Friday, 27 September 2013

Vincelles to Auxerre

Thursday 26th September
Vincelles to last lock of Canal du Nivernais
14km 7 locks

We decided to eat at the little café/creperie by the quayside in Vincelles last night; it was about 10 steps from our boat.  We wanted to go there as we had seen so many closed down businesses along the way, which is a shame.  You can’t moan about all these restaurants etc being closed and then not go to them if they are open! We want it to be there next year!  We had a nice meal, my flambé crepe was delicious!

There was a hotel boat moored at Vincelles which left for the lock at 9am so we decided to let it get on its way before we left around 10am, but there are lots of hire boats making their way to and from Auxerre and we had to wait at the next lock, and we shared locks for most of the way.  

The trip consists of stretches of river then stretches of canal, which makes it really interesting.  We decided to moor up before the last lock on the Nivernais (river section) at a very nice mooring close to a park with rings to tie to.  It’s very quiet here (until the kiddies playground gets busy late afternoon).  We walked the short distance into Auxerre and visited Aquarelle where we will be leaving our boat for the winter.  We met Mike the owner who we’d spoken to a few times on the phone.  The marina was packed with long-term boats/barges and the hire boats have moored alongside these boats, he advised us to arrive tomorrow after 2pm to give the hire boats chance to leave and enable us to moor up along the quay.

We then walked into town, visited the beautiful Cathedral, enjoyed a glass of Chablis in the town square in the sunshine (where we sat last year when we visited by car and we dreaming of being here on our boat), we wandered around the shops then back to the boat for a BBQ.  Around dusk time there was a terrific noise from the roosting birds in the nearby trees, never heard a sound like it.  During the night we heard another owl, I thought it was a lovely sound, although Kev was complaining about the hooting owl this morning!  He liked it too but said it just didn’t know when to stop!

Friday 27th September
2km 1 lock

After a relaxing morning on the boat we made our last journey for the year to Auxerre and our winter mooring.  We topped up the fuel tanks and then moored up in our final spot for the year. 

From Thursday 25th July to Friday 27th September we have completed 44 travelling days, taking us from Dunkerque to Auxerre with a total of 1068 km with just over 300 locks.  Our first year onboard in France has been everything we’d hoped it would be and more.  We managed to get through sections of canal/rivers before the planned lock closures, we stayed onboard our own boat in the middle of Paris which was amazing and something we didn’t think we’d do this year because of planned lock closures on The Seine.  Most of the time we’ve had fantastic weather, we have been really lucky I am sure. 

The French people have been so friendly and so very understanding of our poor French. 

We’ve not once had a problem in finding water, we’ve never been low of fuel.  Finding a suitable mooring wasn’t always easy at the beginning of our journey but once we got onto our first ‘friendly’ canal, Canal du Loing, its been pretty easy.  I think it will take me quite a while when I get home not to be looking at street furniture that look like mooring bollards and getting excited that’s its something we can moor up to. 

We plan to stay here onboard until middle of next week,to enjoy the town and then its home to UK, lets hope the sun is shining for us. 

The last lock we will do this year

Last low bridge of our trip

Marina is on the right where we will be mooring our boat for the winter

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Chatel-Censoir to Mailly-la-Ville to Vincelles

Tuesday 24th September

Chatel-Censoir to Mailly-La-Ville
13km 8 locks

Not so keen on staying here at Chatel-Censoir as the clock on the church rang its bell for 7am twice and then continuously rang….not a good way to start the morning! 

We hung around thinking that the hire boats would get off early (we hadn’t booked a time for the morning with the lockkeeper) but at 9am the lock gates were open and no one looked like they were moving so we decided to go for it. 

We had a brilliant trip to Mailly-la-Ville.  It was foggy first thing but it soon cleared away to a beautiful morning.  Some stunning scenery, low bridges, 8 locks, all the locks were on our own, and we got to Mailly-La-Ville in time for 12 noon…Perfect!  There was no restaurant in the town, so we bought some steak and had a BBQ.  We moored on some very smart floating pontoons, with free water and electric.  The moorings are on the river Yonne, with  lots of ducks and we saw a Kingfisher.

Wednesday 25th September
Chatel-Censoir to Vincelles
15km 7 locks

We left at 9.20am and arrived in Vincelles at just after 2pm, with a stop at a lock for lunch.  It was another beautiful  day and a fantastic trip on canal and beautiful stretches of the river Yonne.  The mooring at Vincelles is on the river Yonne, so there is some flow.  It was fun watching the many hire boats try to moor up the wrong way on the river, trying to put their bow to land a rope and their stern then flipping around in the flow of the river.  We were able to help and advise a couple of boats to help them successfully moor up. 

There is a bit more in this town. Two boulangeries, a pharmacy, and a large supermarket with fuel, so Kev has completed three trips to get diesel, we are not full but nearly.

We have seen the start of vineyards appearing on the hillside, so all in all a really lovely part of the Nivernais Canal. 

A foggy start to the day at Chatel-Censoir

There is a lock ahead...yes really!

Kev caught a lovely photo of the cobwebs on the locks gates in the early morning mist

Yet another picture of a heron, debs can't rest!

The mist cleared just in time for the Saussois Rocks

See the guys wavig from the top of the rocks,
they were taking photos of us as we went along the canal/river, as I was taking photos of them
Merry sur Yonne

Our mooring at Mailly la ville

Kev captured a great photo of a kingfisher opposite our mooring at Mailly le Ville

Why do they put bridges on corners?
The water was so still....beautiful reflections

Not a cloud in the sky

Such a pretty canal

Vineyards on top of the hill

Our mooring at Vincelles....10 steps from the local creperie...delicous

Monday, 23 September 2013

Clamecy to Chatel-Censoir

Monday 23rd September
Clamecy to Chatel-Censoir
18km 8 locks

Well, we stayed 5 nights in the end at Clamecy.  We really liked the town, we moored where we could have electric and water, plus there was free wifi.  On Thursday Amarok arrived so we had a three great evenings with them, one dinner onboard with us, one dinner onboard Amarok and then we had a cheese and wine evening last night on Rangali and Glynwen and Roger (a really friendly couple) from another Piper boat called Etholle also joined us.  At one point at the port there were more Piper barges than any other make of boat!

We had glorious weather over the weekend, so we caught up on things like washing the boat, painting the wood work with UV filter wood stain, a few walks around the town and surrounding area. We went to the market on Saturday, which was quite a small market, a little disappointing.  It was fun every morning and afternoon watching the hire boats leave and arrive, as it is a favorite stopping place.

Kev busy painting the woodwork in readiness for the winter, one job off the list

Marcia and Charlie busy bees onboard Amarok

A nice surprise to see Etholle arrive though the lock at Clemacy

Three Piper Boats

We set off this morning at 9.30am, we did think that we’d wait until the hire boats had moved off but unusually no one left this morning at 9am, so we quickly decided to go to be in front of them for the day.

We had a lovely days cruising, the canal is really pretty, the sunshine does help though.  We had all the (8) locks to ourselves, and all the locks were in our favour and they are still going down, so very easy. 

Chatel-Censoir is a pretty town on a hill, with a boulangerie, café/tabac, mini supermarket, but all very quiet.  The mooring is by our next lock and there is a Le Boat centre here so lots of hire boats arriving and leaving.  With the weather being so nice we will be having a BBQ tonight. Forecast is good for the next few days.  The mornings now are very cool but once the sun breaks through the mist it soon warms up.

Kev lining up to through the lift bridge

Quite narrow

Beautiful canal

Beautiful medieval Chateau de Faulin

A Locoboat hire boat,
I think we looked quite daunting to them as we came around the corner!

A beautiful old town on the hill

Looking down at the Nivernais Canal from Chatel-Censoir

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Chitry Les Mines to Flez-Cuzy to Clamecy

Chitry Les Mines to Flez-Cuzy (nr Tannay)
13.5km 9 locks and 5 drawbridges

We set off dead on 8.30am this morning to beat the 4 hire boats that had arrived at Chitry yesterday.

It was a cloudy day, bit chilly, and we had some rain but not too much.  I had 5 drawbridges to lift and lower, with me being dropped off and running ahead to get it open before Kev arrived in the boat.  One of the bridges was a push button thing, the others I had to crank either with a handle or a big disk.  The disk versions weren’t very ergonomically designed and were really hard work.

When we arrived at Flez-Cuzy we went for a walk up the hill to Tannay, where had a wander around a very quiet town, and we found a wine cave, where we ended up doing a tour and a tasting.  We liked their wine, it was really reasonable, and the chap telling us about the wine was very interesting, a small amount of English, and he was really passionate about his award winning wines from Tannay. We had our wine delivered in the evening by car, which was handy.  There were three other groups having a tour, who had boats moored up by us, and they had wine delivered too, so it wasn’t just us!  Some of the red we bought we were told would improve if we kept it for 4-5 years….I wonder if we will manage to keep it that long?.

Two drawbridges one after the other.....hard work!

Happy in her work!

Our mooring at Cuzy

Our tour around the wine cave started in a really old room with a big open fire

In the cellars
the children belonged to couple also on the tour, we hadn't kidnapped them!

Wednesday 18th September
Flez-Cuzy to Clamecy
8km 9 locks and 1 drawbridge

It was very windy last night, and it was still windy this morning but it didn’t cause us any problems. 

We had a very easy day in the locks today as we shared with a hire boat with 2 French couples onboard.  They went into the locks first and were very eager to help take our ropes, work the gates so we hardly had to do anything.  Their hire boat is really light, they can hold it with one rope, but in the wind they had a few problems. We had quite a few narrow bits in the canal and they ended up side ways quite a few times, very funny to watch.

We saw a strange sight, a cow in the canal.  We were quite concerned and we went very slowly past, it mooed at us a few times, but as we left it, it turned to eat some very green looking grass so it can’t have been suffering too much.  We told the lock keeper at the next lock so hopefully it will be out of the canal by now.

We are now moored at Clamecy a very pretty little town, with quite a few restaurants.  We've eaten out three times on the Nivernais and we've not had a really good meal yet so we are hoping tonight’s meal will be good.  It was recommended to us, and it is in the Michelin guide so should it be ok.

We are here for at least a couple of nights so we will take some photos tomorrow, it looks like the weather should improve, sunshine is forecast.

Only one drawbridge today, you can see the big red disk on left, you turn this to lift and lower the bridge,
blinking hard work!

This hire boat had real trouble in the wind and getting through narrow spaces,
 it would get stuck in the corner by the bank and the stone wall on the right,
frustrating for them but funny for us to watch

Not what you'd expect to see walking along the side of the canal in the water

While we were waiting for the lock keeper to turn up
we all were scrumping really ripe plums...delicious!