Modest Boatworks To Become
'Gare d'Eau'

photo: boatworks sequana

This little boatworks is to become the 'Gare d'Eau.'

Ile des Impressionistes Goes Bigtime

Chatou:- Saturday, 10. April 1999:- While touring the Pierre Prins exhibition in the Musée Fournaise today, I've been collared by a boatbuilder. Not 'collared' exactly, but Anne Galloyer said he was looking for me so I let myself be found.

Arriving at the museum, you can't help noticing a garage-like wooden building directly across from it, about 40 metres away. It has two oval plaques and a sign with 'Sequana' on it.

Originally the museum on the Ile de Chatou was a riverside restaurant with an associated boat-rental operation. The good citizens used to comephoto: sailboat ©sequana out from Paris on pleasant weekends to do a bit of canoeing, rowing or sailing; and afterwards have picnics by the river, or pass some time in the restaurant.

One of the rebuilt Seine sailboats. Photo©Association Sequana

In the last century, and up until the mid-fifties of this one, almost anyplace that had water - either sea or river - had some form of recreational facilities nearby.

This applies to the Seine on both sides of Paris, and to the Marne, to the east of Paris. There were many steamboats operating on the river before there were métro or RER lines to the suburbs - although the train line from Paris to Le Pecq opened in 1837 - so it was not overly difficult to get out of the city and into the country.

The Seine, in the west, had a chain of popular spots, starting from the Ile de la Grande Jatte at Neuilly. Some of these are still popular destinations - at Vernouillet, and to a lesser extent, at Villennes. The Oise has a big place close to Cergy too.

These featured guinguettes - open-air cafés with music and dancing - and were often associated with boat landings. There was swimming too, in the 'bains froids,' but afterphoto: interior boatworks 1870 these fell in disrepute - at La Grenouillère at least - as described by Maupassant in 'La Femme de Paul' and 'Yvette;' although he was himself a passionate oarsman, or 'canotier.'

Interior of present boatworks - with new boat almost completed.

Casting the above paragraph in the past tense is a bit misleading - as most of the attractions continue, although I don't think daytime dancing is as popular as it was.

One of the fellows associated with the Sequana boathouse laughs at the memory - recent - of making it look old by 'tinting' its paint with motor oil.

The members of the non-profit 'Sequana' association are busy restoring old river sailboats and canoes. From original plans they also make new boats, and one of these is the 'Roastbeef' - launched in 1996 - apparently so-named in homage to the British practice of calling the French 'Frogs.'

What the town of Chatou has decided to do, is scale up this modest boathouse into a 'Gare d'Eau.' This completely new construction will feature a boatworks, a boathouse for storing many boats on land, and a restaurant where the 'canotiers' can relax after a day on the river.

This new building, this 'Boat Station,' is to be constructedphoto: rest fournaise in a traditional fashion out of wood, and will be placed just upriver from the present museum and restaurant. Work has already started and it is expected to be finished in November, at a cost of over one million dollars.

Where everbody goes after a hard day at the boatworks - the Restaurant Fournaise.

Like the present museum and restaurant, operation will be a year-round affair. The only thing seemingly not planned, is daytime dancing.

Sequana, Ile des Impressionistes, 78400 Chatou. RER 'A:' stations Rueil-Malmaison or Chatou-Croissy. For opening hours, call the Musée Fournaise and ask them to look out the window to see if the Sequana boathouse is open. If it is not, the museum staff will probably know when it is - mostly on weekends probably. Museum Info Tel.: 01 34 80 63 22. Sequana Association: Info. Tel.: 01 39 13 04 25.

In Metropole Paris
Latest Issue
2008 Issues
2007 | 2006 | 2005
2004 | 2003 | 2002
2001 | 2000 | 1999
1998 | 1997 | 1996
In Metropole Paris
About Metropole
About the Café Club
Links | Search Site
The Lodging Page
Paris Museums List
Metropole's 1996 Tours
Metropole's 2003 Tours
Support Metropole
Metropole's Books
Shop with Metropole
Metropole's Wine
metropole paris goodblogweek button
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini