Day Twenty-One- 18th July 2017
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
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
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.
Day Five – 2nd July 2017
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.
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
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
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.
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.