Barging from Loire to Burgundy

The journey begins – here.

 Crossing an aqueduct
Crossing an aqueduct

Saturday 23rd June 2018
Diou to Digoin
I suspected some of the lockies we encountered were students. A lovely young man told us operating the locks was his summer job. He was studying to be an engineer. Spoke perfect English. The jokes always on us when we try to parler (speak) and someone asks if we would prefer to speak English coz it’s obvious we’re bad. And then is fluent. We had a mini convo about how we pronounce things with English vernacular in mind. He was so friendly. I wish we could vote for a lock keeper of the year award because some of them are fabulous. I would be happy to contribute toward something nice for them to win.

Washing the deck while it's warm and dry
Washing the deck while it’s warm and dry

There are a lot of low bridges on this canal and each time we came up to a bridge it was a guessing game with us. Would we or wouldn’t we fit under the bridge? Obviously the radar arch and back awning were down. But a person needs some protection from the elements and so we kept the front awning up. If we suspected we couldn’t pass under a bridge, we quickly dropped the awning and I held onto it until we passed , then we clipped it back up again. Meanwhile my better half had been popping into the boat to peer under motor and when we tied up to keep an eye on the oil/water leak. Since we left Roanne it had been fine. Clearly the new gasket had worked and the dried up seals were back in action. Thank heavens.

Weekends are obviously a great day for cyclists as hoardes of them were on the velo (cycle) route. All friendly and waving at us. In the outbacks of France it’s dead normal for complete strangers to greet each other. A boat passes. Wave. A cyclist passes. Wave. See a fisherman. Wave. Farmer drives by on a tractor. Wave.

Cyclists on the velo route
Cyclists on the velo route

We tied up in Coulanges at 11.20am and hot footed it to the fuel station. They close midday on Saturdays and only re-opened on a Monday. We hoped to fill our 2 x 20 litre Jerry cans at least twice. That put a spark in our step. Our wheelie shopper had been stripped of the canvas bag down to the frame so we could tie the Jerry cans on and not carry them. Forty litres is heavy. Once filled we raced back to fill the fuel tanks and I went ahead with the one Jerry can while my other half filled the boat with the other one. We made it with a minute to spare. It’s a nice, quiet stopping point. They have a machine that dispenses jetons (tokens) for water and electricity. But we opted to keep going to Digoin.

We needed to shop, so tied up in the marina which is central. Made a bee line for ALDI and topped up on provisions. Fortunately we remembered what they had in stock and loaded up. A 200 gram bar of dark chocolate was €1.50, vegan mayo was €1.50, soy milks were €1.20. Like a LOT cheaper than anywhere else.

An obligatory turn at a market
An obligatory turn at a market

Then we went to our usual bar for a drink and WiFi and they were closed. We asked at the nearest Presse/Tabac/Lotto shop where we could go. He suggested the hotel come bar down the road next to the river Loire. Luckily they had WiFi. We ordered a drink. And then another. Finally our batteries were flat and we staggered back to the boat.

The journey continues  . . . . . . 

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