Charmes to historic Toul.

Last time I wrote we were in Charmes and it has pluses and minuses as a place to moor. The power and water at €9.44 (including tourist tax) was a reasonable price (showers were available at an extra price) and there are shady trees but under those shady trees are parked lots of camping cars, at least 25 while we were there. Also the large overhead bridge was very busy and loud on a Monday morning. Still it was 33° so the power to run the fans was well worth the noise and busyness. 

Still we decided to just stay one night. Up at 7am thanks to the church bells tolling for 10 minutes I did my yoga in a nice cool temperature, Alan nipped into town for baguette, and we were at the first lock when the lights went on at 9am.

We cruised down the canal, leaving the département of Vosges and entering the Meuthes et Moselle. Cycleways run alongside the water and we have seen quite a few cyclists as well as walkers, some stopping to watch us descend in the locks. 

The countryside is full of trees and agriculture, a lot of corn, maize and hay and the heat picked up as the day went on. F9814BA8-A367-41DE-B042-FD5119B317F0

After 6 hours and 13 locks under the 33° sun we called it a day and tied up along the canal under a tree and then an hour later moved over to the other side with better shade in the evening. A lovely quiet spot. 

The next day we leisurely moved 4 kms and 2 locks (one of which broke down and we had a bit of a wait) then pulled into Richardmènil, a quay side mooring with power and a town 800m up a steep hill. The forecasted rain didn’t show up and other than thunder the evening continued to be stiflingly hot. 

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Richardménil 

That delayed rain (further afield there was a lot of hail but we were lucky and the storm bypassed us) eventually arrived in the late afternoon but not before we trekked up the hill to the supermarket and boulangerie for supplies. 

The following day it rained consistently so we stayed put and enjoyed much cooler weather. Well I enjoyed it. Only 18°. Bliss!

So Friday morning dawned a beautiful day and after yoga and breakfast we headed off at 8.50, clearing the next two 3m locks and placing the télécommande (lock remote control) in a metal box at the second lock. From there we were heading into commercial lock country, onto the Moselle. The next lock was a big deep one, 7.10m deep and long enough to fit a 172 metre commercial barge and pusher, luckily there wasn’t one waiting. There are lack of water issues along the Vosges and Moselle at this point in the summer and we waited an hour and a half to complete this lock process due to waiting for another boat to catch up (45 mins) and the slowed down filling and emptying of such a massive lock. The éclusier did come down from her control tower to let us know about the wait so we had coffee and sat around until the other boat (a Finnish yacht) finally arrived. We could have stayed in bed an extra hour but it was fine and the lock filling so slowly made it an easy trip down.

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Onto the Moselle river and the big commercial base at Neuves-Maisons.

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Waiting in the big commercial lock, all by ourselves. 

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Busy crew.

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Finally we were underway after descending 7.2m

We had to wait for the yacht at the next commercial lock as well, their speed much slower than us but it was only 45mins to pass through. Between the big locks the Moselle River has trees all the way, very quiet and peaceful and we took turns lounging up at the bow while the other one drove.

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A friend waiting with us in a lock

By 1430 we arrived at the first of 3 locks in Toul. I called the éclusier on VHF channel 20 and he set up the lock for us, 4.4m deep but only 37m long. The yacht followed us in but once through the lock they carried on while we turned onto the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, through three more locks and a lifting bridge, finally arriving in Toul at 4pm and just managing to squeeze into a mooring space. The port was looking pretty full. 

The reason the port was almost full could have been because that weekend they had a water festival in the port which included water jousting! Small boats with 4 paddlers, 1 person at the rudder and the jouster himself suspended on a metal platform over the top of the rear of the boat wi5 a long metal pole in hand. Teams compete in rounds of jousting, the idea being to paddle at each other then try to push the other jouster off his little ledge. Hilarious to watch! We had an awesome view from the back deck of Silverfern. The event went all weekend with music, food trucks, and lots of other contests. 

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Action shot, jousting in Toul.

Toul, originally known as Tullum Leucorum by the Romans, became a Free Imperial City by the Middle Ages and was annexed to France by King Henry ll in 1552. By 1648 it was one of the Three Bishoprics, the others being Metz (where we are heading soon) and Verdun. This was a province of pre-revolutionary France. The town was sieged during the Franco-Prussian In 1870 and was a primary US air-base during WW1. There is a memorial to the Resistance of this area near the port. So a very long and fascinating war history here. The town is very pretty with a lovely square, loads of bars/restaurants and the remnants of the town’s fortifications everywhere. From 1874-1914 the Toul was one of the strongest fortified towns in the world. There is an interesting juxtaposition between the old masonary and cut stone forts built by the famous fortifications architect Vauban, LouisXIVs military engineer, and the modern Maginot Line concrete and artillary turrets. You can walk all over the ramparts and into the old moat and there are lots of parks and flowers.

