The leisurely pace of a barge cruise makes excursions memorable

Part of the charm of a barge cruise is the leisurely pace. The boat moves slowly, and so do you. If you want the faster pace, you can have that too – there are bicycles on board that you can use for trips into the villages or countryside, or, if you are sailing the canals, you can hop out and either walk or bike the paths along the banks.

Because the barge is slow, you can easily get to the next lock before the boat.

But if you enjoy the quiet pace, as I do, there is great pleasure to be had just sitting on deck with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and watching the French countryside glide by. I accompanied Marc by bike to a local food store in Montereau, one of the port stops along the Yonne. The store was a large specialty food shop, sort of the country version of Fauchon’s.

I loved looking at the different cheeses, the lovely perfect vegetables – purple carrots and miniature naves – and the almost jewel-like displays of meat.

On another day, we walked the canal between Moret and Nemours. We toured Moret, where Sisley painted, and had coffee in the square, visited the lovely Gothic church and enjoyed the bridge and the river. I am a poor but enthusiastic painter, so I did some sketching, and we took Teddy for walks.

In Nemours there was a show of couture bridal dresses in the 12th century chateau, made by three women from Nemours who now make wedding dresses for Balenciaga and Gucci under the name Cymbeline and are world famous. The gowns were beautiful.

But my favorite moments were the quiet times on deck, with my sketchbook and tea.

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