Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Friday 22 and Saturday 23 July 2016. 

Sedan is quite a fun place to spend a couple of days.

Sedan - our mooring was the white blob just east of the bridge left of the 'Radio 8' marker. 

Founded in the 10th Century, the city is dominated by its massive fortress, claimed to be the largest fortified medieval castle in Europe with a total area of 30,000 square metres (36,000 sq yd) and built on seven levels.

Chateau fort de Sedan

Its other medieval claim to fame was as a refuge for Protestants during the French Wars of Religion or Huguenot Wars. It has over time been a principality, a French city, a German city, a French city, a German (occupied) city and is now a French city again. During World War II the German troops first invaded neutral Belgium and crossed the Meuse River by winning the Second Battle of Sedan that lasted from 12 to 15 May 1940. This battle allowed them to win the whole Battle of France as they not only bypassed the French fortification system, the Maginot Line, but it also enabled them to entrap the Allied Forces that were advancing east into Belgium.

The port is very conveniently situated between the old and newer parts of town with plenty of shops and restaurants a short ride away. So we went exploring…

First it was a visit to the fortress which is truly enormous 

Castle courtyard with remains of original church in foreground

with a warren of dimly lit passageways interspersed with rooms complete with life sized wax models depicting various scenes of daily life of the princes, soldiers and household in the Principality.

This chap really startled Lynn!

From time to time one exits into the bright sunlight at another level of the fortifications with great views over the city.

We hired two audioguides (only one of which worked) and the route around the edifice is well marked and synchronised with the recording. An excellent outing!

At the entrance to the fortress was a placard proclaiming “Tournoi de Chevalerie, Château-fort de Sedan. 02 Juillet - 24 Août à 15h00, tour le jours sauf Jeudi” (Knights Tournament, Sedan Fortress, 2 July - 24 August at 15h00 every day except Thursdays) so, not knowing how long we would be staying in Sedan, we decided to return to the fortress that afternoon to watch the show. Although mainly aimed at interactivity with children with its Good Knight/Bad Knight/Princess theme (with a fire breathing dragon thrown in), the show was a lot of fun with some really good horsemanship and swordsmanship on display.

The next day we headed north past the huge recreation area and turned east, crossing the Canal de l’Est into what seemed like a less affluent part of town

but which had a lovely 19thC Gothic style Eglise St Leger.

Then it was back into the city proper where a huge indoor/outdoor market was being held.

The outdoor part of the market

Unfortunately, much of the commercial center where most of the restaurants and boutiques hold sway, was being dug up to replace water pipes so not very attractive but it will look lovely when finished.

Roadworks in the center of town.

Eventually after a ‘drop-shopping’ experience  at the market which included consuming some tasty regional snacks

and a visit to the L'eglise Saint Charles,

it was back to “Elle” - and who do we see moored on the opposite bank? None other that the Murrel’s ex-barge Friesland on which we had done our skippers courses in 2013!


After a late lunch of one of Lynn’s inspirational pasta dishes washed down with a glass of rose,

we got to meet the new owners of Friesland, Steven and Kim (thanks Ian McCauley) who were walking their dog Dash - nice people.

And that was Sedan

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Sillery to Sedan – A dash back to the Meuse.

Friday 15 July – Sillery to Variscourt – 42 kilometres, 14 locks, 7 hours 30 minutes

Lovely weather, lovely scenery, great, free, unserviced pleasure boat mooring largely taken up by a commercial. We managed to squeeze between their bow and a group of fishing persons who would not budge an inch for us.

Claire waving goodbye as we cruise past Serenity

The start of the main marina at Reims


Note fisherpersons off our bow. This is a halte fluviale...

Saturday 16 July –Variscourt to Lock 11 Nanteuil near Barby – 31 kilometres, 5 locks, 5 hours 30 minutes.

Ditto for the previous day but much nicer mooring.


Peaceful mooring.

After all that hard work some sustenance was needed.

Sunday 17 July – Lock 11 Nanteuil to Attigny – 23 kilometres, 5 locks, 4 hours 30 minutes.

Rode into Rethel to do some shopping before our departure – should rather have left our mooring  at 08h45, moored in Rethel, shopped, and departed but the ride was interesting albeit it cost an extra hour. Port diesel pump leaking badly so spent quite some time cruising on one engine – takes a bit of getting used to! A stunning day nevertheless topped off by having Austin and Susi Robinson from the American flagged cruiser Freshwater on board for sundowners.

Monday 18 July Attigny to Neuville-Day (Lock 20) – 9.5 kilometres, 9 locks, 3 hours 15 minutes. A very warm day but eventually a really gorgeous mooring all to ourselves. And now diesel dripping at a fast rate from the starboard lift pump – gunge from the pre-filter?

Great mooring

Abandoned pub.

Tuesday 19 July – Neuville-Day to Le Chesne – 6.5 kilometres, 19 locks, 4 hours 50 minutes.
Temperatures up to 36C so hard work for Lynn and thank goodness we took two days to do the staircase. Used our ‘misters’ ( for the first time to great effect.

The next day we arranged for a mechanic from the local garage to have a look at the leaking engines. Try as he would he could not do anything about the diesel pump leak and suggested that we have someone at the boatyard in Pont-a-Bar have a look at it. He cleaned out the pre-filters and managed to swop out the lift pump which, sure enough, had a gunge-jammed diaphragm which was causing it to leak. After three hours of sweating in the bilges he went back to his workshop, returned with a cut-in-half 10 litre plastic container which fitted snugly under the diesel pump and suggested that we collect the diesel and pour it back into the tank through a fine mesh. For his efforts he charged us €50 – a bargain!

The road out of town

Thursday 21 July – La Chesne to Pont-a-Bar to Sedan – 41 kilometres, 10 locks, 7 hours 40 minutes plus 40 minutes spent in Pont-a-Bar.

A gentle cruise to Pont-a-Bar despite being chased down by a pair of Dutch flagged cruisers going at full revs along this already damaged canal

Canal repairs

Free mooring without services just before the Sedan marina

 but we lost them just after the tunnel as they had to wait for the lights to change in their favour. The mechanic at Pont-a-bar (nice guy and knowledgeable) said that the diesel pump needed to come out and be sent to a specialist for repairs but that we could continue on two engines and sieve the caught fuel back into the tank without any problem.

Arriving in Sedan at last we saw a large section of pontoon vacant (unusually) despite two cruisers being tied up against the wall in preference to the pontoon. It has been a long time since we have been on a river and the gentle following wind and unnoticed following current conspired against us as we turned to port to glide into our mooring. Suddenly going sideways at a rate of knots I could only grit my teeth as we hit the pontoon broadside on, finding the only protruding stainless bolt-head in its 30 metre length which duly took a sizeable chunk out of our side. And there we were, pinned but safe – welcome to Sedan!

Don't you love people who do this? Unoccupied during our stay.
Sedan Port de Plaisance - pic taken the next day after we had moved forward on the pontoon.