Saint-Mammès is one of our favorite places to visit for a walk, so today off we went. As always we enjoyed our stroll, and the morning ended with a surprise – a good one, at that.
Saint-Mammès is at the confluence of the Loing River and the Seine. Just a half mile away the Canal du Loing joins the Loing River. The Canal du Loing is the main canal to mid-France, and from it a boat can reach the Mediterranean (via the Rhone River) or the Atlantic (via the Garrone River through Bordeaux). Once the Canal du Loing was busy with commercial péniches (barges) but today we see only pleasure boats and tour boats on it. However the location of Saint Mammès means that it became the home port for many pèniches, and remains that for the increasing number of huge barges we see on the Seine. As a result, Saint Mammès has many old, no-longer-in-operation pèniches and quite a few of the big new ones lining the quais. In fact, the school-age children of the pèniches go to school here, so there are always lots of boats.
We always walk along the Quai du Loing, which, amazingly enough, runs along the Loing River. There are lots of boats now used as houseboats along here, and also some activity in companies that repair boats of all types. And there are beautiful houses along the quai:
These houses have wonderful views onto the Loing River and are on quiet streets. They have one drawback: two of the last three years the Loing has flooded and the bottom floors of these houses were under water. That might make me think about living in one…
Some péniches, old and new, in Saint-Mammès:
Another thing we love about Saint-Mammès is that our favorite Impressionist painter, Alfred Sisley, lived in a neighboring town – Moret-sur-Loing – and painted many pictures of Saint-Mammès. Like Moret-sur-Loing, Saint-Mammès has a number of places where Sisley painted and the city has erected a display showing the picture. Today, you can look at the Sisley picture on the display, then look up and see the exact scene. Not much has changed in the 130 years. I wrote about this a couple years ago: Some stuff about Saint-Mammès from 2013
And the surprise: as we walked Saint-Mammès, we noticed a small restaurant that was not there two years ago. We walked past it, greeted the woman cleaning it in preparation for lunch and looked at the menu for lunch: two courses (entreé and plat – first and second courses – or plat and dessert – second and third courses: 12€, about $14). After building an appetite with our walk, we decided to give it a try. It was excellent: the food was way above-average for a small-town, small restaurant, the woman serving was friendly (and pretended to understand my French; always a bonus), the carafe d’eau (the pitcher of tap water one can always get in a restaurant) was ice-cold – a rarity – and the whole meal, including two beers and two coffees, was about $40. A find!
That’s Saint-Mammès, one of our favorite day walks. This won’t be the last time we’re here.