and for that reason, we feel blessed.

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