Wednesday, August 6 - Rouen to Conflans

Okay, I’ll warn you right now – this will be the least exciting post of this entire blog, and a very stream-of-consciousness segment. But for me, this was perhaps the most VACATION-like day of the trip. We had no particular item on the agenda until 10:00 a.m., when Lionel was going to speak with all of us about the logistics of our disembarkation on Friday (waaaaaaaaah!), and also a bit about the day’s destination of Les Andelys, home of picturesque houses and shops that come right down to the water’s edge, of the ruined castle of Richard the Lionhearted, Chateau Gaillard. Les Andelys is the village version of a metroplex, consisting of Petite Andelys and Grande Andelys, stretching along the north bank of the Seine.
The leaden sky was dispensing rain in an unending torrent into the chilly morning, so after breakfast I betook myself to the library once again to play catch up on this narrative and to ponder the options that the weather was presenting for the balance of our time in this charming twin city. I have to admit, it was tempting to believe that this day had been providentially provided to afford me the luxury of being a homebody and devoting the waking hours only to the simple pleasure of writing. So I elected to forego the soggy hike to the Chateau (I know – what a wuss!) and just wallow in the joy of letting this enjoyable task fill the day. It also made for an interesting day of passenger-watching, as I eventually found myself again perched in the tiny loft overlooking the Reception area. It’s always fascinating to observe the myriad ways in which one’s fellow humans react to the elements and to each other, and this slightly elevated position gave me the opportunity to be there without really being there, if you get my drift. After all, my own husband walked right past me without noticing that I was there, so “hunting blind” had the desired effect!


The Viking was moored in front of this beautiful home in Conflans...

Those who did make the climb to the castle returned a bit damp, but justifiably proud of their accomplishment, and were more than ready to partake of the “French Tea Time” spread of macaroons and delicious apple pastry that the crew had ready for them in the Lounge to coincide with our departure toward Conflans (midway between Les Andelys and Paris) at 3:00. By this time I had taken a couple hours break to clear the cobwebs and to read some more of my book (it’s getting to the nitty-gritty part and hard to put down!), and was back with the computer by the window in the library on Neptune’s starboard side. Sweet Daniella, our Maitre d’Hotel, was concerned that I was missing my chance to savor some of the delicacies, so she fixed me a small plate of three macaroons (vanilla, caramel and pistachio – yum!) and a slice of the apple pastry. Now, I will never resign my membership in n Anonymous but, given the choice between chocolate and a handmade apple ANYTHING, the apple concoction will win every time – just saying…

The day has cleared considerably since just before our departure from Les Andelys, first the rain ceasing and now the blue sky appearing intermittently between the white and gray clouds (we’re not completely out of this weather system yet), and it is rewarding to be able to observe our arrival at the second of the six locks we will navigate on our way to Paris with the knowledge that I have had a relaxing but productive and creative day without the pressure of playing catch up. This is actually the day that I have been needing for a long while, and I am grateful to have had it in such amiable surroundings.


On the hilltop is the Chateau Gaillard...

At this moment the walls of the lock are towering on both sides of the ship and it is amazing to see how quickly we are negotiating this claustrophobic space. There was a very slight bump as we started our stately progress, but nothing else to indicate the skills being employed to pilot us through the lock’s barely-wide-enough aperture. Now we are being treated to the sight of the Neptune’s seeming emergence from the depths of the waterway as the walls fall away on either side, evidence of the efficiency of the lock’s water replacement system. We will soon be underway once again and able to enjoy the luxuriant greenery on either bank in concert with the beguiling homes that punctuate the shoreline.

It is after 5:00 p.m. local time, and I have been writing since about 9:30 this morning; I think it’s time to stretch my legs a bit now that the sun has deigned to grace us with his presence again…

À bientôt!

One of the many beautiful villas along the Seine River, France.

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