This is the story of becoming suddenly unemployed, nearing 60 and being forced to face up to the fact that life is about to change drastically. It’s about discovering that your life can fall apart just enough to allow you to put it back together again in a whole new way.
This is the story of tossing the briefcase, cutting up the credit cards, selling the house and buying an 80 year old Dutch barge in France, then setting sail for Paris.
It’s a joyful and funny tale of stepping off the beaten path to live a dream that you’d thought you’d forgotten: Living on a barge in the middle of Paris. [Goodreads]
Ok, you know I was bound to like this book since I love all things French but I REALLY liked this book. The author, Cris Hammond finds himself suddenly unemployed. Instead of moping about the curve ball that was thrown at him, Cris and his wife use the experience to do something they never thought they'd do - they buy a river barge in France.
The book is about their experiences living on the barge in France for part of the year. You get to learn about what it is like to navigate the lock system of the rivers of France which was super interesting (and nerve wracking to read at times as they had some stressful experiences). There was a lot of humor thrown in, especially in regards to trying to learn the French language, which is something I've struggled with as well.
I didn't know much about barges before reading this book, but after reading it, my curiosity is piqued and I would love to travel around France on a barge. They got to see some of the smaller, charming towns of France and they saw them from such a unique perspective.
If you enjoy travel memoirs and/or are interested in France, I recommend this book! It's a delightful, fun read.
Cris Hammond is a nationally known artist, cartoonist, and entrepreneur. His comic strip, Speed Walker, Private Eye, was seen daily in over 150 newspapers across the country, from The Miami Herald to The Seattle Sun Times, The San Diego Union, and The Minneapolis Star Tribune. His paintings of ships and the sea have appeared in galleries in Sausalito, San Francisco, Tiburon, and Carmel, California. He led special effects teams to Academy Awards for Special Effects in motion pictures including Star Trek IV, Innerspace, and The Abyss, among others. In 1994, facing penury, he left his artistic pursuits, bought a briefcase and a couple ties, and went out and got a real corporate job. Eight years and four more neckties later, he walked into his office one morning and was ambushed by the waiting Exit Interview Team, which informed him that he was, as of that moment, “out on his ear.”
After a suitable period of bi-polar careening between panic and reflection, he realized that he was too young to retire and too old to go looking for another corporate job. So, he sold the house, bought a barge in France and started painting again.
Now he and his wife, Linda, spend half the year in California living and working in their tiny art studio near San Francisco, and the other half doing the same thing on the barge in France. Piloting their 1925 Dutch barge Phaedra, they’ve meandered through more than 1200 kilometers of canals and rivers and negotiated more than 850 locks in their travels from the Rhone wine region, through Burgundy to Chablis and down the Seine into Paris.
Keep in touch with him:
Contact page | Goodreads