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Sheep grazing in the old moat

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The ancient drawbridge  

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Fortifications around Toul

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We have tried four boulangeries and found our favourite. There is even a baguette dispensing machine near the big Cora supermarket which we couldn’t resist trying. The baguette was a little doughy for my taste but not stale or hard. You can smell the baking inside the machine. Heavenly!B001F7D6-CDEF-449F-B6D0-F0BA0C1E4378

The cathedral of St Etienne (1221-1500) dominates the town and gives a Toul the wow factor. With a Romanesque plan and Gothic construction it has a Flamboyant Gothic facade and an amazing cloister built 11th and 14th centuries, one of the largest Gothic cloisters in France.  There is a sound and light show during the summer on the facade which we will be checking out soon.C8D13FFC-A1B6-457F-9073-0525ED071164C94B26B3-1ED4-4E80-B1E6-C2676C5F8DDAC26F113C-5714-498A-A37C-C65BB458EC23

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The cloisters had some very interesting modern art sculpture 

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Wandering back streets of Toul

We’ve met some lovely people here too. Years ago Alan and I were in Paris before we had bought our boat and walked to the Arsenal port to gaze longingly at the lucky people on their boats and ended up chatting to an American couple who had a lovely barge. Here in Toul we met up with Perry and Fran again on Le Canard Qui Rit and they came over for a drink one night. We also had an aperitif with Barry and Margaret Craig on their boat one evening. It turns out they are from Havelock North and actually live in the same street Alan grew up on, Tauroa Rd. Small world is it not?

Deciding how much we liked Toul we inquired about making it our home base this year and a berth was available so we are staying in the North Eastern part of France for at least another year. There are so many sights to see here, especially if you are interested in the history of the two World Wars, but also beautiful cities and stunning architecture. The facilities are good at the port with showers and rubbish disposal and there is a boat mechanic nearby who we introduced ourselves to after a wander down the canal.

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Map of Toul. We are moored near the Porte de France.

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Silverfern amongst the jousting action.

This weekend is the 14th Juillet, France Independence or Bastille Day and we will be checking out the festivities and fireworks. Of course also there’s that small matter of France being in the World Cup Final with the playoff against Croatia on Sunday night to consider. Lord help us if France don’t win is all I’m saying about that! The cacophony of car horns when they won the semifinals went on half the night which just goes to show how much this game will mean on Sunday!

So here are the stats for this week:

Charmes to a wild mooring at PK(per km) 33: 

Engine hours: 5.7

Kms: 27

Locks: 13

PK33 to Richardmenil

Engine hours: 1.5

Kms: 4

Locks: 2

Richardmenil to Toul

Engine hours: 6

Kms: 30

Locks: 9

Lifting bridges: 1

Total this year so far

Engine hours: 65.7

Kms: 336

Locks: 117

Tunnels: 2

Lifting/swing bridges: 3

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Posted in Canal boat, Canal des Vosges, Canal Marne au Rhin, French Canal boating, Holiday 2018, Moselle, Richardménil, Toul, Water jousting in France | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

La Linge, Colmar and Strasbourg by car.

What a week we’ve had. After a few days in Epinal we decided to rent a car and go further afield. The mooring fees are really reasonable (€8 a night) so leaving Silver Fern moored up for a few extra days was a great option. I booked a Peugeot 208 from Europcar on their app for 4 days and the first thing we did was drive to the American war cemetery not far away. It was sobering as these sites always are and immaculately kept.

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The American cemetery in Epinal.

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So many white crosses with quite a few Star of David’s 

We headed up into the mountains, past 1000m, through thick forest until, turning a bend, there was a gorgeous alpine lake at Gérardmer. In winter this is a ski resort and we saw chairlifts and a luge further up. It was a stunning day and we ate our lunch on the waterfront. Spectacular and unexpected. 

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Gérardmer 

After lunch we continued our way to Le Linge high up in the Vosges Mountains, one of the sites of trench warfare between Germany and France in 1914 in what became a fierce unrelenting battle when wave after wave of mountain infantrymen laid siege to the German trenches, hidden in the forest. The German trenches are well preserved on the higher ground and we were able to walk through them. You can’t get into what’s left of the French trenches as there may be unexploded ordinance but the distance between opposing sides in some parts is only a few metres. The statistics are sad. Thousands lost their lives and neither side advanced. Between 1915 and the Armistice both sides had to be content with their positions. 

We looked around the onsite museum and watched a film about the battle. 

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Walking the German trenches

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A small but excellent museum on life in the trenches.

After that fascinating look at a terrible time in France’s history I’m glad to say we continued on to Colmar. What a stunning Alsace town with a little canal running through the old town and pretty buildings and flowers everywhere. We stayed at Hotel Quatorze right in the old town centre and had a fabulous time trying the local cuisine and wines. The Pinot Gris was outstanding. 

