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Late Friday morning I pocketed a stack of 2-euro coins and set out for Crécy-la-Chapelle, in the Brie region, probably the last of my day trips from An Hour from Paris.

Transport glitches — feel free to skip. As is often the case, getting there was somewhat challenging.  The guidebook said that I needed to take an SNCF train from Gare de l’Est, but neither Crécy nor the intermediate stop — Esbly — were listed on the yellow SNCF ticket machines (and also the machines didn’t accept coins!)  The guy at the information desk sent me to specific tracks, however, where there were Transilien machines that did list Crécy and did accept coins.  I had to ask again which track to go to, since the informational signs in this area were all blank. When I got to Esbly to change trains there was a lot of contradictory information: a monitor showed the 13h07 train to Crécy as being supprimé (which didn’t sound good), there was a schedule for bus service replacing the train entirely on Saturday (presumably irrelevant since today was Friday), a woman came on the PA to say something about the train that sounded apologetic, then a man came on the PA clearly stating that the train to Crécy would leave at 13h07. After waiting 15 minutes I gave up on that train and grabbed a sandwich and a noisette in the uninspiring provincial burg. Lucky for me, the next train wasn’t supprimé so I got to Crécy only an hour late. The line from Esbly to Crécy has a single train going back and forth once an hour (more or less), over a single track.

Crécy-la-Chapelle is a medieval market town encircled by the Grand Morin, a tributary of the Marne. Three moats, fortified by walls and towers, both protected the town and facilitated transport. The old town somewhat resembles the Petite France area of Strasbourg and and the Petit Venise area of Colmar, on a smaller scale and with absolutely no tourists.

Canal and Houses at Crécy-la-Chapelle

Canal and Houses at Crécy-la-Chapelle

About a mile from the old town, mostly along a moat and a branch of the Grand Morin, is a lovely 13th century church, collégiale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption.

Eglise de la Chapelle, Crécy-la-Chapelle

Collégiale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, Crécy-la-Chapelle

Crécy can be comfortably explored in an afternoon, though I did wish I had had that extra hour. A photo set is up on Picasa at https://picasaweb.google.com/rwmack/CrecyLaChapelle2011

Update: I subsequently read “Les Particules élémentaires” by Michel Houellebecq, at the suggestion of Ryan Norbauer. I had a pleasant shock of recognition when I recognized one of the principal locations in the book as Crécy-la-Chapelle! It turns out that Houellebecq lived there for some years during his youth.

Friday evening I met up with Nick, a friend from last year, for an apéro on rue Montorgueil.

Nick and rue Montorgueil

Nick and rue Montorgueil

After Nick left, to have dinner with visiting college friends, I made my standard meal once again — probably for the last time this trip.