Tuesday 10th July 2018
Chalon-sur-Saone to Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
My better half does all sorts of things I don’t even know about. He’s a ship captain and gets (for the most part) how boats work. Before we left for Paris he closed all the sea cocks and places where water moves within the boat. As we geared up to leave Chalon-sur-Saone he started the engine and checked cooling water was coming out the exhaust. This particular morning – it wasn’t. He topped up with water. But that wasn’t working either. Turns out the water cooling inlet was so clogged with weeds that it couldn’t function. He eventually attached our hose pipe to water from the quay, pushed the hose deep into the system, turned the tap on full force, and blasted the weeds out. That worked and we got the system going. Only thing is when we took the hose pipe out we never got to the quay to turn it off fast enough and the saloon was given an almighty hose down of water. But hey, we saved €60 an hour plus transport getting an engineer in.
It’s not often we pull our fenders up as there’s always a lock around the corner but with not a single lock for the entire day, we brought them on board. Being on a river versus a canal is such a contrast. No lunch time delays. We could go a bit faster and give the engine a bit of a workout. Not too much of a workout as there were canoeists doing their thing and a wake could capsize them. It was a perfect day. A bit cloudy, not too hot, and no rain. We’d commented on how few boats were around this year compared to last year on the canals. On the Saone, we saw boat, after boat, after boat.
I defintely think boating is a two person thing. No doubt my better half can manage without me 90% of the time. But you need four pairs of hands sometimes. It’s when you’re tie-ing up and juggling ropes or fenders that having an extra person is crucial. Even if all the extra person does is hold a rope.
At Verdun-sur-le-Doubs we slowed down and pronto a young chap came down and asked us firstly, if we spoke English or French, and then how many nights we planned to stay. He motioned where he wanted us to tie up. It’s a stern to (backwards) tie up so I had to move fenders to the back of the boat. As we were manoevreing the boat to move the rear in and were about 5 metres from the quay, a Swiss boat tried to go straight into our spot. At first we though he was aiming for the quay next to us. Then we realised he was going to cross our boat while we were moving. We motioned for him to stop but he ingnored us. The youngster from the Capitainerie had to shout at him to wait his turn. To be fair to him, I don’t think he could see or hear us. There are a lot of seriously old people driving boats.
His partner was a glamourous woman in high heeled espadrilles. Not the sort of attire conducive to boating. But gorgeous none the less. She clearly had no idea what to do. He motored full throttle toward the quay, then hit his bow thruster hard. His boat was going all over the place smashing the quay and bashing into our boat. The youngester from the Capitainerie, the glamourous woman and my husband and I were fending off his boat from all angles.
Verdun-sur-le-Doubs filled up shortly after we tied up. It was a mix of hire boats and owner boats. The bar come cafe at the marina was full as it was Soccer Cup 2018 semi finals. Boaters were sitting on their decks laughing and talking. I love the smell of food cooking, the sounds of cutlery and crockery, bottles of wine popping open, glasses clinking and people enjoying themselves. It’s very seldom people get loud or rowdy on the waterways. French people know how to behave. And then France won. They made it into the finals. Oh my word, the mood shifted to jubulation. A riot of festivities instantly broke out – church bells, hooters, whistles, vuvuzelas, singing, shouting and utter joy. It was so much fun.
Monday 2nd July 2018 Fragnes to Chalon-sur-Saone None of us rushed to get going. It was another scorcher day to look forward to. Yes, we should have tried to avoid the midday heat, but waking up hot is already exhausting. All of us had burnt red faces, arms and legs. I had watch strap, shoulder strap, shorts and shoe tan/burn lines. It’s just too hot to cover up and sunscreen slides straight off as a person perspires so much.
We explored Fragnes in under an hour. It’s small. There’s lovely brand new bar come cafe. An excellent boulangerie. A hairdresser. Not bad toilets for cyclists and even a bicycle wash. Between Fragnes and Chalon-sur-Saone there’s only one lock and it’s a very deep 10 metre lock with floating bollards. Somehow those deep locks are always impressive. They give a sense of how much you drop or climb.
Chalon-sur-Saone is an excellent marina and we’ve learnt it’s best to arrive late morning. They don’t take bookings. Any boats that might leave – have gone by midday – creating mooring space. But from late morning to early afternoon it fills up fast. We’ve seen boats arrive only to be turned away. As usual there was someone on the quay to show us where to tie up. Oh, and and they help you tie up. Nice!
We got going immediately and went over the bridge to the Tourism Office which closes from 12.30pm – 14.00pm. My friend wanted to find the best way back to Paris the following day. Since the Tourism Office wasn’t open we figured next best was to head to the train station. We had a lovely lunch at one of those cafe type places. My friend had the plat du jour and we had a garden salad each.
Tuesday 3rd July 2018
So nice to wake up and not be on the move. Even better, in one of our favourite places – Chalon-sur-Saone. My friend was going back to work in two days so we let her sleep in. My husband made us an melon, Rooibos tea, ginger and plant protein smoothie for brekka. She packed up slowly and we ambled over the bridge to have a coffee at our favourite place – Cote Saone. Then moseyed up past all the shops toward the train station. Massive sales everywhere – like 60% off! I need blinkers like a horse to avoid seeing bargains. My friend succumbed and bought a few things. I helped her choose.
She had booked a place on Flixbus for €15 to Paris Bercy. Never heard of it. The bus arrived on time, looked pretty comfortable and was air-conditioned. Note to self to look at that for our upcoming few days in Paris with my brother. By the time she left it was 13.30pm and I was ravenous. As usual, most places offer the same old things – Croque Monsieur type sandwiches, pastries, frites, ham, cheese or egg salads. But we perservered and found a spot next to a park that had a quinoa salad and a vegan burger. We sat under some trees and decided to have wine in the middle of the day. It was yet another hot day. What the hell.
The food wasn’t bad, a bit under seasoned and not much protein (the burger was a potato rosti) but at least they tried to put something plant-based on the menu. I popped into Monoprix for a few food items and extra T-shirts for my better half who was going through them fast in the heat. Normally I have to fight to get him to agree to new clothes but he was very happy to have extra tops.
We got back to the boat just as it started to rain. Not much we could do in the rain and after a boozy lunch – a siesta seemed like a good idea. It stormed and rained for a good few hours. The rain cooled the ambient temperature instantly. By early evening it was even a bit nippy. Wonderful not to be hot for a change. Our boat was quiet after someone with us for the last 5 days. A bit of an anti climax. We wrote up our blogs, checked and sized photos and I got onto the Internet to clear out our mailboxes, check the weather and catch up on news, only to find my mother was in hospital. Nothing like bad news to put a damper on things.
Sunday 1st July 2018 Chagny to Fragnes Since we’d heard it was Market Day on Sundays in Chagny, we all trotted into town. The market in Chagny is well worth a visit. It’s big, and a mix of food, clothing, matresses, CD’s – you name it – you’ll find it. Then we had a nice cafe (coffee) and watched the world go by. These small towns can be deader than dead. A person wonders how they survive. Sunday market in Chagny was heaving with humans. Where did all these people come from? Next we stopped at the Tourism Office to ask the lady there if she would help us make sure a lockie would enable the locks so we could get going along the canal. It’s a Sunday in France after all. She phoned and explained to the person on duty at Canal du Centre. I know she understood as she’s lived in South Africa. All good. Or so we thought.
As we got going an Australian family on a hire boat joined us. We approached the first lock and all the lights were off. What more can a person do to get the locks to work that what we did? So I jumped off the boat and pushed the emergency button. No – it wasn’t an emergency – but it’s all there is to contact them. Zero response. I pushed longer. And even longer. Waste of time. After fifteen minutes we gave up and phoned. Again. Half an hour after calling – and hanging about in blistering 39’C heat, the lights finally came back on and we went straight into a chain of locks.
Halfway thorugh the chain of locks – the lights were out. Again. Yet another phone call to ask them to get the locks going. A chain of locks is supposed to be continuous. You’re supposed to keep going. How did no-one notice the locks weren’t working anymore? There is definitely room for improvement with the management of the locks on this stretch of the waterways.
We tied up in Fragnes after hearing it had been renovated. What a lovely spot. Luckily there were a few trees which cast a cooling shadow. People from tied-up boats were sitting on the banks of the canal in swimming costumes or minimal clothing trying not to overheat. My arms and legs were burnt red. Late afternoon a lovely young Madame Capitain came to collect money and explain the workings of Fragnes.
She spoke such perfect English, I thought she might have lived in an English speaking country – but no. Well done to her. I heard a New Zealand bloke next to us say the WiFi was rubbish to her and thought the worst, but I think either he or his phone or laptop was the problem as we found it to be excellent. Some things are improving on the waterways. Yay!
What I loved about Fragnes is that it is nowhere near a highway or a road which is often the case with marinas on the waterways. It’s dead quiet. All you hear is birds, trees rustling and the water lapping against the boat. It’s a quiet spot – but with electricity and water.
Saturday 30th June 2018 St-Leger-sur-Dheune to Chagny My other half made us a chocolate, peanut butter, plant protein smoothie for breakfast. Then my friend and I went to look for a pair of sunglasses as hers had broken. Even if I’m trying hard not to shop I’m more than happy to help someone else shop. We had a little walk around town and along the canal. We wanted to make the most of her time on the waterways. It’s always nice to experience a French market. Sunday was market day in Chagny. We also wanted to go back to Santenay. Last year we hired bicycles at St-Leger-sur-Dheune and cycled there. Cycling is not for everyone. Our bums were stiff and sore after that day out. This time we decided to boat to Santenay, tie up and have a nice lunch there. Then head to Chagny for the night. The temperatures were around 36’C but with almost no wind it felt like 50’C. It’s quite debilitating. My lipsticks had melted and were no longer usable.
We got going around 10.00am and my sunscreen was already streaming down my face. No point in even trying to apply more so I wore my huge big hat. This is a lovely stretch of waterway. We found a shady spot with bollards a short way from Santenay. A few boats had already tied up there and people were swimming in the canal. A kind woman from the boat in front helped us with our ropes, told us how to get to Santenay and also showed us a thing that dispenses spring water hidden in a bush. Without her we would never have known. It’s a metal thing painted green that looks a bit like an ancient fire hydrant. You turn the top and delicious, cold spring water gushes out. One chap was dowsing himself in this water. Maybe it even had healing properties?
There is a fabulous place in the town square in Santenay that specialises in salads. We went straight back there and all had a delicious salad and a glass of Burgundy wine. Followed by equally delicious sorbets and coffees. Then walked the 1.5 kilometres back to the boat, untied and headed toward Chagny.
The marina in Chagny is nice and new. Jettys with fingers and the basics – electricity and water. No WiFi or ablution facilities. Our bill for the night came to €15.60. Only thing is it’s right across a massive 24-hour factory. Not too noisy but not a pretty place to stop. It looks like they make roof tiles or bricks. We took a walk up to Chagny and it was obviously the French were playing a match in the 2018 Soccer World Cup in Russia. People were at bars and pubs with French flags painted on their faces. We had a drink each and some frites and then back to the boat for more salads, this time on the fore deck.
Friday 29th June 2018 St-Leger-sur-Dheune We had a nice slow start to the day. My better half wandered down to the Locaboat office which is also the Capitainerie and got WiFi passwords and a code for the amenities. St-Leger-sur-Dheune has lovely clean amenities, excellent WiFi and a helpful Madame Capitain who spoke excellent English. We had to move our boat a short distance so that a few hotel boats could turn around. I cleaned up inside of the boat and he washed down outside. Since we had WiFi on board I took most of the day out catching up on work.
My friend was due early evening. We popped out late afternoon to the supermarket and did a bit of shopping. Dropped that off at the boat and went to the same lovely Bar come Coffee Shop we’d been to the previous year. It’s over the bridge in the direction of the supermarket on left hand side. We sat on the pavement outside. My phone instantly connected and we did a bit of sharing photos and contacting people over a glass of wine. My friend texted to say she would be late. The driver absconded in Dijon and they had to find another one. She finally pitched up on a teeny tiny two-coach train. So cute. We walked her back to the boat.
As we turned on the water pump I heard a dripping sound. My other half always says I can hear a gnat fart. I insisted there was something wrong and located the area in the boat where the noise was coming from. Turns out the water pipe had come loose at the hot water cylinder and was pumping water into the bilge. Fortunately my better half has gotten into the habit of turning off the Water Pump when we leave. After our epic disaster in St-Vitry-le-Francois, one of us has learned a valuable lesson. He refitted the pipe but wanted to do a bit of pipe replacing and refitting as soon as we had time and access to a decent Bricolage (harware shop).
Sigh! A boaters work is never done.
After all that stress we had to have a glass of rose on the back deck. Then a big fat salad. And chatted until nearly midnight. It was just to hot to go inside the boat. It had been days on end of hell hot temperatures. No matter how many drapes we placed over the boat to create shade, it was still hot.