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A brief stop in Niedermorschwihr to check out the quirky houses.

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Colmar took my breath away.

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Interesting architecture 

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Loving it!

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The photo ops are endless…

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We hit the local covered market before we left.

The next day we drove to Ribeauville a beautiful alpine village where we had lunch and sampled more Pinot Gris at Louis Sipp’s tasting rooms, purchasing a case of their 2016 vintage. We decided we prefer it to Riesling here. 

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The name of this winemaker is so apt. We may bring some of this purchase home but I’m not making any promises!

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Sipp vineyard on the hill.

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Ribeauville  

After a walk up on the hills, surrounded by vineyards and a large Chateau, we continued down the mountains and into Strasbourg where we stayed two nights at the Hotel Gutenberg, again right in the middle of the old town near the cathedral. 

Strasbourg is much larger than Colmar but the old town is filled with the half timbered houses of this region and a great place to wander the streets. It’s biggest attraction has to be the massive Cathédrale de Notre Dame, in the evenings bathed in light and quite spectacular, inside and out. 

We ate and drank our way around this capital of Alsace and I managed to fit in a little shopping as well! The Sales are on!

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Notre Dame Cathedral, considered one of the finest examples of high or late Gotuic architecture. Construction started 1015, completed 1439.

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Research. Taking one for the team. The beer was gut!

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Finally it was time to drive back to the boat and some eating and drinking rehab (not really). Going back through the mountains we stopped at a couple of war memorials including one to those that lost their lives either escaping the Germans or hiding and assisting escapees aka The Resistance. Their bravery is commemorated in this Raon-sur-Plaine memorial. 

Back in Epinal our boat was still floating, always a bonus, haha. Actually this waterway is slowly getting shallower as the temperatures push 33° and early this morning we untied and carefully retraced our steps along the Epinal Embranchement, grazing something on the bottom only once. Result!

We headed North along the Canal des Vosges, continuing to descend, through 16 locks in about 26kms. The thermometer on the deck hit 38° with the canopy down, a necessity due to the low lock bridges. But that’s in the sun so it’s probably around 33° and there was lovely breeze as we cruise at 8kph, the speed limit on canals. After 6 hours we found a spot to moor in Charmes, tying half on a concrete edge and half on the bank. There are about 10 boats and 25 camping cars all along the banks of the canal so there’s not much privacy to be had. At €9 per night it’s not a bad spot and we recc’ed the town finding the closest boulangerie for tomorrow.

So here are the stats for the last week, keeping in mind we had 4 days away from the boat.

Epinal to Charmes:

Engine hours: 6.2

Kms: 26

Locks: 16

Total this year:

Engine hours: 52.5

Kms: 275

Locks: 93

Tunnels: 2

Lifting/swing bridges:2

Posted in France, French Canal boating | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Scey-sur-Saône to Epinal. Stunning!

0E260AE9-6021-4C55-91CD-133E1C03E370After the lovely setting of Scey-sur-Saône we meandered up the Petit Saône past Port-sur-Saône without stopping and continued on to Fourecourt. There is a small port here, very small, but they charge quite high, I thought. €15 with power and water. There is a capitainerie/restaurant but no other facilities and the moorings aren’t in good condition although perfectly safe. The village has a church, bien sûr, but it was locked up so no peeking inside. 

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Port de Fouchécourt

The next morning we headed up to Corre, the end of the Saône, which at this point is tres petit, and start of the Canal des Vosges. 

The scenery is mainly forests, lots of shade which is lovely as we have had lots of sunshine. The storms are gone. At least for now. 

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The Saone now becoming very petit.

Corre has a supermarché and a boulangerie/tabac/lotto/grocery store. The visitors quay is really nice with shade. The marina is quite big and there is a restaurant that has a big ice-cream menu. Ask Alan!

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We stayed in Corre for 2 nights and utilised the power and water (€12pn) to catch up on washing. The hot weather meant our sheets dried within half an hour of hanging them from the back deck. 

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Excellent visitors pontoon in Corre plus an Intermarché within walking distance

At Corre we left the river behind and headed into the Canal des Vosges, still climbing in the locks heading upwards to the summit where there is a long stretch (11km) without locks until we met the staircase of 15 locks before the turnoff at Epinal.  

At 8.45am we pulled in behind a British boat, both tied alongside to a vnf barge and waited for the lockeeper to arrive, which he eventually did (9.20am). He must have needed 2 espressos that morning. Generally the VNF who handle the waterways of France do an excellent job so we’ll forgive them a little delay. He gave us our telecommand, a remote control that works like a garage door opener, except it opens the locks. It works every well although we did have one issue. Our travelling companions very kindly waited for us in one lock, possibly too long as the green light went out and was replaced by double red lights, never a good sign. Sue on the other boat called VNF from the lock control box and a very cheerful man came out and reset the lock. No dramas!

