Barging in Burgundy
To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy Part 1.
Day Nine – 6th July 2017
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
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
Day Ten – 7th July 2017
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.
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.
Barging in Burgundy
To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy Part 1.
Day Seven – 4th July 2017
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.
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.
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
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
To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy
Heading down the Saone
Day Three – 30th June 2017
St-Jean-de-Losne to Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
My husband made us a divine melon/banana/oat smoothie for breakfast. And the obligatory plunger of good coffee. Then we headed up on deck to untie and make our way south along the River Saône. First, we topped up with 250 litres of fuel which came to €318.00. We passed through two medium locks – one was 3.75 metres.
We gave Seurre a miss. Last time they charged us for full services which we never received. The office/centre was closed and we couldn’t access or use their amenities. Bit cheeky methinks. Verdun-sur-le-Doubs on the other hand we remembered fondly. Friendly and a full range of services. Even their wi-fi worked. It was a no brainer to stop there again.
A bloke came down and helped us tie up. Always handy that. We tied up backwards (stern to) in Verdun-sur-le-Doubs. On our previous trip we had done their village walking tour. The Tourist Info Office is right next to the marina. They gave us a guide and we followed little yellow fish painted on the road. This time we ambled about slowly and headed for their Atac supermarket. There is nothing you could possibly need that Atac don’t stock. It was still drizzly and cool so we stayed inside the boat. I made a big fat veggie frittata which we ate with French Carrot salad. You can buy it ready made in most shops. It’s divine. And of course, we had a few blocks of local Cotê d’Or chocolate.
Shangri La in Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
Day Four – 1st July 2017
Verdun-sur-le-Doubs to Chalon-sur-Saône
My other half got up reasonably early and joined the queue outside the Boulangerie to buy pastries for my mother and freshly baked whole-wheat bread (pain complet) for brekka. OMW the baked goods in France are divine. As we were gearing up to untie and head off we got chatting to a friendly English bloke who had been cruising the waterways for the last 25 years. These guys need to download their info onto some sort of site. They know so much. One thing he mentioned was rainfall on the canals. This had contributed to more weeds in the water than normal. A possible problem when using canal water with weeds is blockages in toilets. Another thing we hadn’t considered – low rainfall means less water in the canals. Which could mean they have to close some of the canals. We needed to be vigilant and keep up to date with VNF news in this regard.
Shangri La arrived in Chalon-sur-Saône to find a super friendly bloke who spoke perfect English guiding us into the best mooring spot and helping with our ropes. Nice! After we tied up we had a lunch of bread, crackers, spreads, pâtés and fruit and then headed up to find a wi-fi (or wiffy as they call it in France) Café. The amenities at Chalon-sur-Saône are excellent but like most marinas, the wi-fi was useless. Chalon-sur-Saône is one of the best marinas in the area.
Tied up in Chalon-sur-Saone
We’ve often wondered why the cafés and bars right next to the marinas can provide perfect high speed wi-fi, yet most marinas have rubbish wi-fi. C’est la vie. After catching up on life we wandered around a bit and then headed back to the boat just in time to miss the rain. The aromas of on-board cooking permeated the marina. We could see folks settled in with glasses of wine at the ready. Life on the waterways is truly idyllic.
Read more – on this link
My other half is also blogging about our trips. You can read his take on things – here.
Read from the start – here.
Finally we found the marina at Seurre. We didn’t expect the marina to be open on a Sunday and we were right. It’s looks a lovely place but we didn’t have access to any facilities or wi-fi. While we were catching up on things we heard a commotion outside. The Fire Department had arrived. They were trying to catch a swan. Couldn’t figure out why but my other half thought they said it had a fishing hook in it’s beak.
The villagers all flocked around to watch the dapper firemen chasing after the swan in a rubber boat. The swan wasn’t having any of it so it took a while. After all the fuss subsided we went for a walk. Not a lot going on. One pub open but that was all. Also not a big village so we covered it in no time.
Rescuers saving a swan
Back at the boat I made a big fat salad with a galette type thing we bought with some Provençal tomato sauce. Not sure what the difference is between that and regular tomato sauce as it came in a tin but it was great.
Monday morning Patrick went to the Capitainerie to let them know we had been at the marina and were leaving. And we were charged full price! Bit cheeky since there were no services.
Making supper – galettes with provencal sauce
We untied and made our way to St-Jean-de-Losne. The second big lock wasn’t anywhere near as problematic for which we were very grateful. It could be that the lock-keeper was more experienced or the paddles didn’t open as fast?
Back at St-Jean-de-Losne we were hit with a bit of an anti climax. We usually have to clean the deck chairs, table, etc and bring all that down into the spare cabin. The washing has to be done and packed away. The engineer comes to service the engine and “winters” the boat which includes emptying the water tanks. We use up the last of our food. Our last night on the boat is always sad.
But the nice thing is we usually have a good idea of where we’re likely to go boating the following year. And it’s looking like we’re going down the River Saône toward Macon and then back up to the River Seille to Louhans. From there we’re heading toward Digoin and Decize where we will hopefully moor the next winter.
When Patrick bought this boat I had grand notions of us traveling all over – Scandinavia, Eastern Bloc countries, UK and more. But the reality is boating is a leisurely experience and it’s not going to happen. We will explore as much of France as we can and then travel the waterways of Germany. By then it will be time to let someone else enjoy our boat.
Read from the start – here.
Near the bricolage was a huge bio (organic) food store that we absolutely had to visit. Neither of us could resist buying vegan frankfurters, veggie burgers and almond cream cheeze. We offloaded our goods back at the boat and decided to try the veggie restaurant after all. Who should be sitting there but my friend? I was more than a bit surprised given her earlier sentiments.
The food was good. Most of the veg friendly eateries we’ve been to in France tend to have a colourful array of salads with different dressings – finely grated carrot, red cabbge, celeriac, green leaves, butter beans, lentils – with a quiche or savoury tart. There was also a terrine and an onion and tomato bake with Provençal flavours. We had a pichet (pitcher) of wine to go with it. My other half and I were the only ones drinking wine in the entire restaurant. So much for the French cliché! But maybe lunch time on a week day had something to do with it.
The three of us walked back to the boat to escape the rain and read, rest or relax. I had a snooze. A huge plate of food and wine midday does that to a person. My friend decided to pack up early and head for her next Warm Showers host early. We never got to say goodbye.
Tariff per night at Chalon sur Saône is €13. Water is included. Electricty is a flat €3. However the next morning when my husband went for a shower, he discovered the facilities at Chalon sur Saône close on weekends. Would have been nice to know that in advance. At least spared us from trying to use them. And the wi-fi never worked. Although it’s hardly a lot of money – you are paying for facilities that you don’t actually get.
Our meal at Tout les Coleurs
What to do next year is the big question for us? The South African couple we met liked Lyon, so we decided to catch a train down there and see the city for ourselves. We also wanted to get an idea what the marina looked like. Trains come and go from Chalon sur Saône to Lyon around every hour to hour and a half. During normal travel hours. The train trip takes about an hour and twenty minutes.
I was struck by how green it was coming into Lyon. Not sure why I expected otherwise? Perhaps because Burgundy is less lush and we were heading toward the Mediterranean which is hot? Lyon is the 3rd biggest city in France. After Marseille and the capital Paris. By contrast it’s brighter, more spacious and dare I say this, cleaner than Paris. Lyon is also appreantly the gourmet capital of France. It was Saturday, market day, and we found a fabulous food market. I could go back just for that. There’s a narrow section between the Rhone and the Saône which we meandered through and is well worth exploring. We found a vegan supermarket. Un Monde Vegan. Who would have thought? Naturally we came out with a few items.
The other meal at Tout les Coleurs
A bloke at Un Monde Vegan recommended an eatery called Toutes les Couleurs. How could we not go there? We had a three course meal each and a pichet (pitcher) of wine to share. Our meal came to €65. All their food is organic. And tasty. A mix of raw and macrobiotic food. Beautifully presented. A lot of emphasis on presentation. They cut their carrot slices into perfect little daisy shapes. Not a place to go if you’re in a hurry. Wish I knew how they make their salad dressing. It’s divine! Their meals consist of a lot of leafy greens. Only fault is I would have liked a little more food.
For a starter I had a smoked lentil paté and my husband had finely chopped veg crudites. Served with a home-made bread. Our mains were a warm veggie and salad plate and a raw veggie salad plate. For desert we had a baked apple type thing with a caramel sauce and a raw cheese made with three different kinds of peppers for flavour. And more home-made bread.
We walked to the marina from the restaurant, which is a good 5 kilometres. The marina is actually quite far from where the action is. It looks new and seems to offer a lot. If only it was open. We had hoped to chat to the capitain and make plans for next year. It’s not a big marina, maybe 15 boats moored there? Perhaps there’s not a lot of boating happening in Lyon? Which is surprising given our experiences in marinas in Amsterdam, Antwerp or Paris. All we can think is people travel north to south to the Mediterranean and Lyon is merely a stop-over? What a lovely city to miss. I would defintely love to explore Lyon. We logged 30 000 steps on our day in Lyon.
It was time to turn around and boat back along the Saone toward St-Jean-de-Losne. There was such thick mist in the morning we could not see more than 60 or 70 metres ahead. My other half was using his mobile phone maps app to see where our boat was on the river. He had to be really careful as fishermen were out in their boats on a Sunday morning. As were canoeists and other pleasure boat enthusiasts.
There had been flood warnings after a few days of heavy rain and we feared the rains may affect the river as we were motoring agaist the current. However we made good speed. By late morning the fog lifted and the sun came out. It turned into a beautiful day. The trees were just beginning to change to amber and copper colours as autumn drew in. Ducks flew down and skated on the water while swans glided past the river banks. White cattle languished lazily on the fields. It’s the sort of day that makes boating so pleasureable.
Market at Lyon
We entered a lock that we had done when we went down the river and I expected it to be as uneventful. How wrong was I? It’s an enormous lock. The bollards are so far apart we could only tie the middle rope to the quay. Water flowing in caused our poor boat to lurch violently about. The back bashed aganst the wall then the boat swung around and the front bashed against the wall. This kept happening and all we could do was try to push Shangri La from the wall each time she swung around.
Read from the start – here.
This trip was divided into parts. We returned to the UK so my husband could go back to work in Azerbaijan which unfortunately cut our holiday into two. My job was to help renovate and fix a flat in South West London.
Moored in Verdun sur Doubs
Two days after my husband got back from his 5 week stint away we made the epic journey from our flat back to our boat. Starting with a 20 minute walk to the train station in South West London. Then an overground train to Vauxhall. No idea why but this train seemed to stand still for what seemed like forever nearly doubling our usual trip. Then the underground train from Vauxhall to Kings Cross St Pancras. Next we caught the Eurostar to Paris. Followed by the Metro from Garre du Nord to Garre de Lyon. A train to Dijon. Another train to St-Jean-de-Losne. And walked the final leg of about 30 minutes to the Casino supermarche in St-Jean-de-Losne just before it closed.
We carried our luggage, backpacks and bags of groceries to the boat. Switched on the water, showered, rustled up a meal and pretty much crashed. The next morning we had a friend joining us. When the boat is not in use – the gear that usually lies on the deck – mop, broom, boat hooks, step ladder, gang plank, 4 x deck chairs and table – all live in the spare cabin. That had to come out. But first the boat had to be cleaned. Then our linen had to be dredged up from under the seats and the beds made up. One other job we had been meaning to do was remove the davits and find a home for them.
We have nice sturdy davits. But they get in the way when we tie up stern-to-quay. They protrude so far back we have to bring the boat forward leaving quite a gap to leap when coming ashore. We thought they might fit under the bed but it turned out they were too big. The only other place for them was under the floor boards next to the engine. My husband was not happy about this. He can barely get to his engine and this wasn’t going to help.
After a few attempts which included some flames when the two ends of one davit almost jump started the engine we finally found a spot for them. The friend arrived while we were hoisting the davits into the hull and was swiftly put to work helping us. She was cycling from the the north to the south of France on the velo routes. We like that she’s also vegan.
Verdun sur Doubs
Once she was settled and her bike stowed safely at the back of the boat, her and I went food shopping. Two Tauruses buying food? Need I say more. My other half was trying to find out more about the jobs that were still not completed – like the generator. Sadly in the 5 weeks were away – H2O had not managed to get that done.
Finally a sense of order set in and I made supper which was a sort of ratattouile with rice, BBQ marinated tofu cubes fried crispy plus salads. And – of course – local Burgundy wine. We sat and spoke for a while and turned in for an early night.
I thought my other half wanted an early start but it turned out to be more leisurely. Breakfast was granola, almond milk and fruit plus a chocolate, banana, protein powder smoothie. Then we started on our journey toward Chalon sur Saône via Verdun sur le Doubs where we would spend out first night. Lots of little towns lurk nearby or on the river. The river can flow quite fiercely, particularly after Lyon where the Rhone and Saône become one river. It was not our intention to get that far south. But at the very end of summer, early autumn the Saone was moving gently. Which meant coming up against the current back home would be a whole lot easier.
There were only two locks. Big locks. We were locking down. We managed both with no hiccoughs. At Verdun sur le Doubs we tied up. Fortunately the Tourism Office is right next to the marina. The friendly ladies there gave us a leaflet to do a walking tour. It’s not a big place so the walk didn’t take long. There are yellow fish painted on the roads a person can follow them to see the sights. My friend was accosted by a little old man who regaled us with family photos and dragged us into his house. He showed us his wine collection. His photos. He also showed us his weeds that he was cultivating for some reason. His English was no better than our French so much of the conversation was lost.
Verdun sur le Doubs is a typical small French town. Very few people. You see beautiful heritage homes for sale. Many of the shops have closed. One can only hope these ancient places will be protected. The marina was fine. Friendly Capitain. Wifi was rubbish. Had to give up. But to be fair, this is a recurring problem on the waterways. Always wonder how an ordinary café can provide excellent wi-fi to numerous patrons but most marinas can’t provide wifi to boaters?
Back on the boat we had a lovely hot shower. Then we snacked on corn chips and salsa. As well as the obligatory glass of Burgundy wine. I made a split pea and potato soup which we ate with a crusty French baguette.
Chalon sur Saône
It was a short trip from Verdun sur le Doubs to Chalon sur Saône the next day. In the driving rain. Chalon sur Saône is a popular marina and people report not being able to berth. They don’t do reservations. Luckily this time of the year it’s quieter. We found a lovely spot side-on. Electricity worked. All good. Thursday 13th October for some reason, the marina was closed. We saw a notice saying as much. Which meant no wifi. No access to the facilities. And we couldn’t go out as we couldn’t get back in. The last two require a code or tag to open the doors or gate.
It’s also colder in October. It was around 6’C. So hard to believe that just five weeks proir we sitting on the back deck, my husband in shorts and myself in a sarong. Now we were wearing long johns, socks and so many layers on our upper bodies I felt like the Michelin man.
After a lunch of left-overs we donned our waterproof jackets, hats and gloves and went walk-about. The Tourism Office gave us the usual walking tour map. And showed us where to find veg friendly places and supermarkets. We did a mini shop-up and went to a cafe with wi-fi to catch up on comms over a Thé Vert (green tea) and, would you believe a Soy Latte?
Chalon sur Saône
Supper was a vegan corn and potato fritatta with salads. We discussed visiting the only veggie restaurant – La Pierre Vive – but my friend felt it was too expensive at €13.80 for the buffet. She’s traveling on a really tight budget and been using – Warm Showers – a free Airbnb type accomodation for cyclists. Or, friends like us to avail herself of free accomodation.
While we were eating our boat windows were leaking. This is an ongoing problem on our boat. The windows don’t exactly fit the frames meaning there’s a gap where water sneaks in. And the heating worked intermittently. It’s defintely time for Shangri La’s heating to get a service. Yet more things to add to the repairs list. Sigh! The best thing to do in cold weather is pile on the layers and keep warm in bed. And so it was yet another early night.
It rained most of the night. I absolutley love the sound of the rain against the deck. But also the sound of rain splashing on the water. After a brief respite it was raining again the next morning. We knew we were coming back to Chalon sur Saône, so decided to leave the walking tour for a drier day. My other half located the Capitain and paid for our stay. the Capitain gave individual wi-fi codes for each of us. Seemed so promising but of course the wi-fi didn’t work inside or outside the boat. We tried sitting at the office but it made no difference.
Market at Verdun sur Doubs
It’s possible to get International Roaming but for South Africans right now the rates are extortionate. SA has some of the highest data rates in the world. I tried appraoching EE in the UK to upgrade my pay-as-you-go card since I don’t have a contract. They want £18 per month plus £3 per day for a limited amount of data. Really, actually, it’s easier to just go for a coffee every few days to get wi-fi. Not ideal but hopefully one day . . . . . . .
My other half particularly wanted to locate a bricolage (hardware) as his rechargeable torch had seen better days. And he wanted some tape to hopefully tape the gaps on the windows before our boat was wintered. Not ideal, but infinitely better that sodden, damaged wood paneling and water logged, mouldy curtains. We parted ways with my friend so she could explore and we went shopping.