Home > Travel Blog > 2014 > June



During June we have travelled from Champagne to Burgundy, a slow leisurely uphill route to Langres and then downhill to the River Saone, achieved easily in just two weeks and in no rush. Many of the 114 locks are automatic but a good bit of the southern section is manual and daily distances are reduced to 12km or so. Each day the lock team came to ask for our intended travel plans so they could organise their work. Students can earn a pretty penny if they sign up for a month and it is a hard physical job working alone in the blazing sun. They really appreciated regular cold drinks and help to wind the gates. Occasionally a lock can break down but the engineers have made very prompt repairs. Three cheers for the VNF! (Voies Navigables de France).

Old bateliers' shop, Soulanges   Ecriennes
Old bateliers' shop, Soulanges                 Ecriennes

Winston Churchill Park, St Dizier   Grand Place, St Dizier
Winston Churchill Park, St Dizier              Grand Place, St Dizier

Summer floral displays   Near Joinville
Summer floral displays                         Near Joinville

We saw so many pretty villages; at Joinville there is a lovely mooring with a big garden. The weather by now was really hot and the very loud croaking of the frogs reminded us we're going south and the water so clear we could see our propeller.

Can you see the prop?   Aqueduct near Donjeux
Can you see the prop?                          Aqueduct near Donjeux

Chris had a very special work colleague in Sweden and they've kept in touch. She and her husband live near the Swiss/French border and were recently holidaying with friends in Burgundy so they joined us at Donjeux for a day's cruise, bringing their four friends as well. It was the only wet day for weeks but we had a great time; eight of us squeezed into Esme's wheelhouse for lunch - our biggest sit down party yet. A really special day and we made some new friends, too.

The big lunch   Team shot, Ulla next to Chris
The big lunch                                  Team shot, Ulla next to Chris

The little lock cottages are enchanting. They are rented by the lock keepers even though the locks are now automated. Many éclusiers are retired and have beautiful vegetable gardens, goats, ducks and chickens, often selling some of their produce and eggs.

Beautiful views   and more
Beautiful views                                and more

Riaucourt mooring   Riaucourt, village street
Riaucourt mooring                              Riaucourt, village street

Langres is the summit of the canal at 470 metres above sea level. We spent a few days here exploring the beautiful historic hill top fortress and enjoying lunch at a little bar overlooking the walls with a great view.

Typical lock cottage   Mooring at Langres
Typical lock cottage                           Mooring at Langres

City Walls, Langres   P1080176
City walls, Langres                            With the 'cog' train

Time for a cold beer   Typical street, old Langres
Time for a cold beer                           Typical street, old Langres

Leaving Langres we tackled the 5km summit Tunnel de Malesmes which was quite easy and pleasantly cool in the summer heat. We then started the long descent south through the most charming little villages, though hardly ever a shop, occasionally a daily bread van found by chance. However, we are quite independent thanks to Diana's hoarding – the freezer and cellar bursting. Weather becoming very warm now..........discussions about air conditioning! Solar panels working well and we do not need shore power meaning  much more choice of moorings.

Souterrain de Malesmes   That's a low bridge!
Souterrain de Malesmes                         That's a low bridge!

Parched La Vingeanne   Dommarien, lovely
Parched La Vingeanne river bed                 Dommarien, lovely

P1080216   Which will it be? (sick humour)
Little chapel                       Which will it be? (sick humour)

We arrived at Maxilly sur Saone, the end of the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne and joined the River Saone. What a contrast! The river is enormous, wide and meandering, very different from the narrow canals and many hire boats too. There are four holiday boat bases in this area, not surprising as it is so beautiful and easy cruising. We stopped at Auxonne where by pure chance we met up with old friends Pam and Nick, their friends and family on Avalon – another wonderful summer barbeque evening on the back deck. We even saw coypu right close by, not at all shy.

Big river Saone   With Pam and Nick
Big river Saone                                With Pam and Nick

At Auxonne   Flood marks at Auxonne
At Auxonne                                     Flood marks at Auxonne

P1080253   Fine view from church tower
Posing for the camera               Fine view from church tower

Coypu   Beautiful Saone
Coypu                                          Beautiful Saone

St Jean de Losne is at the crossroads of four canals so has become an important centre for boating and barges. We stayed at St Symphorien where our friends Jan and Ian are moored and spent a very pleasant week, remembering old times, eating lovely food, sightseeing the local area including beautiful Dole. Diana took the chance to re-learn from Ian how to splice ropes (definitely cracked it now). She remained on board while Chris made a short visit to England and explored the area, seeing kingfishers and frogs. On Chris' return we rendezvous-ed with Kiwis Michelle and Craig on "Avonturier" and Aussies Bardy and Graham on "Effort", friends from the Brugge days so it was party time again. After sad goodbyes we set off for Chalon sur Saone.

Esme with Aleida   Beautiful Dole
Esme with Aleida                               Beautiful Dole

P1080313   The Old Hospital, Dole
Dole                                The Old Hospital, Dole

Party time   Goodbye till next time
Party time                                     Goodbye till next time

The end of June is about the halfway point of our summer in both time and distance. Next the Canal du Centre. More news in a month.
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