If we were to make real progress on our Parisian quest, we thought perhaps we should be at the first lock at opening time. That's nine am, and most would agree a time better reserved for lying warm under a doona. The promise of a warm day and a temperature already in double figures did spur us on though, and when we got underway we only missed our self imposed deadline by fifteen minutes or so, which we thought wasn't bad even if it did take a couple of cups of coffee to get us there.
Because this is France, the friendly lock keeper we were relying on to make it all work seemed to have adopted a much more sensible approach to starting his day, and we waited for almost an hour for him to press the button which would allow us to take the ride down that last four metres or so to the Moselle. I suspect that the effort of having to get to the office at seven to let the barge through may have taken a lot out of him.
The freedom of the big river and it's twelve kilometre per hour speed limit can apparently be a "let the hair down moment" in craft that are differently configured. For us it is wonderful to be on what seems to be an infinitely wide waterway if not particularly liberating in the velocity stakes.
In theory we'd be able to push poor Joyeux to that sort of speed if Mr P were a little younger perhaps and perhaps not quite so many kilograms of groceries were on board. Theory and practice collide brutally on the river, and well we remember last year, making what we considered to be good progress only to have Paul and Bertha pull alongside to see if there was anything wrong. This year, with Mr P wound out to a dizzying eighteen hundred revolutions per minute, we managed to average better than eight kilometres per hour against two of current, which we thought was quite impressive really.
I'm not sure if it was the noise or the smell of the diesel or just that normally we'd take two days to travel this far, but by the time we arrived in Toul, another of our favourite cities, it was mid afternoon and we were ready once more for a stop.