Cyclone Debbie, Cyclone Cook? Time to head North!

Daylight Saving has just finished here in New Zealand and, quelle horreur, I had to turn a lamp on at 5.15pm! Speaking of turning, the weather! Our Summer was almost a non-event this year and Autumn also seems to be MIA. Then two cyclones hit! Outrageous! Right, that’s it. It’s time to fly away to (hopefully) warmer climes.

Silver Fern has wallowed away the Northern Winter in the water at Blanquarts Marina in St Jean de Losne in deepest Burgundy, France. Checking the weather over there we’ve noticed it was a very cold winter in Europe so fingers crossed the old girl’s held up ok.
So what plans do we have up our sleeves? Plans that, bien sûr, could change depending on what the weather gods have in store as we learned in the last three years!
The first part of this year’s adventure is relatively straightforward. We fly out of Christchurch on May 8 to Paris via Singapore on SingaporeAir with about 7 hours on the ground in between flights. We’ve booked our usual hotel beside the Gare de Lyon in Paris for 3 nights to get over the jet lag and of course walk for hours around that beautiful city, stopping for café et a little déjeuner, peut-être. Can’t wait. Because Paris.
From there we take the TGV to Dijon, pick up a hire car (Europcar) and drive to the boat in St Jean de Losne. After a week or so of provisioning and fixing any problems that may have arisen over the Winter, hopefully we’ll head off up the Canals and rivers towards Paris.

Cruising up the Seine, past the Tour Eiffel and into the Arsenal marina will be amazing and a personal dream for me. From there we are hoping to carry on North to the Somme area and then back to Burgundy before heading home at the beginning of October.
It’s an ambitious trip and we will have to crunch the numbers and see if it’s doable. The last thing we want is to put any time pressure on ourselves. Hurrying is not compatible with canal boating. At 8kms an hour impatience is rather counter productive and not what we’re about so we will be checking out distances and numbers of locks and playing it by ear.

So those are the plans. We are almost ready to go. Now to address the REALLY big issue.

What am I going to wear? 😳😱

🇾🇪✈️🗼

Posted in Christchurch, France, French Canal boating, Holiday 2017, New Zealand, Paris, Paris, Singapore, Travel | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Home again!

We have been home now for over a month and France seems a very long time ago. We are loving being back in our apartment in Chrischurch, New Zealand. The Spring weather has been challenging, a lot cooler than last year. We have had to contend with more earthquakes, although it has been further north of the South Island and Christchurch has come through pretty unscathed. From Hanmer though to Kaikoura and on up to Wellington things dont look good. We understand the trauma this has caused and really feel for those whose homes and businesses have been devastated.

But let’s look at the year that was, at least for us.

We travelled a lot this year and loved every minute of it. If we had to choose the top highlight it has to be our house sit in Cornwall. It was a wonderful experience and we were sad to say goodbye to the lovely dogs and cats entrusted to our care. And Cornwall. Wow, what a gorgeous part of the world! But it was all wonderful and we are very appreciative to have had such an amazing time and to be able to enjoy our nomadic lifestyle.

I have already booked our flights for next year. Christchurch to Paris via Singapore, over early May, and home at the beginning of October. We are thinking of taking the boat up to Paris and on further north. Who knows.

But until then it’s time to enjoy our amazing home of New Zealand in the Summertime. See you again in 2017 for our next adventure!

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Posted in Christchurch, Holiday 2016, New Zealand | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Au’revoir and Kia Ora. It’s time to chase the Summer south.

Autumn has definitely arrived. Here is our local heron on pontoon duty in front our our boat. Loving the colours!

Autumn has definitely arrived. Here is our local heron on pontoon duty in front our boat. Loving the colours!

It’s that time of year, folks. We have only three more days in France and then homeward bound (to our other home because Silver Fern really does feel like a home now).
Someone said it doesn’t feel like we had been gone for long but since leaving Christchurch in early May we have been to Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic (or should I say Czechia), Cornwall, Devon, Farnham, Paris and Normandy. Then onto the boat we traversed the Yonne River, the Canal de Bourgogne, the Saône river, down to Lyon and up to Auxonne, as well as the Canal Rhône au Rhin/Doub River. It feels like we left NZ a long time ago.

This years boat cruising totals are:

773 kms, 263 locks and 145 engine hours.

On the Canal de Bourgogne alone we traversed 189 locks in 242kms. No wonder I have a sore arm!

So we’ve been pretty busy this year but now it’s time to start the process of winterising Silver Fern before we depart on Saturday. She is staying in the water this year and there is lots to do including eating up any food that won’t keep, hence a big pasta cook up. It’s amazing what you can throw in a pasta dish, even grated Morbier cheese tastes good on top. I cut all the best bits from our herb garden to throw in as well before the rest get binned.

Big pasta cook up.

Big pasta cook up.

Tasted pretty good.

Tasted pretty good.

All the sheets and towels need washing and drying before we go.

Lots of laundry to do before we tuck Silver Fern up for the winter.

Lots of laundry to do before we tuck Silver Fern up for the winter.

The Bimini is coming down to be stored in the V berth.

The weather has turned chilly. Overnight temperatures have been dipping as low as 5° and the blustery wind is cold. I’ve been reduced to sleeping in thermals as our cabin is near the waterline and so particularly chilly at night. This is all excellent as we can now look forward to our Southern Hemisphere summer in NZ!

We needed to top up our diesel tank one last time so we had a quick jaunt out onto the river on Tuesday. Although really chilly it was so nice to have one last potter up the river before we tied up onto the fuel pontoon and filled ‘er up.

Captain Hodges at the helm taking us out of the port de plaisance one last time this year.

Captain Hodges at the helm taking us out of the port de plaisance one last time this year.

Shameless selfie.

Shameless selfie.

On Saturday lunchtime we need to get to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and, bizarrely, we will take a train from St Jean de Losne south to Bourg-en-Bresse, change to another south bound train, arriving in Lyon where we board a north bound TGV to CDG airport. There were a few other options but they either required an overnight stop in Dijon with a 7am train departure the next morning or hiring a car. We chose the train so we can relax and watch the world go by in reasonable comfort. The downside is lugging our luggage (so that’s where that word comes from!) on and off three different trains but that’s what husbands are for, right?

Saturday night we’ll stay at the Novotel in the Terminal and board our flight to Singapore at 12pm the next day. 13 hours later we hit Singapore (hopefully not literally) where we have a 13 hour layover so we’ve booked 6 hours at the Ambassador Hotel in the departure lounge for a shower and a lie down before back on board at 7.45pm for our last leg of this rather long journey, 9 hours 45mins to Christchurch arriving at 10.30am Tuesday local time.

Phew. I feel tired just thinking about it! But it’s all worth it and we are really looking forward to seeing the kids and grandkids and catching up with friends.

Here are a few pics from our last few days in St Jean de Losne.

Yarn-bombing is all the rage en France at the moment!

Yarn-bombing is all the rage en France at the moment!

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Too far?

Birthday lunch for me this week.

Birthday lunch for me this week and no I didn’t eat all those frites.

Dragon boats ready to battle at the champs last weekend.

Dragon boats ready to battle at the champs last weekend.

When dragon boating meets yard bombing beautiful things happen. Ok weird things happen.

When dragon boating meets yard bombing beautiful things happen. Ok weird things happen. Clever though, hein?

Bisous and Kia Ora

xxx

Posted in Burgundy, Canal boat, France, French Canal boating, Holiday 2016, Paris, Saone river, St Jean de Losne, Travel, Yarn bombing | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

A little trip with friends and it is time to think about leaving.

Things didn’t start well. The weather was horrible, cold and wet, when our friends Debbie and Lloyd arrived on Saturday, September 17th, so we delayed our proposed trip up to Dole until Monday. Instead, on Sunday, they drove us to Château du Clos de Vougeot near Nuit-Saint-George, where in 1110 the monks of Citeaux Abbey started a domain that continued to produce wine until the end of WW2. It is very well restored and an interesting visit. Twice yearly they hold Le Tastevinage, when the jury made up of 250 ‘committed wine professionals’ gather in the Great Cellar to taste and answer these questions, “Does this wine reflect its appellation and vintage? Will it age well?” and “Would I be happy to offer a bottle to a friend?”. I know a few people who would like to join that committee!

We also drove to Domain Romanée Conti for a look at the tiny vineyard that produces one of the most expensive wine in the world. You can pay €10,000 a bottle in a restaurant. You can. I won’t.

Vosne-Romanée

Vosne-Romanée

The famous grapes. I wonder how much each of these will be worth.

The famous grapes. I wonder how much each of these will be worth.

Stunning landscape. Shame about the rain.

Stunning landscape. Shame about the rain.                 image

Back in the day...

Back in the day…

Chateau Clos de Vougeot

Chateau Clos de Vougeot today.

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Chateau Clos de Vougeot

Chateau Clos de Vougeot

On Monday the rain had stopped so we headed off up the river and onto the Canal du Rhône au Rhin, collecting our automatic lockdoor opener along the way. 9 locks later, having passed through the ‘Technologically Risky’ zone where a huge Solvay factory produces nasty chemicals like hydrochloric acid, bleach and all kinds of other lovely things (if a siren sounds you must hold your breath and get the hell out of there!), we arrived in stunning Dole.

Fabulous view of The Collegiale Notre-dame Basilica, Dole, and our little bateau in the foreground.

Fabulous view of The Collegiale Notre-dame Basilica, Dole, and our little bateau in the foreground.

We stopped at Dole for two nights. It’s such a beautiful town and one I waxed lyrically about (well, I like to think so) in 2014 so check out my earlier blog posts for the low down on Dole. We had dinner out one night and Lloyd cooked duck from the market the following night, along with a yummy cheesecake Debbie made for dessert. Delicious!

Dole

Dole

Market time

Market time

A few pics from a wander around Dole.

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On Wednesday the weather was lovely, the sun was shining.

Heading out of Dole, bound for Rochefort

Heading out of Dole, bound for Rochefort

We moved on up the canal to Rochefort, just an hour and a half away. It’s a 2 boat mooring with no electricity available but the scenery is beautiful with cliffs on one side of the river and a weir on the other. We walked up the hill for an awesome view of the Doubs river and surrounding countryside. This spot is a real favourite of ours. We brought out the bbq and cooked up sausages for dinner and watched the stars come out before the chill forced us indoors. It is definitely Autumn!

Stunning views from the hilltop in Rochefort.

Stunning views from the hilltop in Rochefort.

If you look really closely you can just see Silver Fern down below.

If you look really closely you can just see Silver Fern down below.

Thursday September 22 dawned sunny but very chilly and the river was shrouded in mist.

We woke to mist.

We woke to mist.

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Debbie and Lloyd rode our bikes back to Dole while we sailed back. I accidentally pushed the wrong button on our lock door remote control, causing the lock to set the wrong way, meaning I had to contact VNF to send a little man to fix it. Oops. He was an extremely cheerful man and we laughed gaily at my stupidity. He showed me how to fix the problem if it happened again and after a discussion about our on board herb garden we were on our way again.

We picked up our friends and the bikes at the lock in Dole and continued down towards the Saône river. The third to last lock, however, displayed two red lights meaning the lock was out of order. We nosed into the bank and staked up to wait. The VNF guy was clearing a lot of ‘herbes’ or weeds from around the lock gates, obviously blocking them. Eventually we were off again, dropped off our remote control at the last lock and headed back into the Saône and up to Auxonne.

Back onto the Saône river.

Back onto the Saône river.

Two nights in the Auxonne marina allowed us to peruse the Vendredi (Friday) market and Debbie and Lloyd to do some sightseeing. There is a military school here that Napoleon attended, apparently he was particularly good at maths! There was a market on but not a lot of produce. I guess it’s coming to the end of the season

Aperos on the deck in Auxonne.

Aperos on the deck in Auxonne.

Sunset in Auxonne. Notice the strange piece of a rainbow on the left.

Sunset in Auxonne. Notice the strange piece of a rainbow on the left.

We were adopted by a tiny ginger and white cat who made himself at home in the sun on the aft deck.

New crew member.

New crew member.

On our last morning we could hear him crying and along the pontoon he limped, soaked through having somehow fallen into the water. He had dragged himself up into the swim platform of a nearby boat and was drenched and shivering. Poor little guy. We wrapped him in a towel, dried him off and fed him. After he had finished some warm milk and had time in the sun we had to say au revoir and left him sitting on the pontoon watching us forlornly. If we lived in Europe full time he’d be coming with us but sadly we fly home to NZ in two weeks. Still feel horrible leaving him there, not knowing if he had a home to go to. 😪

This picture breaks my heart.

This picture breaks my heart.

We cruised back down the Saône to our home port, St Jean de Losne, and today we waved goodbye to Lloyd and Debbie as they headed back to Normandy. It was lovely having them on board and getting to share our adventures with them.
We will be packing up and heading back to NZ in two weeks so the countdown has begun! Lots to do. Maybe another little trip out if the weather holds. It has been amazing the last few days. Long may it last!

One of the hundreds of herons who make their home on the Saône river.

One of the hundreds of herons who make their home on the Saône river.

St Jean de Losne to Dole 5 hrs, 23 kms, 9 locks

Dole to Rochefort-sur-Nenon 1.6hrs, 7 kms, 2 locks

Rochefort-sur-Nenon to Auxonne 7.4 hrs, 39 kms, 12 locks

Auxonne to St Jean de Losne 1.6 hrs, 14 kms, 1 lock

Posted in Burgundy, Canal Rhone au Rhin, Dole, Doubs River, eclusiers, French Canal boating, French markets, Holiday 2016, Rochefort-sur-Nenon, Saone river, St Jean de Losne | 10 Comments

Chalon, Seurre and St Jean de Losne. Even more men behaving badly and a change in the weather.

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Tuesday, 13th September. Chalon sur Saône is a superb mooring for provisioning. We picked new sheets, pillows etc plus some groceries. It was hot with a southerly wind off the desert. No swimming in Chalon though. Too many boats!
Chalon Port de Plaisance mooring fee is high. €21 per night. We only stayed one night.

The next day we headed off upriver. There were lots of boat traffic for a change, particularly hire boats. We had to wait at the Ecuelles lock for a hotel barge to come down then we followed a small boat in. That’s when the drama started. The small boat motored to the front of the large lock and we came in and stopped towards the back and even from where we were we could hear the Monsieur yelling at Madam. She was holding a rope in one hand and a boat hook in the other. But she seemed not to know what to do with them. Helpfully, Monsieur screamed instructions to her. She was standing about two metres away so that could have helped her confidence I’m sure. We could hear everything and I’m pretty sure the eclusier up in his tower could hear too. Even more bellowing continued and by now they still didn’t have a rope on and the massive lock doors were closing. More panic ensued until finally Monsieur put the rope around a bollard inset into the wall of the 3.2m high lock. The wash was pretty bad too so it was lucky they did. Madam appeared to be sitting on the floor of the boat by this stage, probably mumbling and gently rocking herself. Finally the lock was full and all they had to do was cast off. But unfortunately Madam dropped their boat hook into the water. Monsieur was apoplectic. More screaming from him and then he took off out of the lock. As we tried to contain our mirth Alan noticed to wooden boat hook was floating in the middle of the lock, still ahead of us, so we thought we’d try and rescue it. With careful manoeuvring of the boat and my outstretched arm holding our boat hook we managed to hook the thing and bring it on board. Then we caught up with the little boat and I waved it around to get his attention. Monsieur was thrilled and so we got nice and close and I passed it over to Madam. She seemed rather frazzled and waved her arms around and Monsieur thanked us profusely. And off we rode into the sunset. I mean up the river but feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

Later we pulled into Seurre and they arrived a while later but they didn’t come over. Personally I think he should be ashamed of himself and we were expecting to see Madam with a packed suitcase stomping off towards the nearest railway station but no, all appeared calm so maybe that’s the way they always communicate. It was certainly entertaining!

Later on a big Le Boat Verizon (15m) pulled along side us with Americans from the Bahamas onboard. If you remember the last two times we’ve been to Seurre one of these boats had blown the power supply and everyone lost power all night so, after helping them tie up, Alan explained that if they turned on their aircon this was sure to happen again. They really liked their aircon so they kindly moved off to another quay where they appeared to have their generator running. Not sure if that was because they’d blown up the power supply there or not.

Love this house overlooking the Saône river.

Love this house overlooking the Saône river.

There were two hotel barges tied up at Seurre, one with two Kiwis who live in Boston. We are everywhere! We followed their barge into the Seurre lock the next morning and followed them all the way up to St Jean de Losne via the very tedious 10km deviation. An enormous commercial suddenly appeared unexpectedly out of Pagny commercial port just as a cruiser was overtaking the hotel barge which must have given the cruiser crew a fright. They managed to nip in in front of the hotel barge in the nick of time before the massive commercial plowed past. Fun and games.

Commercial barge versus hotel barge versus cruiser.

Commercial barge versus hotel barge versus cruiser.


He won.

He won.

Once at St Jean de Losne we tied up at the fuel pontoon, intending to fill up but after 57l (€68) it cut off for some unknown reason so that was that. We cast off and headed around to Blanquarts to moor.

Fuel up.

Fuel up.

Saturday we joined the local Kiwi contingent at a bar to watch the All Blacks beat the South Africans and later the sweepstake winner put the money on the bar and everyone trooped back to enjoy a few vins.

Kiwi contingent watching Le Rugby

Kiwi contingent watching Le Rugby

Our plan was to stay in St JdL until Sunday when we would take some friends on a little jaunt for a few days, up to Dole on the Canal du Rhône au Rhin. However the weather has taken a turn for the worse, going from hot and sunny to cold and very wet, so maybe we’ll wait a day or two and hope for a return to our Indian Summer!

Chalon sur Saône to Seurre 5 hrs, 45 kms, 1 lock

Seurre to St Jean de Losne 2.6 hrs, 18kms, 1 lock

Posted in Burgundy, Canal boat, Chalon Sur Saone, France, French Canal boating, Holiday 2016, Seurre, Seurre lock, St Jean de Losne | 4 Comments

Lyon, Belleville, Tournus and Chalon. The beautiful Saône River.

Thursday September 8th. We left Lyon, turning ‘a droit’ up the Saône, back the way we had come. I was a bit reluctant to leave, I loved feeling part of the hustle and bustle of the city while having our boat as a little oasis of calm. Sitting on the deck, people-watching, is one of my favourite things. However Alan was keen to head off, feeling it was time to move on, and we needed to be back at St Jean de Losne in a week.

Lyon is a gorgeous city, mixing old and new into something unique and fascinating. One day we took the Vaporetta (ferry) up the Saône, alighting at the passerelle and crossing over to the oldest part of Lyon.

La Vaporetta

La Vaporetta

Up the steep hill sits the basilica Notre Dame de Fourviere, built in the 19th century to appease the marauding Prussians. Outside it is distinctly different from any church I’ve seen in this area, with a slight Russian or Turkish feel. Inside the mosaics are stunning. And, due to its relative youth, they are in incredible order.

Notre Dame de Fourviere

Notre Dame de Fourviere

Interior mosaics are stunning.

Interior mosaics are stunning.

Interior of the Basilica

Interior of the Basilica  an astronomical clock.

Next to the basilica lie the semi-ruins of two Gallo-Roman amphitheaters, free and open to the public, and still in use. The theatre was built around 15BC, shortly after the foundation of the city, and it is the oldest and one of the largest of Roman Gaul. Originally it was enclosed and could seat up to 11,000 people. Nowadays without the outside walls the capacity is 4,500. There’s a museum as well.

Gallo Roman theatre

Gallo Roman theatre

 

In front of the basilica, down the hill, is the Cathedral St-Jean. And in between there are restaurants, cafes and shops. It reminds me of the left bank in Paris. Just a lot less people!

We crossed back over to the newer (relatively speaking!) side of Lyon (between the Saône and the Rhône). Here there are many upmarket shops, and more cafes, bars and of course beautiful architecture.

Theatre, Lyon

Theatre, Lyon

Confluence Museum

Confluence Museum

Interesting architecture in the Confluence zone.

Interesting architecture in the Confluence zone.

So, we loved Lyon and I hope we come back again. But off we went through the middle of the city, around the Ile Barbe, and on to the Couzon lock. When we rounded the corner we got a bit of a fright. In front of the lock was a massive crane with its arm and bucket deep into the water. There were two work barges there too. And obviously the light was red. It all looked a but chaotic so we decided to tie up onto a passenger ferry quay, back around the corner, and call the lock on our cellphone. There is a channel on the radio (22) for this lock but we can’t understand a word of what’s being said so phoning seemed better. It’s times like these I wish my French was a LOT better. The eclusier said he spoke no English so I tried my best and he helped with a few key words in English (so he knew a little) and we worked out he would get everything moved aside and we would wait 10-20mins. And sure enough all the machinery tied up alongside and the lights went red and green, meaning the lock was being set. I heard him say, on the radio, “Ca marche”, and so we untied and headed off. The doors opened, the light went green and in we went. Another ‘pleasure bateau’ showed up and they followed in behind. After that it all went smoothly and we were through the lock about an hour after we arrived. We waved our thanks to the eclusier, up in his control tower. He was really helpful considering my fumbling French, and we were very thankful.

All the works barges are moved to the side for us.

All the works barges are moved to the side for us.

Lesson learnt? Understanding lock-related French on a phone (or radio) is really important but also really hard. Speaking it is so much easier! My French is getting better but it’s a slow road.

We continued on, the sky was a soft blue, not a cloud to be seen. The forecast is for more hot weather but the cool breeze along the river was soothing. We passed a commercial barge coming the other way, loaded with sand and we exchanged cheerful waves. A pleasure boater passed by, flying a French flag and they waved too. Gosh, what a friendly lot we are!

We passed Trévoux, surprised to find it almost empty and no hotel boats tied up either. Where is everyone, we thought. It was tempting to stay there but we wanted to try the mooring at Montmerle-sur-Saône, another couple of hours away, so we continued on, enjoying the weather and passing scenery. It was 26° with a breeze from the north. Perfect.

Montmerle was also quiet and there was plenty of room but we remembered Belleville, only 5 kms away, is free compared to 10€ so carried on. Luckily there was enough space, just, for us and we moored. And straight into our togs and into the water. Bliss.

We stayed in Belleville for four days, biking back to Montmerle one day and enjoyed the swimming. Two cruise liners tied up during that time (one had 30 kiwis on board, some came to say hi) plus a German man on a tiny yacht, heading for Portugal.

Belleville sunset.

Belleville sunset.

The only downside of Belleville became evident on Sunday when every man and his dog launched their speed boats or JetSkis and preceded to race up and down creating a huge amount of wash. It was like being on the ocean in a constant squall. We were happy to leave on Monday!

Plenty of canal traffic.

Plenty of canal traffic.

Monday September 12 we headed out early, 7.30am, and presented ourselves at the Dracé lock at 8.15, locked up with no drama AND a cheery wave from the control tower! After 57km and 6 and a half hours, we arrived in Tournus. There was one tight space available which Alan skilfully slotted Silver Fern into.

I really like Tournus. It has a beautiful Abbey, quaint winding streets and lots of history. The quay is always busy, half of it is reserved for Saône Plaisance rental boats which doesn’t leave a lot. It is free power and water which everyone loves. Downside is a bit of a smell. Not exactly sewerage but a bit off. There were three cruise ships that came and went, presumably to pick up/drop off passengers into buses for side trips. The Cluny Abbey is near here but it’s not on the water.

Abbey in Tournus

Abbey in Tournus

After a night in Tournus we departed early again, 7.45am. The reason was I had had an email from the VNF ( I’m on a mailing list for what they call ‘Avis à la batellerie’ which lets us know of any issues on the waterways) which said there would be work on the Ormes Lock from 10am to 5pm so we wanted to pass through before that started. And it all went well, the lock was ready and they hadn’t started their dredging yet so they moved the equipment out of the way for us. I love it when a plan comes together!

So we continued on to Chalon-sur-Saône where we need to buy a few things at the big Carrefour before heading on to either Verdun-sur-Doubs or Seurre tomorrow morning. We should be back in St Jean-de-Losne by Thursday, time to clean up the boat a bit before friends join us at the weekend. Silver fern needs a wee tidy up after three weeks on the Saône!

Lyon to Belleville 6 hrs, 55kms, 1 lock

Belleville to Tournus 6.4 hrs, 57kms, 1 lock

Tournus to Chalon 3.4 hrs, 30kms, 1 lock

 

Posted in Canal boat, eclusiers, France, French Canal boating, Holiday 2016, Saone river, Speaking French, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mâcon, Belleville, Travoux and where the Saône meets the Rhône, the beautiful Lyon

 

On the move...

On the move…

Wednesday 31 August
We were woken by a boat leaving port at 6am this morning. By 7.30 we were up, showered and ready to go. There is a handy fuel quay here in Mâcon’s Port de Plaisance so we decide to top up the tanks. However a Dutch yacht beat us to it but we were fuelled up and heading out by 8.20am. What a lovely morning.

Fill her up.

Fill her up.

It was cooler the day before, mid 20s, so we walked into the centre of Mâcon, 3 kms away. It’s a large and busy town of 63,000 residents and considered a ‘foodie’ capital. Also big in wine production, with 49 millions Mâconnais bottles a year, it is the biggest producer of white wine in Bourgogne. Due to budget requirements sadly we did not add to those sales figures this year. At least not while in Mâcon. Later we had a few glasses. Delicious.

Mâcon is old. I mean really old. In fact one of the oldest cities in France. It was already a major town under the tribe of the Eduens during the period of independent Gaul. Unfortunately it was badly damaged during the religious wars so, although over 2000 years old, there aren’t many relics left. St Pierre is a beautiful church, stunning inside.

St Pierre eglise

St Pierre eglise

St Pierre interior

St Pierre interior

We wandered up and down the gently winding streets and alleyways and stopped for a grande creme in the Place St Pierre. A very enjoyable few hours.
It was a bit of a slog in the hot sun walking back to the port but well worth the effort.

Mâcon

Mâcon

Mâcon

Mâcon

So next morning we were out on the Saône again, still heading south. We passed the commercial port and watched a long barge’s cargo being unloaded.

Commercial port

Commercial port

Later a 110m commercial came steaming up behind us and as we all know commercial traffic takes priority so we moved to starboard to allow him it pass. Actually it was a ‘she’ in control. She went into the Dracé lock, just squeezing in with the sides almost touching, and as the light was still green, we followed behind.

There were three gendarmes beside the lock who stopped to have a discussion with the Captaine and we thought they may come down and talk to us as we’ve heard they are doing boardings and document checking but they wandered by and gave us a wave.

Gendarmes chatting to the Captaine of the commercial barge in front.

Gendarmes chatting to the Captaine of the commercial barge in front.

Once out a large hotel boat passed us by and headed into the lock. Later on we saw another massive barge, filled to almost overflowing with logs of wood head downstream. Not many pleasure boats though.

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Plenty of commercial traffic.

Plenty of commercial traffic.

We tied up at a small and free pontoon in Belleville. Power and water available too. There’s a lovely restaurant up on the waterfront so Alan decided he’d take me out for lunch. And what a lunch. Three courses plus coffee €13.50 each. And a small carafe of lovely Mâconnais vin blanc for another €4. What a bargain. And excellent food. The owner was interested in New Zealand, knew Auckland, Wellington and the All Blacks. Sadly he’d never heard of Christchurch. He has now!

That's just the first course!

That’s just the first course!

Love this restaurant by the mooring in Belleville.

Love this restaurant by the mooring in Belleville.

We had a little promenade then back on board for un petit siesta. It was 30°. We swam off the back of the boat all afternoon to cool off. I have to say I loved Belleville. It’s a very small pontoon though and someone has parked up their boat and left, taking up 12m of space. Not really fair.

Belleville mooring.

Belleville mooring.

One night we awoke at 3.30am to hear a commercial boat passing, causing quite a bit of wake. The following night, at 1.30am, a 110m cruise liner pulled in right beside us, it’s back just feet away from our cabin. Looking out our cabin porthole all we could see were bright lights and hear the engine thudded away. I had that optical illusion that it seemed we were moving and they were standing still. All very bizarre and I found it hard to get back to sleep as their crew were tying up and putting down the walkway. An unusual experience!

The view from our porthole at 1.30am.

The view from our porthole at 1.30am.

All that noise and flashing lights wasn't a UFO landing. It was this!

All that noise and flashing lights wasn’t a UFO landing. It was this!

After two days we motored down to Travoux. What a beautiful town with a Mediterranean feel. The river here is outstanding. Wide and tree lined. We have seen a lot of large cruise boats from Switzerland and Germany as well France down this way.

Travoux

Travoux

Travoux

Travoux

Travoux

Travoux

Picturesque Travoux

Picturesque Travoux

We swam off the boat to cool down. The temperature sat around 30°. The only downside to mooring in Travoux is the wake from speed boats and jet skis. The huge cruise boats aren’t too bad. They moor closer to the town while our pleasure boaters mooring is near the campground. We thought there might be a punch up at the mooring when one boat, who had obviously been doing some painting, pulled out to turn around and another boat, obviously spotting the space put his foot down and dove into the space, taking his spot. Fortunately they both just squeezed in. It’s a popular mooring and only fits 6-8 boats.

Moving on the next day we passed through the large lock just before Lyon and continued on through the city and out onto the Rhone river. What an amazing experience. Lyon is the third largest city in France and is famous for its architecture and food. The old part of the city is on the right bank but further along at the confluence of the Saône and the Rhone there are some amazing new buildings including the Musee de Confluence which we visited. Stunning inside and out, the collections are unusually curated. A must visit. The port de plaisance is nearby, right in the middle of an area of apartments bars restaurants and shops which is beautifully lit at night.
We will be here for a few days before heading back the way we came. I’m so glad we came down here, it’s amazing.

Early morning departure on the Saône

Early morning departure on the Saône

Misty morning leaving Travoux on the Saône.

Misty morning leaving Travoux on the Saône.

Last lock before Lyon.

Last lock before Lyon.

IIle Barbe coming into Lyon.

IIle Barbe coming into Lyon.

Ile Barbe, Lyon.

Ile Barbe, Lyon.

Bonjour Lyon

Bonjour Lyon

We made it into the Rhône! Rhône on the right, Saône on the left.

We made it into the Rhône! Rhône on the right, Saône on the left.

View from our mooring in Lyon. Very entertaining.

View from our mooring in Lyon. Very entertaining.

Lyon is so beautiful I’ll put up some more pics on my next blog.

Bises.

Macon to Belleville 3.6 hrs, 28kms, 1 lock,

Belleville to Trevoux 2.6 hrs, 24 kms, 0 locks

Trevoux to Lyon 4.3 hrs, 31kms, 1 lock

Posted in Burgundy, Canal boat, France, French Canal boating, Holiday 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments