Barging in Burgundy Part 12

Barging in Burgundy Part 12

Barging in Burgundy

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

Day Twenty-Two – 19th July 2017
Chalon-sur-Saône to Chagny
This was a busy day to start off with. We had twenty-one kilometres and 12 locks to cover. The Canal du Centre is not the deepest canal, so you can’t go very fast – which we expected. There were some particularly deep locks, one was 10.7 metres. Our climb for the day was 49.98 metres. And we were locking up. It made sense for me to follow the boat on the tow path so I could help with ropes and activate the locks. What we didn’t expect – was sitting behind a big hotel boat that was either stuck to the bottom of the canal or in no great rush to get anywhere. We couldn’t pass the boat. And we couldn’t fit in a lock with them.

Deep lock

Deep lock

It was hell hot again. I walked most of the day next to the boat in the sun. When we finally arrived in Chagny there was no mooring space left in any of the places marked in Waterways guide to tie up. One nice thing about Chalon is they out out a “We’re Full” sign so you know there’s no space left. We had to tie up out of the town with pegs on the sides of the banks of the canal. Neither of us had the urge to walk back and explore Chagny by that time. All we wanted was a cold shower and somewhere cool to rest. I treated us to vegan ice cream that we bought at Carrefour the day before. Absolutely divine. Just as we were settling down a hotel boat came past us. And warned us that the big one we were stuck behind, was coming past first thing the next day. If we knew what was good for us, we should move.

All good and well but where to? My husband went walking about trying to find a better spot to tie up. He finally found a place further along the canal where it widens a bit and we removed our pegs and ropes to tie up all over again. Neither of us was particularly hungry so I made a soup. But we both felt we more than deserved a chilled beer and a glass of wine or two.

Looking for a place to tie up

Looking for a place to tie up

The thing about wild stops is they are so nice. We wondered why we hadn’t done more of them. They’re free. They’re away from people. And it’s so peaceful in a secluded spot. We sat naked on the back of our boat sipping wine when a squall started brewing. Thunderbolts and lightening – the full works. The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the beautiful storm before tucking up in bed.

Day Twenty-Three – 20th July 2017
Chagny
As expected, the hotel boat was heading for us 08.00am the morning and we were ready to fend and hold on to our ropes. Canal du Centre is so shallow and Danielle is so big and so powerful, that she displaces a vast amount of water with great force. We could feel her coming a long way off. An unsuspecting hire boat heading in the opposite direction was spinning violently from the force of the water. They lost total control of their boat and nearly crashed into us. Their boat lurched back to front and side to side. No amount of trying to use the engine would work. Poor boat was flung against the side of the canal repeatedly. By the time Danielle had passed, all our mooring pegs were uprooted. I wondered how many other boats are casualties in boats like Danielle’s pathway, and if there had ever been serious damage.

We walked down to Chagny and it’s a gorgeous town. I imagine it’s sort of place where people retire and artists or creatives escape city life. Chagny has lots of nice looking eateries and brasseries including a 3 Michelin Star restaurant. We had a peek at their menu. The cheapest item was a ‘tasting menu’ consisting a ham and foie gras starter, a poultry main course and a rhubarb cream dessert for €82. Clearly not for us. The Waterways Map Book said there was a Market Day on Thursdays but it turned out to be more like three traders who set up and sell their wares.

Chagny

Chagny

My better half had been stung by what he thought was a bee. He developed an itchy, hot, raised red spot on his arm, which wasn’t getting better. I vaguely remembered nettles were good for stinging conditions so picked nettles from the tow path next to the boat and brewed them to make a tisane for him to apply. We decided to spend another night having a wild stop between the canal and a cycle path. So peaceful. It’s not possible to be stressed in such surroundings.

Much later in the day we did a two-for-one – exercise and explore – and walked 3.5 kilometres along the tow path, down through the valley, to Santenay via Remigny. Hoped to have a glass of wine there since it’s part of a wine route. Both are also picture postcard pretty towns. We saw a few full-on restaurants but no pubs or street cafes. So walked the 3.5 kilometres back through the vineyards and along the canal to our boat and had wine on our boat instead. It was nice to have a change from the canal. Between exploring Chagny and the other two towns, we clocked 20 000 steps.

Barging in Burgundy Part 11

Barging in Burgundy Part 11

Barging in Burgundy

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

Day Twenty-One- 18th July 2017
Chalon-sur-Saône
This was yet another scorcher of a day. The French don’t seem to fear the sun much. I was the only muppet slathered in three layers of sunscreen, one of which is a fierce zinc-based white sun-block which gives me a ghostly pallor. Plus a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and light jacket to cover my arms. People were on their decks soaking up the full force of the sun’s rays, then hosing themselves down to cool off. And going straight back into the sun. Golden old men were squeezing their bits into teeny tiny swimwear. Not a good look in my book. Must be my Celtic heritage, but I can’t think of anything I enjoy less than lying about in the sun.

Covering the boat to keep it cool

Covering the boat to keep it cool

A return visit for lunch at La Vie Pierre was definitely on the cards. Their “eat-as-much-as-you-want” lunch costs €13.80. The buffet has a wide selection of hot and cold, mostly vegan, but all vegetarian foods. A plate each, plus a pichet (pitcher) of wine and a dessert to share – came to €33.00 and some change.

The whole of France was obviously marking down summer items and every single shop had sales (soldes) signs on them. And there were some real bargains to be had. Not that I need anything, but at Monoprix I succumbed to two pairs of trousers marked down 70% to €6 each. We discovered a huge Carrefour supermarket a short walk from the marina. If only we had bothered to look left when we crossed the St Laurent Bridge. Around 19.00pm when the heat was starting to abate, we took our shopper and did a shop up. A person never knows what to expect en route. Some little towns have proven to have lovely eateries and good supermarkets. Some have not.

Chalon sur Saone

Chalon sur Saone

And what a fabulous supermarket it is. There was an entire section of organic wines. A whole freezer with vegan frozen foods. We got well and truly carried away. Walking back with our shopper we passed the boat behind us. Poor bloke only had one arm. In the morning he was trying to cover their boat all alone, while his wife was screaming at him from inside the boat. He dropped his glasses and a few things in the water. I managed to save the glasses as they were in a pouch. The rest sank fast. He was sitting all on his own watching telly. I was sad for him.

 

Barging in Burgundy Part 10

Barging in Burgundy Part 10

Barging in Burgundy

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

Day Eighteen – 15th July 2017
Tournus
It was nice to have a second day in one place. No rush to go anywhere and a chance to explore a bit more. Plus we got to catch up on non boating things. It was also Market day in Tournus. We came back with a pile of fruit, some interesting looking squashes, as well as kale and greens for €11. My other half had been wanting to make a Ratatouille.

We went up to the Tourism Office to catch up on comms and then to the large Carrefour to buy charcoal, beer, wine, soy milks and a salad spinner for €5. Very handy with all the sandy green leaves we had just bought that had to be washed well.

Meals on board

Meals on board

I usually bring over books to read. With little to no Internet on the boat, it’s much easier to catch up on reading. Less distractions. The previous year I finally got around to reading – My year of Meat – which my mother gave me. And glad to have read it. This year I read – The Happy Vegan by Russel Simmons – given to us by a friend. It’s a bit like preaching to the converted as we’re already vegan, but always good to remind ourselves why we do it. And get some new insights or ideas.

The sun was only setting at about 21.30pm so going for a run was proving difficult if I wanted to avoid the heat and get to bed at a reasonable time. But I managed a slow jog at 18.30pm along the tow path. It was also a cycle route so encountered cyclists and fishermen and women. I came home to a lovely shower and a divine supper made by my husband. But not before I met yet another South African couple making their way along the waterways. Had a quickie chat then helped them with a hire boat that was busy crashing into them.

Back up the River Saone

Back up the River Saone

Day Nineteen – 16th July 2017
Tournus to Chalon-sur-Saône
It was a Sunday and all of France was out and about enjoying a glorious day. Not too hot, but lovely and bright. The French are near obsessed with fishing it seems. They set up tents next to the river and are happy to dedicate whole days waiting around for fish to appear. They also sit squashed together in tiny little boats dangling multiple rods into the water. And water-skiers and speed boats were out too. Racing up and down the River Saône causing our boat to wiggle and rock from side to side.

We loved Tournus. But if we hoped to get a spot in popular Chalon-sur-Saône we had to get moving. It’s an exceptionally busy marina. When we arrived two blokes came and literally tied the boat for us. They probably want to make sure they utilise all the available mooring space adequately, but it was really helpful for us as we didn’t have to do very much. We spent the rest of the day planning what shopping had to be done as this was our last chance at a big place to shop. And checking out which of the villages on the Canal du Centre would be best to tie up.

Chalon sur Saone

Chalon sur Saone

I made us brown rice and pea rissoles with a big green salad. We ate on the back deck and saw a French boat arrive after 21.00pm. By then there was no space left. Not even on the banks outside the marina. They tried to settle in various places, eventually trying to double-bank to a Dutch boat in front of us. This boat was bumping into us and we were fending his boat and their growling dog off. The Dutch bloke was having none of it and chased them away. An argument ensued. Eventually the boat left to go, who knows where, at that time of night. I asked the Dutch couple what transpired. Apparently you can’t double bank in a narrow through-way. Which it was. It’s not so much a regulation as boating etiquette. The Saffas we met the previous day pointed out a boat that had pushed in front at locks. Yip, you get them, even on the waterways.

Read more – here.

Barging in Burgundy Part 9

Barging in Burgundy Part 9

Barging in Burgundy

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

Day Sixteen – 13th July 2017
Louhans to Cuisery
It’s always nice when you know where you’re going. It helps to plan to tie up better, the wi-fi code is already in your phone and you know if you want to eat on board or eat out. We made our way back along the Seille for another night in Cuisery. The trees almost lean over and touch the boat. Various birds either sit motionlessly on the side of the canal or swoop on ahead. Behind the trees are farms with big rolls of hay and cows meandering. I even saw Chateaux (castle) Loisy up on the hill. The locks on the Seille are all manual. You wind and open the gates and paddles yourself. Which I think is easier than the remote-control locks. Less to go wrong. But then the locks aren’t particularly deep.

Cuisery Halt Nautique

Cuisery Halt Nautique

The mooring spaces for visitors, should in theory, be for visitors. But we saw some really forlorn looking boats for sale occupying public moorings. And worse, some of them tie up side-ways taking up extra space. In high season mooring space is at a premium, so not sure how they get overlooked. Back in Cuisery we saw three hire boats in a row with South African flags. We’ve seen lots of Brits, Germans, Swiss, the odd Scandinavian and people from down under. Even learnt to tell the difference between a New Zealand and an Australian flag. New Zeland flags have red stars and Australian flags have white stars. A few other minor differences, but that’s what I remembered. But it’s always a treat to encounter fellow Saffas on the waterways of France.

Day Seventeen – 14th July 2017
Cuisery to Tournus
Fortunately the locks on the River Seille are manual as it turned out this day was Bastille Day. We kind of noticed loads of people out and about during a work day. There was a bit of a festive feeling to the day. That evening we were bombarded with crackers and various sounds like gunfire. It felt like we were in the middle of a war zone. Thank God we don’t suffer from PTSD or are animals. The stress off all the fireworks would have sent us clean over the edge. I would have been OK with a controlled Bastille Day thing. But some unsupervised kids were letting off a huge stash of crackers on the jetty right next to the boats.

Louhans

Louhans

The next day my other half noticed oil underneath the engine. I hate when he picks up something. I fear big fat bills. But am ever grateful he knows what to look for. En route he had his overalls on and was down in the bowels of the boat peering with his mirror at the engine. He seemed to think there was a leaking tappit cover gasket. Whatever that means. It would have to wait until we finished up in Roanne and put Shangri away until the following year.

We thought we had followed the Waterways Guide and tied up in the right spot, but an anxious looking French bloke came knocking on our boat muttering for us to move. He had three hire boats coming in and needed space for them to park. Since there was nowhere for us to go, he relented and said we could perch right at the end of the jetty. Not long after a Dutch boat made the same mistake and were also chased away. They tied up to our boat and double-banked. I remembered how the Dutch double, triple and even quadruple bank their boats. First time I had seen it in France.

River Seille

River Seille

I love trying to veganise French food. Supper was crêpes filled with leeks and green cabbage, sautéed in garlic and vegan butter. And that divine grated carrot salad (carottes râpées) you buy at the supermarkets. Can’t get enough of it.

Read more – here.

Barging in Burgundy Part 8

Barging in Burgundy Part 8

Barging in Burgundy

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

Day Fourteen – 11th July 2017
Pont-de-Vaux to Cuisery
Our day started with us taking down part of our awning to get to the radar arch, which also had to come down. This is so we can squeeze under the 3.5 metre bridges en route. When my other half was looking to buy a boat, he factored in the depth and height with everything down so we could travel most of France. What we didn’t consider, is what a flipping nuisance it would be having a radar arch occupying most of the back deck while going in and out of locks. And when tying up stern-to (backwards). Most other radar arches seem to connect lower down. It’s merely a case of stepping over them. Ours joins at about waist height. So when it’s lowered, it’s too high to step over. And too low to climb under. The previous owners had two wooden planks they rested the arch on. My other half joined them together lifting the radar arch so you don’t have to duck quite as much. But we still trip over the thing or bang our heads on it.

Greenie

Greenie

I would have liked us to store the radar arch at one of the marina’s while traveling in France, but the horn, navigational lights and radio aerial are all attached to it. Having all that gear does improve the re-sale value of the boat. But it’s amazing how much gear people travel with on the waterways, that they never, ever use. Despite almost every boat traveling with a rubber dinghy and outboard engine, I’ve yet to see anyone using them. People schlep bicycles up and down the sides of their boats, through gates, along gravel and grass, when it would take less time, and be easier to simply walk. Most of the time they’re pushing their bikes.

As we got going, I untied the ropes and broke lots of spider webs that pop up over-night. How do they get into those tight knots? I don’t like upsetting the spiders as I open coiled ropes, but it must be done. The river Seille is beautiful. And our next stop Cuisery, is also a lovely spot. It was a fishing come camping come boating spot. A very nice bar restaurant and comprehensive facilities including a swimming pool and high-speed Wi-Fi. The village is a fairly steep walk up a hill with loads of quaint bookshops.

Pont de Vaux

Pont de Vaux

You can always tell a nice area by the amount of hire boats around. There were plenty of them in Cuisery. We shared a lock coming in with a young German couple. It was a manual lock and the young woman had no idea what to do. My husband was trying to show her and when he started opening the paddles of the locks she hastily opened hers without realising it has to be done slowly. Fortunately our boat was OK but their boat swung around and bashed on the walls of the lock.

En route to Cuisery

En route to Cuisery

Day Fifteen – 12th July 2017
Cuisery to Louhans
One of my favourite things about traveling the out-backs of France, is lying in bed listening to church bells. Near or far, one or many, they count out the time as night rolls on. I can also tell the time when I wake, by listening out for chimes. I would have loved more time in Cuisery. Some places are nice, some . . . not so nice, and some are like Cuisery, are really nice. We spent our last evening alongside other boaters, opposite mobile homes, beneath oak trees and next to an eatery come bar, listening to people, birds and bull frogs. The air was heavy with food smells, laughter or chatter and the damp scent of lots of trees. As the sun slowly dropped and it got steadily darker my better half and I felt truly grateful for our lovely boat and time on the waterways together.

The next morning bright and early, someone decided to start trimming the hedges between the boaters and the campers. We were woken by the sound of this machine slicing away the tops of the hedges. Which prompted us to get going sooner rather than later.

Amenities in Cuisery

Amenities in Cuisery

I can see why this is a popular boating area. It’s tranquil and lush. You can’t go very fast as the Seille is shallow in parts. Hire boats don’t seem to get that memo and race past creating a massive wash, thus causing the other boats to teeter and wobble. Louhans is known for it’s 157 shops with arcades. It’s well preserved. We saw wooden inserts in walls and ceilings as well as wooden pillars still holding out. Big stones in the walkways are polished smooth from years of use.

We would have liked to stay longer in Louhans but we were two days behind our planned schedule. One thing we didn’t factor into the scedule, was time for a bit of maintenance. My other half had a list of repairs that needed doing and it wasn’t happening. But a quick drink at a bar in the main town was definitely on the cards. And we found a LIDL and a Biocoop health shop about a kilometre out of town, so did a bit of shopping.

Read more – here.

Louhans

Louhans

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.

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