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The pretty Canal des Vosges

We called it a day in Fontenoy-Le-Château, a very pretty town with a good quay run by a hireboat company. The Château (built 10th century and partial distraction in the Thirty Years War 1635) is in ruins now but the view from up on the hill is great and the mairie are working on the ruins to make them more stable. The town has a good boulangerie, epiciere, a tea shop (only open 2pm-6pm) and a pharmacy. There’s a school and very pretty flowers decorating the town. A very pleasant stay.

The next day after checking out the ‘market’ which consisted of one small fruit and vegetable stall, we headed out further along the canal, 19km to be precise, and 20 locks later we tied up on the side of the bank for the night, knackered after a lock every km. The spot we chose was lovely and quiet with plenty of shade.

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Just couldn’t get a rope on in this lock, too deep, so up the ladder I went.

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Needed a drink after that.

Wednesday, 20th June, dawned a superb day, crystal clear blue sky and very warm. It was another big day, 18 km and 14 locks and we chose a beautiful wild mooring spot, coincidentally very close to Kiwi barge owners John and Rosemary Stoppard on their boat Petronella. We met them them the year we were looking for a boat in France and they invited us on board for a chat which was invaluable to us and they have been generous with their knowledge and time to lots of NZ boat owners in Europe. We had a lovely evening’s aperos with them on a gorgeous warm evening. 

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John and Rosemary Stoppard with yours truly.

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One of those stunning evenings that make the hard work in the locks worthwhile.

The next day we tackled the staircase of locks before the turnoff to Epinal. 14 locks of 3m depth each in 8kms but at least we had now reached the summit of the Vosges and were heading downhill, an easier process in the lock than climbing. It’s all automated once you start so it’s quite a quick process, about three and a half hours. We waved goodbye to Petronella as we turned off the Vosges canal and onto the embranchment to Epinal. This 3km offshoot can be shallow and in the past sometimes too shallow but we stayed in the middle and made it to the city without touching the bottom. Hurrah! There is a long quay with power and water alongside a pretty park but it was full so we grabbed a small pontoon on the roadside and settled down to an evening of listening to the music playing all around the town as it was the Festival of Music in France that night, the summer solstice. 

The next morning we moved over to the park side when a boat left and are now intending to stay a week or so to fully enjoy this beautiful and historic city. Friday night there was a Bio market (organic to us), Saturday the Army set up early on the quay and hosted a marathon and today, Sunday, there is a large brocante (antique) market all day.

The spoils of the bio market

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I can’t see the NZ Army band agreeing to wear these outfits…

We spent yesterday walking up to the old fortified Château on the hill, exploring the old town and having a lovely lunch at the Brasserie du Commerce in the Place des Vosges with a look around the Basilique Saint-Maurice (11th-13th century) and a very informative visit to the Tourist Office. There are so many places we would like to visit in this region we may hire a car next week to make things easier. 

Here are some of the sights from from Epinal.

That evening we had drinks with Bob and Philippa on Amigo and then at 10.30pm we walked back into the old town to see the Son et Lumière light and sound show on the old buildings in the square. 268E30D2-F271-460C-8474-94CB7D347ECD

So that’s what we’ve been up to in the last week or so. The weather has turned cool with a very brisk breeze but I see the forecast is for another warm spell next week with temperatures hotting up to 30+. The canal water levels are questionable as always so we will keep an eye on those while we decide whether to leave the boat here in Epinal and take a car further into the mountains and hope the we can get out of this one way embranchement when the time comes!

Stats for this week:

Scey-sur-Saône to Fouchécourt 

Engine hours: 3.5

Kms: 26

Locks: 3

Fouchécourt to Corre

Engine hours: 3.3

Kms: 26

Locks: 3

Corre to Fontenoy-Le-Château 

Engine hours: 6

Kms: 22

Locks: 12

Lifting bridges: 1

Fontenoy-le-Château to Wild mooring c.PK106

Engine hours: 5.7

Kms: 19

Locks: 20

Swing bridges: 1

c.PK106 to c.PK 88

Engine hours: 5.5

Kms: 18

Locks: 14

c.PK88 to Epinal

Engine hours: 3.8

Kms: 8

Locks: 14.

Total this year so far:

Engine hours: 46.3

Kms: 249

Locks: 77

Tunnels: 2

Lifting/swing bridges 2

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Posted in Canal boat, Canal des Vosges, France, French Canal boating, Holiday 2018, Petite Saône | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gray to Scey-sur-Saône. Stormy weather.

B0BC8C75-08FC-4B83-86FA-04FAD809E5B0Gray was such a convenient (and free) mooring we stayed for six days. It’s a big town with an Intermarché Super and Brico only five minutes walk away and free power and water if you moor close enough to an unused power point (there aren’t enough to go around). We tried two different boulangeries’ baguettes but surprisingly found the most traditional artisanal and delicious bread from the supermarket-attached bakery. I’m not sure that’s happened to us before!

Historically Gray was founded in the 7th century but it’s fortificatons were destroyed by Louis XIV but has been an important river port since the Middle Ages. The name Gray is, according to Wikipedia, believed to have come from ‘an old landed estate in its vicinity owned by a family with Gallo-Roman origins bearing the name “Gradus” cognate with the Celtic “Grady” meaning “illustrious” or “Noble”’. You’re welcome.

We had some amazing storms, one woke us at 2am with an incredible crash of thunder and lightening directly overhead and the power went off. Just a circuit breaker so all ok the next morning. 5273C552-4FC7-4915-B794-A11C0E9E6CD2

We met a lovely Kiwi couple, Paul and Elise on Anatole and enjoyed a couple of Apéros with them on two nights. They also joined us to watch the All Blacks beat Les Bleus on Saturday morning. Unfortunately we asked at four bars if they would be playing it and it was a ‘non’ all round so we watched it on the ipad, the four of us peering into it to catch the nuances of the game. Good result for the ABs. We enjoyed it and especially the excellent company. 

We spent a few days in Gray in 2014 and I wrote a whole post, incredibly eloquently of course, about the Baron-Martin Museum and their impressive collection of art (both inside and throughout their expansive garden) with amazing photos to go with it but sadly that post has completely disappeared from my blog, gone to join blog posts in the sky (not the Cloud unfortunately). No idea what happened there but you’ll just have to take my word for it as, although we walked up there and enjoyed the garden and views of Gray, we didn’t go inside. 

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Basilique Notre-Dame built 1478-1559

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View of Gray from the Gardens of the Musée Baron Martin

I love the florists here. There displays are always so pretty. We also found a Maori tattoo studio. Random!

 

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View of the town quay through the 18th century stone bridge.

After leaving Gray we headed upstream for three hours, through three locks and a couple of open flood gates and at lunch time decided we’d done enough for the day so tied up on the side of the river with cornfields on one side and reeds on the other.

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This looks like a good spot.

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Perfect spot for the night. Apart from the swarming bugs but they were here first after all. Time for an aperitif.

Alan got a bit of exercise in with an hour’s bike ride while I guarded the boat (aka lay about reading). I have been loving doing yoga first thing in the morning on the deck and the next morning I had an audience of swans, probably thinking “wtf is this crazy boat lady doing?” (In French of course). 0FEB6F85-4F76-4E63-A45C-7CEBB193CC40

The weather forecast and meteo notice warned of a nasty storm coming this way so we headed upstream, through a lock with an eclusier who passed down a hook for our ropes as the depth was 3.6m and then after waiting for 15mins through a short tunnel (640m) and into the Port Savoyeux, a base for hire company Saône Plaisance.

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Port-sur-Savoyeux

The place filled up with hire boats from all over. We met a friendly Swiss man and a couple of Brits. The port has a cafe and a shop selling local produce. We walked the 900m into the village of Seveux which has the river running through it. There is a school, maire (townhall), and shop combining boulangerie and epiciere (bakery and grocery). An old wash house, central to life in villages in the 18th and 19th century, has been renovated and flower enhanced. This one has an animal trough as well. Architects used to compete in the different styles of these lavoirs making them interesting to compare. D811565C-400B-4E4D-AC7C-6B01A8CF2A32This is a rural area so we are seeing lots of cropping, cows and mills. we even saw some sheep for the first time. It’s very pretty.C45D3D53-6BD7-4EA0-8196-9479A8E2024D

We were still waiting for that big storm to arrive and in the meantime we got our moneys worth by catching up on washing, house/boat work and watching the poor hireboaters banging and crashing their way into the port. Alan was out there yesterday in the rain helping catch ropes and hauling boats in. What a good man!

After two days in Savoyeux we headed up the derivation (when the river is too shallow there is a mini canal built for navigation and there are lots on the Petit Saône) and back onto the river. The weather was cold and the wind was coming in directly from the North. We stuck at it for 35kms, 6 locks and another tunnel, passing a gorgeous chateau on the hill in Ray-sur-Saône.

We will be coming back this way and plan to have a closer look but it was originally built on this site in the 8th or 10th century (depends where you get your info from) but was distroyed and rebuilt around the 16-17th century and there has been a fortified Chateau there ever since. The site is in an excellent stratigic position and was the biggest in Franche-Comté.

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You can tell by my polar fleece the wind was chilly. 

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Wine honey or cherries? The lockeeper has it all. We bought a Beaujolais which improved the more you drank. 

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The embranchement to the Tunnel de St-Albin was narrow and winding.

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Back in the day crew pulled their barges through using the chains on either side of the tunnel  

We pulled into the quay in Scey-sur-Saône. There is an option to moor in the Locaboat hire base but further on and down a short stretch of the river is a much nicer option. €4 per night with no facilities it is still well worth it. A pretty little town and good tie up rings.

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View of our mooring at Scey-sur-Saône from the bridge. There is a small hydroelectric power station here. 

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Scey-sur-Saône is a pretty town with some amazing houses. 

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This roof might need a little tlc.

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Sitting back enjoying the sun. Time for a top-up.

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Doesn’t get much better than this #LifeofRiley 

So that’s it for another week or so. We are just meandering along this year with no fixed plans other than to head north east and enjoy the ride.

Our latest stats:

Grey to PK300 (somewhere north of Quitteur

Engine hours: 3

Kms: 17

Locks: 3

PK300 to Savoyeux

Engine hours: 2

Kms: 14

Locks: 1

Tunnels: 1 (640m)

Savoyeux to Scey-sur-Saône

Engine hours: 4.5

Kms: 35

Locks: 6

Tunnels: 1 (680m)

Total this year

Engine hours: 18.5

Kms: 130

Locks: 14

Tunnels: 2

Posted in French Canal boating, Gray, Savoyeux, Scey-sur-Saône | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Auxonne, Pontailler-sur-Saône, Mantoche and Gray. Stormy weather.

Auxonne is a great spot for a few days. The Port Royale has very nice moorings but quite pricey. For us €14 per night. There is a large military presence here (Napoleon did his training here back in the day) which must help keep the town busy. There is a lovely big church and plenty of the usual shops. 

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Silver Fern in the Port Royale marina, Auxonne.

We rode our bikes out along the Saône one day and when we came back to the boat we found there had been a fuel leak in the marina. The gendarmes in charge of such things came though and decided the marina needed to be closed off from the river to curtail the damage. They created a barrage/boom and for the next day and a half the Capitain of the port, John (an Aussie), motored his little boat up and down squirting (I’m guessing) detergent into the water to soak up the fuel.

It turns out one of the boats moored across from us had intended to top up his water but accidentally put his hose in the fuel tank instead! The water overflowed sending diesel out into the marina and on to the river. The couple had to front up to the police and explain themselves. It was an accident and so they weren’t fined, lucky for them although the thought of what they will need to do now to sort out their fuel tank doesn’t make them lucky at all.

By Thursday afternoon the water had cleared and the barrage came down and we left on Friday morning heading upstream and north along the Petit Saône.

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I’m confused…

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An arty shot?

There is only one lock between Auxonne and our next stop of Pontailler-sur-Saône and we shared it with a rental boat holding eight young German guys on a boys trip. They were very nice and were even wearing life jackets in the lock. Very responsible. They were also drinking beer at 10.30am but still. That could explain the life jackets though. 

Two hours later we arrived in Pontailler-sur-Saône and tied up on the quay. There is no power or water but it’s a lovely shady spot and the town is very pretty. Good baguettes in the boulangerie too. The Vieille Saône (Old Saône) runs through the town. 

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Pontailler-sur-Saône is a lovely little town with a great boulangerie and a busy restaurant.

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A man on a mission  

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The Old Saône running through Pontailler-sur-Saône

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A beautiful little town.

We found an old renovated landing platform. The wooden quay can go up or down depending on the height of the river.

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An impressive town hall with a lovely leafy garden at the rear.

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Very French colours.

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We had the quay to ourselves for a day. 

Alan continued his scrubbing and re-oiling the deck while I supervised. After a new coat of oil the teak looks great. F145C738-1773-4159-8693-9DDF91A9FF77

0C3C90B9-1664-4DFC-9643-4D0FFB6E8064We stayed in Pontailler-sur-Saône for three nights using our generator to top up the electronics. On Saturday there was a market. Actually it wasn’t great, mainly the usual clothing stalls, but we did pick up some salad veges at one stand. Also available were rotisserie chickens and pizza. I chatted to the vege guy who warned us of a storm brewing on Monday (but it actually arrived early on Sunday evening).

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An underwhelming Saturday market

We walked down to the local camping ground where there is a little beach and restaurant.

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Local beach. Not sure why it was partially fenced off.

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A stunning evening. No filter needed.

We were shaken about on the quay by the wake from some very annoying speed boats flooring it as they passed us but it’s a small price to pay for such a lovely setting. We mostly had the place to ourselves until Sunday when the quay filled up. A hilarious Englishman shouted profanities at the aforementioned speed boats and then came over to apologise. He said he always asks Kiwis if they’ve heard of Onga Onga (he has a family connection to the settlement) and no one ever had until he found out Alan knows the place (it’s in the wopwops of Hawkes Bay) which astounded this guy, even more so when fellow Kiwis John and Rosemary on Petronella pulled in and they knew it too. Small small world!

Later on we had some more fun when a french family lost their ball in the water and we tried to retrieve it off the side of the boat. We couldn’t reach it so one of the french guys stripped off to his undies and waded in to retrieve it. We handed him a towel to dry off which he was very grateful for having only the smart shirt and dress trousers he was wearing. It kept us amused.  

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Watching swans taking off and landing also amuses me. They are so clumsy!

We spotted a grey heron nest way up on the top of a tall tree on the other side of the river and spent the late afternoon watching mum feeding her four large chicks. Later on another storm hit with rolling thunder that rumbled continuously for an hour. The rain hit and the wind turned cold and strong but it all passed by fairly quickly. The forecast is all about storms at the moment. The VNF put out a météo alert for Monday night, expecting a violent storm with heavy rain, hail and squally winds!

On Monday 4 June we decided to move on up the Saône into the area called Haute-Saône having left the Côte d’Or behind. We left at 9am but by 9.30 one of the engine warning lights lit up and we shut the engine off and floated in the middle of the river until Alan topped up the coolant and we were good to go again. Never a dull moment. 

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Along a derivation of the Saône, built for boating where the Saône is too shallow to navigate. That’s a lock at the end.

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We cruised past the entrance to the Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne. We headed up there to Paris last year.

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A doer-upper?

Three hours later we stopped in Mantoche, a village with a good quay although the depth is marginal unless you tie up at the upstream end, which we did.

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Mooring at Mantoche

After buying a very ordinary baguette from the little épicerie (a depot de pain, meaning they don’t make it themselves and I’d guess it wasn’t from an artisanal boulangerie) and having had lunch we decided to carry on to Gray, only another hour away. 

On arrival in Gray we were lucky enough to grab a spot on the town quay with free power and water! I see lots of washing in our immediate future. Might go all out and wash my hair (it’s long and takes ages to wash, using up precious water resources). There was even talk of Alan shaving! 

It’s still the little things in life that give you the most enjoyment, isn’t it?

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All tied up for the evening in Gray.

Stats for the week:

Auxonne to Pontailler-sur-Saône

Engine hours: 2.5

Kms: 18

Locks: 1

Pontailler-sur-Saône to Gray

Engine hours: 4

Kms: 32

Locks: 2

Year to Date:

Engine hours: 9

Kms: 64

Locks: 4

Posted in Auxonne, Burgundy, Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne, France, French Canal boating, French markets, Mantoche, Petite Saône, Pontailler-sur-Saône, Saone river, Speaking French, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

St Jean de Losne to Auxonne. The sun came out.

So we’ve been in our home port of St-Jean-de-Losne for two weeks now and we were planning on heading out on our next adventure today but although we finally have our water pump issue sorted at long last (am I tempting fate?), and we’ve caught up with all the usual suspects (this is a Kiwi boating enclave, outnumbering all other imports and very sociable and friendly), the weather has turned cool and wet again.

Last time I wrote the weather wasn’t very pleasant but in the last week we have enjoyed fabulous warm temperatures and stunning blue skies interspersed with stormy thunder and lightening and the odd bit of rain. Muggy too. Last night there was quite a storm with squally rain and a stunning electric display in the sky and the temperatures dropped considerably. This morning we woke to a rainy and rather cool day so we were tossing up whether to leave our cosy home port or to head out. In the afternoon the rain stopped and the sun came out so we decided to go.

This seems to be the year of the dodgy water pump as it has been a common fault in some of the other boats here. Our issue turned out to be the hot water bleed off valve and once we had it replaced the pump has stopped turning itself on every six minutes! It’s quite revolutionary for us to not have to listen to the stupid thing going so often! What an amazing difference. It’s the little things 👍🏼

The fine weather has meant I have been doing my yoga on the deck every morning which I’m loving. It’s so enjoyable to practise while listening to the birds chirping and being on the water is very restful, albeit a little tricky with the balancing postures! On Saturday we headed to the book exchange, offloading about 20 books we had read last year and picking up another haul that should keep us going for a while. That evening we had a drink with some of the Kiwi and Aussie contingent here in the local Bar du Port. We also picked up some cheapish duck breasts from the Lidl which I pan fried and served with a mandarin and ginger sauce.  A good day!

So off we went in the afternoon to Auxonne. One lock and about two and a half hours. Our vague plan from Auxonne is to continue on the Petit Saone to the Canal des Voges which runs from Corre, through Epinal and on up towards Nancy and the Moselle River. From there who knows? We may continue north to Metz and further up to the German and Luxembourg border. There are so many variables in this boating lifestyle it never pays to make any firm plans as we have found many times in the past. But that’s half the fun of it and we feel lucky that we can go with the flow (pun intended) and see how we feel every morning. There’s no rush!

So we are on our way. A bientôt.

Big stats for the week:

St Jean de Losne to Auxonne

Engine hours: 2.5

Kms: 14

Locks: 1

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A storm on its way.

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A weed eater trying to get on top of the mess in St Jean de Losne port area.

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Off to do some shopping. Note the colour coordination. Oh yeah. 

Bit of engine work. Who knew Alan could fold himself up like a pretzel!

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Walking along the Saône River towards St Jean de Losne from the train station.

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Cute tug boat in the lock.

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One of my favourite places in St Jean de Losne. The book exchange.

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I couldn’t resist taking a pic of this cute letterbox.

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Finally back on the river Saône. The adventure begins!

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The first lock of the year. Heading onto the Dérivation d’Auxonne, a couple of hours north of St Jean de Losne on the Petit Saône.

 

 

 

Posted in Auxonne, Canal boat, France, French Canal boating, Holiday 2018, Petite Saône, Saone river, Travel, weed eater | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Forget Spring. It feels like Winter.

Apparently we missed Summer. It was lovely but only lasted a week. Since we arrived in France it’s back to rainy cold days with thunderstorms and lightening. I love a good storm but this winter blast is no fun. I’m happy to say though that there is light at the end of the tunnel, well sunshine anyway and we are hoping for a nice weekend.

Our flights went very well with just a small hiccup in Christchurch over visas which was sorted out easily and our first flight to Singapore consisted of two meals and four movies. At dinner on the second sector (after 6 hours on the ground), we took our sleeping pills and both enjoyed a six hour snooze. What an awesome feeling to wake up and find only three hours until landing!

Once in Paris we collected our Europcar rental (a very sporty Citroen C3) and drove straight down to St-Jean-de-Losne, a three hour drive that took four hours due to heavy traffic. The trains were on strike and every man and his dog took to the roads instead. Many trucks presumably loaded with all the freight that didn’t go by train. It poured with rain the whole way so we were very happy to finally arrive after our marathon 41 hour trip.

Silver Fern was looking very sad when we lugged our bags aboard. For the first time we have had real issues with mildew inside with some of the curtains really stained, but luckily the bed linen was fine and we were able to make up the bed and enjoy a proper sleep that night. Bliss. (I did need to wear thermal leggings, merino top and possum wool socks to stay warm though). Brrrr!

Since then we have been catching up with boatee friends, stocking up on all the major food groups (wine, cheese and chocolate) and we took the car down to Chalon-sur-Saone to buy a new Captain’s chair since our old one isn’t up to the challenge anymore. It came as a flat pack so I’m looking forward to posting a few fun pics on here when we attempt to put it together. Good times ahead.

We found a couple of NZ wines in the local Intermarché…

 

No idea what they taste like but at NZ$8.50 it’s a bargain. However we didn’t come all the way to France to buy NZ wine!

Yesterday we also bought some geraniums and herbs for the pots which is always fun and we now have a stock of thyme, chives and marjoram. Still need parsley and basil.54AD10A2-45F9-410E-A96D-9E9512916DB8

The sun came out that afternoon. Hurrah!

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Today (Friday, May 18) we drove the car back to Dijon and visited the market before taking a bus back to St Jean de Losne. The market is amazing! Everything you could wish for. We stocked up on mustard, it being Dijon and all, and other items of deliciousness from Edmond Fallot, La Moutarderie.

The weather has turned out lovely finally, and luckily, as we had to walk back from the train station where the bus dropped us off. I did ask the driver if he could stop in the middle of town but got a definate Non! Nice day for a walk anyway. This afternoon is all about water blasting the exterior, washing away all the dirt and cobwebs!

Here are a few pics from today’s trip to Dijon. First up coffee. Priorities. Then a few mustard and alcohol related purchases.

Dijon Friday market  they have an amazing indoor farmers market. Outside stalls are for clothing and brocante (flea market stuff). Loved the umbrella stall!

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I couldn’t help adding these two pics of the arty loos one gets to use for 80c at the Dijon Gare train station. 😜 Madams on the right, Monsieurs on the left.

Finally the walk back from the Gare in St Jean de Losne along the banks of the Saone, back to the boat. In the lock we found a pusher lowering from the Canal de Bourgogne onto the river and into port to push a broken boat somewhere. So cute!9CB7CC0B-4050-4871-9A63-16F3C2CA376A1CCD1DF4-F06E-4A12-9C59-01B5AFD943AD

Until the next time,

À bientôt!

Posted in Burgundy, Canal boat, Chalon Sur Saone, Christchurch, Dijon, France, French Canal boating, French markets, highs and lows of living on a boat, Holiday 2018, New Zealand, Saone river, St Jean de Losne | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment