Barging in Burgundy Part 7

Barging in Burgundy

To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy

Day Twelve – 9th July 2017
Mâcon
We had this day all to ourselves, so got up late. My husband had a few paint touch-ups he wanted to do and gave the boat a good sweep. I changed the linen, towels and kitchen cloths and did two more loads of washing. You never know when you will see a washing machine again on the waterways. There was intermittent light rain and it felt so good not to be hot. It’s impossible to predict what the weather will be like when you plan a holiday, but the best time for boating is out of the very hot seasons. We prefer to avoid the European school summer holidays. But it doesn’t always work like that.

We could have squeezed another day in Mâcon, but we had so many other places to see. Apparently Mâcon has survived all sorts of disasters and many heritage buildings have been destroyed. The plan was to pop into Pont-de-Vaux which is 3 kilometres along a tiny little canal off the Saône. Our new neighbours highly recommended it. After that we would make our way back to the Saône, then up the Seille with two stops, the last one being Louhans.

Storm brewing over Macon

Storm brewing over Macon

That afternoon a lovely thunderstorm hit the marina. Seems to happen in the hot summer months. Delicious thunderstorms brew, black clouds gather, thunder and lightning strike, winds swirl up and the heavens open dumping welcome rain. Can get a bit hectic on the boat. Have to make sure we’re tied up securely and all the hatches and windows are closed. Of course heat and rain bring mosquitoes. My other half and I had been indulging in French sweets and chocolates. How can you not in France? Apparently mozzies have a sweet tooth. We were covered in red spots. I resolved to increase our garlic intake even more.

Day Thirteen – 10th July 2017
Mâcon to Pont-de-Vaux
We got up fairly early and did a last shop-up at the supermarket (supermarche) on the other side of the marina. Found some bargain wines. Love that. Topped up with water. With three people using water for the last 5 nights on the boat, and low water pressure at the tap, it took forever to fill the tanks. Our tanks were almost empty. I find the smell and taste of the water in the tanks after standing during the winter a bit unpleasant. All this clean water would make a difference. As I sat waiting for the tanks to fill I was watching the flashes of silver fish swimming in circles catching insects on the surface of the water. Traveling on the waterways is about being in the moment for me.

Trundling along Pont de Vaux

Trundling along Pont de Vaux

Mâcon Nord was a perfect marina. Who knows what we were going to find next? We back-tracked along the Saône and then found the canalized tributary river that lead up to Pont-de-Vaux. There’s a tiny little manual lock as you enter. And it’s shallow. At times we had nothing underneath us. When it came to tie up we got stuck. The boat would not move. My better half was jumping about, trying to wiggle the boat and giving it extra power. He got Shangri La to slightly deeper water and luckily we managed to get alongside.

Not much happens in little towns in France. The Tourism Info Office in Pont-de-Vaux is closed on Mondays. As was most of the town. The Capitainerie closed from 12.00pm to 14.00pm. They had a book exchange section so I off-loaded my mother’s books and some of mine. I love this free donate or exchange books thing we occasionally find on the waterways. What a good idea.

Pont de Vaux at dusk

Pont de Vaux at dusk

We did a quick walk-about of the town. It’s small. But they have two great supermarkets and a good few nice looking bars and brasseries. I suspect Pont-de-Vaux could be lovely on a weekend. We only just made it back to the boat before another thunderstorm broke. I set about making us a mushroom and courgette risotto for supper to go with a Beaujolais wine. We have a good life on the waterways. It’s our happy place.

Read more – here.

Barging in Burgundy Part 6

Barging in Burgundy Part 6

Barging in Burgundy

To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy

Day Eleven – 8th July 2017
Mâcon to Lyon
We left the boat behind and started the trek to Lyon Airport so my mother could fly back to London. The marina organised a taxi for us to Mâcon station for €22. About 3 kilometres down the road, my better half asked what I had done with the keys and tag to get back into the marina. I had left them on top of my mother’s suitcase. The taxi driver had not seen them when he loaded the luggage. When we got to Mâcon station, we left my mother, dashed down to the Tourist Info Office and asked them to please phone the marina so they could look out for the keys. Unfortunately, our planned evening in Lyon wouldn’t happen as we had to get back before the marina office staff went home.

Lyon

Lyon

As the train gets close to Lyon the terrain becomes lovely and verdant. We passed over the Saône and the Rhône. I would have liked time to show my mother around Lyon, which is without doubt my favourite place in all our waterway travels so far. It’s clean and bright. Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. There are a good few veggie friendly paces to visit. Such a pity their marina is so small and situated in a heavily built up residential and shopping area. To make up for not boating there, we planned to Airbnb a few days in Lyon at the end of our waterways holiday.

From Lyon Part Dieu Station, we took the Rhône-Express tram to the airport. It’s a fair distance from the city. The airport is busy undergoing a major renovation. Took us a while to figure out where to go. And then we had too much time on our hands before my mother’s flight. We always over-budget travel time just in case. And more than once we’ve needed it. What’s a person to do? Have a French meal of course.

Lyon

Lyon

Then we checked my mother in with assisted passage. I would have thought British Airways would have someone who could speak English at their check-in point. But no. We managed to get my mother’s luggage checked through and were told to wait near the check-in point. She would be collected 20 minutes prior to departure. I was getting anxious when it got past the 20 minutes and raced around to find the boarding gate. Of course, no one spoke English there either. I managed to figure out my mother was waiting in the wrong place. We frantically dragged her as fast as we could, what seemed like kilometres, to the boarding gate. No-one was overly interested in us, so we stood in full view of the staff. The flight had minutes to go before someone eventually came to speak to her. In French. First, they had to find a wheel chair which took more time. Finally, they wheeled her out of sight. We later heard from her that they tried to load her onto a flight bound for Algiers. She could see the BA plane getting ready to go on the tarmac and was trying to tell them they were putting her on the wrong flight. Thank heavens someone looked at her boarding pass and put her on the right plane. Unfortunately, her luggage ended up in Algiers.

Lyon

Lyon

We made it back to the marina 10 minutes before it closed. They had found our keys in the car park. After a drama filled day we had a cold shower, put on our sarongs, filled our glasses with a Bordeaux my mother had bought for us and sat on the back deck to cool off. There was a slight breeze which was most welcome. Sometimes people keep to themselves and barely greet you. Other times people just start chatting. We had a New Zealand couple next to us, A French couple and a Swiss couple opposite. It’s handy to find out from others what they think of the routes, water levels and marinas. Share tips and ideas. The swiss guy had found a device that stops people being able to steal fuel. Something we didn’t know happened to unoccupied boats.

Read more – here.

Barging in Burgundy Part 5

Barging in Burgundy Part 5

Barging in Burgundy

To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy Part 1.

Day Nine – 6th July 2017
Macon Ville
If it was hot the previous day it was even hotter on this day. The predicted temperatures were around 35’C. Forecasts were climbing. Although we were happy in Mâcon Nord, my mother was with us, and no way could she walk 4 kilometres to the centre of town. The bus stop was also going to be too much of a walk for her. We decided to take the boat down to Macon Ville and check out options.

The jetty in Mâcon can only accommodate 4 – 6 boats. Certainly wise to get there as soon as possible. There are a few eateries right next to the quay. And a public toilet which I would not recommend. No services available. Maximum stay 3 days. And it was free. They were gearing up for some event so we decided to explore Macon and return our boat back to the lovely marina to escape the noise.

Heading for Macon

Heading for Macon

The super friendly ladies at the Tourist Info Office gave us good advice for our travel plans. We asked if Mâcon had any vegan friendly eateries. No. We did a short walk around Mâcon and then the heat got too much, so we tried to find somewhere to eat. None of the kebab places would do a falafel for us. One nice looking place was full. The other nice looking place had only one person working there, a queue out the door, and dirty tables. No way could she take on more people. We headed back to the quay and settled at one of the eateries there. The prices were good. Too good as it turned out. Our food was disappointing.

We resolved to make a lovely meal on the boat to make up. I made spinach flatbreads, home-made hummus, with lots of fresh vegetables and crudités, plus some vegan cold faux meat slices. For the rest of the evening we sat around waiting for the sun to set and the ambient temperature to finally drop. Usually around 9.30pm. The coolest spot was on the foredeck so we draped ourselves across the deck and chatted, planning what we would do when we won the lotto.

Food on the back deck

Food on the back deck

Day Ten – 7th July 2017
Mâcon
This was mother’s last day with us on the boat. She spent 10 days with us in London and 9 days with us on the boat. Her flight out to London was 15.30pm the next day via Lyon. My favourite city in France. We’d resolved to take a taxi to Mâcon station. A train to Lyon Central Station. And the Rhone Express out to Lyon St Exupery Airport. Her plan was to take a few days off in the UK before her long-haul flight to the USA and Canada.

We had a heap of clothes washing and linen to do, so a day out of exploring was overdue. Each day was hotter than the day before and the last thing we wanted was to be hanging around in the blazing sun. A washing and cleaning day it would be. Luckily the marina at Mâcon Nord had brand new washing machine and dryer. With English instructions. And tokens. A wash or dry at €3 which was hardly expensive.

Macon Marina

Macon Marina

Next to the marina is a bar come cafe which overlooks the river flowing past. My mother treated us to some drinks. My mother had a cafe, my husband had a beer from Louhans and I had a red wine from Corsica. All very good and one of the best wines I have ever tasted. So good my other half and I had a second round. The bill came to €28. It was so hot we weren’t hungry. I made us a salad and we ate fruit.

Read more – here.

Barging in Burgundy Part 4

Barging in Burgundy Part 4

Barging in Burgundy

To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy Part 1.

Day Seven – 4th July 2017
Tournus
There was no great rush to do anything so we had a leisurely breakfast and then went to do the walking tour of Tournus. It takes just over an hour. The main attraction is the abbey built around 1100. In excellent condition. We found little lanes and side roads and were able to read about their importance in times gone by. A man had accosted us as we started our walk and told us about his creperie. My mother was keen to try a French crepe so we made our way to Place de l’Arc and found his Sweet and Savoury Pancakes. Hellava friendly chap. Very proud that his food was made from local and mostly organic produce. And it was good.

My mother had been wanting to have Atlantic Salmon. Much as we adhere to a vegan lifestyle we didn’t have it in our hearts to deny her this, so bought her a piece of salmon to cook on the BBQ. I made marinated veggie and tofu kebabs for my husband and myself. A couple of salads and potatoes wrapped in foil to put on the fire. We have a portable mini kettle style BBQ that we place on the grass or jetty when we make an outdoor meal. Perfect in hot weather.

Tournus

Tournus

Day Eight – 5th July 2017
Tournus to Mâcon nord
The trip from Tournus to Mâcon was just under 3 hours. We should have made better time as we were going with the current but there was quite a strong head-wind slowing us down. It’s green and really pretty en route. It’s also much nicer to be moving on the water when it’s hot. Temperatures were around 32’C. We bought two 2 x 3 metres pieces of blue tarpaulin at the garden (jardin) section of the supermarket for €2. A steal really. The two triangles we had bought made a HUGE difference. We were still sitting around dripping with perspiration but it at least we had some shade. One of the other boaters had taken a drive to a river where they went swimming to cool off. My other half and I took cold showers on the boat and wore a nothing more than our sarongs.

Tournus

Tournus

The marina north of Mâcon is fabulous. The French Waterways guidebook recommends it over the moorings in Macon ville as it’s quieter. The amenities are spotless, air-conditioned and modern, they also have free bicycle hire. Bonus. And super friendly staff who are happy to speak English. It’s about a 4 kilometre walk to sightseeing in Macon Ville. Mâcon Nord has a massive supermarket and a free bus service nearby. The cost per night was €23 with an extra €2 for electricity.

We had met a lady at Tournus and encountered her again in Mâcon. Turns out her husband had always dreamed of doing the waterways of France. Sadly, he developed Parkinson’s disease. Not one to be deterred, she was doing most of the boating, and all the rest of the chores, to realise his dream. They would go for walks together and we even saw them cycling together. Can’t have been easy for her but what a beautiful love story.

Map of places of interest in Tournus

Map of places of interest in Tournus

On the other side of our boat was a hire boat with 4 French couples. I love how civilised they were. Full table of food with multiple courses for supper. They took their meals at a leisurely pace and spoke softly to each other. We barely noticed a boat full of people right next to us enjoying the evening. And I have to say, that is my experience of French people. Whether it’s their children, the teenagers or adults on holiday, they never seem to disgrace themselves.

Read more – on this link

Barging in Burgundy Part 3

Barging in Burgundy Part 3

Barging in Burgundy

To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy

Day Five – 2nd July 2017
Chalon-sur-Saône
The plan was to have a day in Chalon-sur-Saône. One of our favourite spots. Also, a bigger place so, super handy from a shopping perspective. Sundays are slow at the best of times in France. You really want to be in a larger place like Chalon-sur-Saône on a Sunday. A village would have been deader than dead. It was a no brainer to lurk a bit longer. They have a fabulous food market on Sunday mornings so we hot footed it over the St Laurent bridge, followed the crowds, and immersed ourselves in the lanes that make up the market. Truth is French markets are not always good value. Supermarkets are often cheaper. But they are so seductive with their beautifully arranged produce and tastings. Vendors tout for business and it’s impossible to resist items you wouldn’t ordinarily see. Asparagus as fat as my wrist, black tomatoes, the freshest herbs and all sorts of berries.

Approaching Chalon-sur-Saone

Approaching Chalon-sur-Saone

We bought juicy summer melons, donut peaches and cherries. After our shopping, we stopped at a café next to the river for a French coffee. Caught up on Internet related stuff and moseyed back to the boat. There we did lots of non important things. Read, snacked, had a snooze and played cards. Late afternoon I went for a run along the river and came back to make Puy Lentil Rissoles with a chunky tomato sauce, minted peas and a cabbage and potato mash for supper. We washed that down with local red wine. It felt like the sun was never going to set. Still bright at 21.30pm. Across the river there was a festival of sorts and we could hear music.

Food Market Chalon-sur-Saone

Food Market Chalon-sur-Saone

Day Six – 3rd July 2017
Chalon-sur-Saône to Tournus
Before we left Chalon, we wanted to go to the hardware store (bricolage) and an organic food shop on the opposite side of the marina in a retail area. The weather had been cool and rainy but the forecast was for hot weather. On the boat, hot weather can be really hot. We hoped to find some shade cloth. What is shade cloth in French? No idea, but we tried to mime and use words we knew to explain and they seemed to understand as they took us to triangles of cloth with metal rings which we bought.

Tied up in Chalon-sur-Saone

Tied up in Chalon-sur-Saone

At the organic food shop, we went a bit crazy and stocked up on things you don’t easily find in the French supermarkets. Smoked tofu, veggie pates and organic toiletries. I love the soap they make in Marseilles. Back at the boat we untied and set off along the Saône toward Tournus. I was pronouncing it tour nos but it’s actually thoor noo. No wonder no one understood me. One big lock and a few hours later we tied up at the very last space in Tournus.

The mooring in Tournus is free. You get electricity and water. No amenities. There are public toilets scattered around the town but they’re not great. And defo no wi-fi. Free is always good so we weren’t complaining. You’re limited to 36 hours and then required to move on.

Tournus

Tournus

They say in the French Waterways map book that it’s around Tournus that the change between north and south France becomes apparent. The northerners have grey tall buildings with grey roofs. They are fair and reserved. The climate is cooler. Southern buildings are shorter with red tiled roofs and autumnal colours abound. The people are darker and more animated. It’s hotter in the south. And yes, I could see a difference.

Read more – on this link

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