Monday, 14 September 2015

Canal du Roanne a Digoin

Wednesday 2nd September
Digoin to Bourg-le-Comte
Canal de Roanne à Digoin
22km 5 locks 6 hours

We woke up to fog.  We’d arranged to go through the first lock on the Canal Latéral à la Loire at 9am.  As we left the lock to go along a short, wide stretch of the canal Latéral à la Loire, the fog was really thick, we could hardly see the cruiser that was in front of us.  The sun soon broke through and we had a great trip to Bourg-le-Comte.  We arrived at the deep lock (7.20 metres) at Boug-le-Comte at 1.15pm, we had to wait for a boat to come down the lock and we were through by 1.50pm.  We moored up just after the lock and had a quiet night in a rural mooring.

A bit foggy as we went over the river Loire

VERY foggy after we exited the Digoin lock

The fog cleared enough for us to see the entrance to the
Roanne to Digoin canal on our left

It is difficult to see if the deep lock Bourg-le-Comte
is ready for us or wasn't....we had to wait for a boat to come down

Only the lower part of the lock opens for boats to go in and out

Leaky lock gates.  The lock fills nice and gently from underneath

Thursday 3rd September

We moved the boat 3km to Chambilly where we stayed until Saturday.  On Friday 4th September we cycled into Marcigny to have lunch in the town, we did some food shopping and went to the Emile Henry Cookware shop to have to look around.

Departing from the nice mooring just after the deep lock at Bourg le Comte

Quite a nice mooring at Chambilly
Boulangerie was closed for holidays!

Saturday 5th September
Chambilly to Artaix
3km 3 locks 1hour 20mins

We are taking our time to get to Roanne at the end of this canal, so when we see a mooring we stop.  The mooring at Artaix is another rural mooring, nice and quiet.

There is electric at this mooring but quite a way from our mooring spot

Its a nice quiet place to moor

 Sunday 6th September 
Artaix to Melay
4km 0 locks 40 mins

We were lucky to find a mooring spot on the quay at Melay.  We are really enjoying our slow trip along this canal.

Tuesday 8th September
Melay to Briennon
11km 0 locks 1 ¾ hrs
There was a lot more space at Briennon this year as a big commercial boat has now gone from the quay.  So that’s good but whats not so good is the church clock that was broken last year is fixed, so it rings on the hour x 2, so at midday and midnight you hear 24 bongs!!  Plus it rings on the half hour too.

We walk to the Briennon lock to book it for 9am tomorrow and our trip to Roanne.

Electric and water for 7 euros

After we had moored we noticed
that there was plenty more space in the port as a
big commercial barge had gone that was moored there last year

Wednesday 9th September
Briennon to Roanne
15km 3 locks 3 hours

We set off at 8.45am and arrived at our mooring in Roanne just before 12 noon.

The canal de Roanne á Digoin is a beautiful canal, with great views of the countryside as you travel along it.  The locks are very gentle; the only downside is that in front of some of the locks there is a strong flow of water (especially on lock 5 Montgraillloux) which makes entry to the lock very tricky, Kev did a fab job of not hitting the lock walls as we entered.  The bow thruster comes in very handy!

Kev helping the lock keepers opening the lock gates

Entering Roanne port
home for Rangali for the winter

The large port is about 1 mile in circumference which makes for a nice stroll in the evening

The view from the bridge at Roanne over looking the river Loire

We’ve already been off for a weekend to Grenoble and the Alps (by car), and we had a lovely time.  We’ve also been socialising with the people who are moored up at Roanne, it’s a very friendly place.

Grenoble cable car 

View going up in the cable car

Beautiful view from the top


We drove to Chambery and came back to Grenoble over the mountains

This will be the last blog of the year as we have reached our final destination.  We are really looking forward to having Roanne as a winter base for Rangali and we intend to visit the boat more regularly during the winter.

Paray le Monial to Digoin

Tuesday 25th August to Sunday 30th August

We spent an enjoyable 5 days at Paray le Monial.  The weather developed into another heatwave and we ended up roasting again!!  We were pleased that we were on electric so that we could run our air-conditioning to our hearts content.  It certainly helped with sleeping at night. 

We did some sight seeing, ate out in a few restaurants, carried on with re-varnishing the wheelhouse and some of our deck furniture, and we went to the market in Paray on the Friday morning, which was a lot bigger than we’d expected.  The mooring had lots of comings and goings, but was pretty quiet by the weekend. 

The mooring at Paray is very good, for our size boat it cost us 13 euros a night, which includes water and electric.  The downside was that there is a big park next to the mooring where they had been a huge event over the summer and they were in the process of dismantling the marquees, which took all week, with clattering and banging, and revving of engines of cranes, high lift platforms and forklift trucks.  Some days they started at 7am not finishing until after 7pm and worked all over the weekend.  It can’t have been easy for them in the high temperatures.

On Saturday we decided we would take the train to Auxonne pick up our car, where it had been since we got back onboard in July.  Paray has a good train service to Dijon and then onto Auxonne.  We had a very nice scenic drive back via Beaune and the vineyards.  We enjoyed the drive because of the scenery and the air-conditioning as it was another very hot day.

On Sunday we drove to Roanne, to leave the car for a couple of weeks as its where we are wintering Rangali.  We’d looked on line to see that there was a train service from Roanne to Paray for only 9.30 euros.  When we got to Roanne railway station to buy our train ticket we found that we would be on a TGV ‘autocar’, which is a very posh coach.  It was actually very nice to be on a bus, we had the front seats and had a great view.  We also had the pleasure of a local radio station and 70’s/80’s music, which you certainly don’t get on the train.  The bus goes eventually onto Le Cruesot where it then links with the TGV train service.

This was being dismantled over the week we were at Paray
quite noisy at times

We saw more monks last year walking around the town
but I did manage to spot one!

Stunning lighting at Paray

Views of the vineyards on the train from Paray to Auxonne

A very quiet Paray at the weekend

Monday 31st August
Paray to Digoin
13 km 4 locks 3 hours

We woke up to another sunny morning, after a very hot and humid night.  We left Paray at 8.40am, and slowly made our way to the first lock.  We’d booked it for 9am, and sure enough the VNF van was there and the lock was ready for us, as was the second lock, with the same VNF man waiting for us.  As he’d been present for the first two locks, we assumed he was going to be at the next lock, which was the final lock on the canal du Centre, but when we arrived, the red light was showing and no sign of any VNF van or man.  We hung around for a while, thinking maybe another boat was coming in the opposite direction.  Eventually we got fed up with waiting and rang the control centre.  We told them which lock we were at and that the red lights were showing.  A few minutes later a chap walked out of the lock keepers cottage went into the lock office and he set the lock into motion for us.  We don’t know what went wrong with their very efficient management of the locks, they’ve been excellent all the way along the canal.

We arrived in Digoin at 11.30am.  We decided not to stop at the port du plaisance as we didn’t need water or electric.  We had planned to stop after the aqueduct that goes over the Loire but we knew there were trees by the mooring and there was a big thunderstorm and heavy rain forecast and we didn’t fancy being covered in leaves.  So after the port du plaisance at Digoin we looked out to see if we could moor up and we found lots of space and no trees.  No bollards but the steel pilings have holes in them that we were able to thread our ropes through.

The forecast was correct and at around midnight we had a terrific thunderstorm, with very heavy rain.  No hailstones, which we are pleased about as we’ve been told it’s the vineyards worst nightmare and they are just about to start their harvest.  We are staying in Digoin until Wednesday as the forecast is not good for Tuesday.

Our mooring at Digoin,
we liked it better than the port du plaisance which feels rather claustraphobic

The river Loire

The aquaduct we will go over to leave Digoin -
The beginning of the Canal Lateral a la Loire

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Santenay to St Léger/St Léger to St Julien/St Julien to Génelard/Génelard to Paray

Monday 17th August
Santenay to St-Léger-sur-Dheune
7.5km 4 locks 2¼ hrs

Departing Santenay
We set off at 8.45am and we arrived at our first lock of the day around 9.30am.  All the locks today were around 2.5m deep, and easy to operate.  We were pleased to see our first lock ready for us and green lights showing, so we entered and all worked well.  Our second lock had two red lights and we hung around for a short time, thinking maybe a boat was coming the other way…..and we were disappointed to see it was a large hotel boat.  We backed away from the lock as the exit had a bit of a corner for the hotel boat to negotiate, and he passed by us, no problem at all.  As the hotel boat went past he warned us of another hotel boat coming our way after the next lock……it was quite a twisty part of the canal, so we took it slowly…..its good to know a hotel boat is coming but its also nerve wracking…..wondering when you are going to meet it.  Luckily it was just after a bend, and we passed each other ok.

First hotel boat of the day

We arrived in St-Léger-sur-Dheune around 11am, and our planned mooring spot was available.  It had been a great couple of hours cruise, sunny and warm, but this afternoon the heavens have opened and we’ve had heavy rain for a few hours. 

We’ve noticed a big lack of barges on the Canal du Centre, plenty of hire boats, a few cruisers, some motor sailboats, but not many barges our size.  We are wondering if the warnings on the VNF website of lack of water this year, and the fact this canal closed early last year due low water levels has put people off coming this way.  We haven’t noticed any problems with depth, so we hope to be able to continue to take our time along the canal du Centre.

When we were in Verdun, we had dinner in a restaurant that used a throw away pourer that was put into the wine bottle we had ordered.  We kept it as a memento of our meal.  It was advertising the name of a wine producer, (not the wine we were drinking) Antonin Rodet, a burgundian wine producer.  This morning, eagle eyed Kev noticed a sign by the side of the canal advertising Antonin Rodet as we came into St Ledger.  We looked online this afternoon and see that Antonin Rodet winery is 5 miles away in Mercurey, and they offer wine tasting tours….so we’ve booked a tour for tomorrow!!!  I like to think that the effort they have made in marketing has paid off.

Tuesday 18th August

Cycle ride to Mercurey

We made a big mistake in not looking at the map properly to see that Mercurey, where we had booked our wine tour was up a very, very long hill.  We also made the mistake in not taking with us our bottles off water and it turned out to be a very hot day.  In spite of this we did enjoy our cycle trip to Mercurey, and the wine tour was pretty good.  We did end up buying some more wine….so that’s it now, no more, we are full to the gunnels!!

Beautiful view from the top of the hill we had just cycled up
Our mooring at St Leger
Lots of Red Squirrels were running around the trees

Wedensday 19th August
St Leger to St Julien sur Dhuene
13.5km, 11 locks 3 hours 15mins

Leaving St Léger on a lovely sunny morning

We had a great trip to St Julien, all the locks worked well.  The St Julien mooring is in the middle of two 5m deep locks and you certainly get lots of movement while you are moored up with the changing levels of water.  We had heard that the restaurant here was pretty good, and we had a walk to look at it as it looked pretty quiet, to find a notice to say they had just gone on their annual holidays!  We didn’t mind too much as we have had some brilliant meals out recently.  We were the only boat moored up here over night, it does seem quiet on the canal.

All on our own!

Thursday 20th August
St Julien to Blanzy
16km 15 locks 4 hours 40 mins

We had a long day, with 8 locks going up, 5 of them the deep locks, but we did have quite a lot of support from VNF guys, especially in the deep locks, which meant we didn’t have to reach for the blue cord to activate the lock.  We were also very lucky that we didn’t have to share a lock until the last 5 downward locks.  We were pleased to find space for us at Blanzy and we stayed for two nights.  

Kev did a fuel top up as there is a fuel station really close by and we also cycled 2km to the nearby supermarket. Its really good only being able to buy what you can carry on your bike, it stops you buying too much!  There is free electric and water here at Blanzy.

Saturday 22nd August
Blanzy to Génelard
19km 9 locks, 3 lifting bridges 4.5 hours

We had a pretty good trip to Génelard, although at our first lock we made the mistake of entering too quickly after a boat had exited, you are supposed to wait for the green light to show before you enter, we forgot to check.   Luckily there was a VNF man at the lock, and he managed to reset the lock so that it worked ok for us.  Lesson learnt!

We were in two minds whether to stop at Monceau Les Mines, if there was a hammerhead mooring available we’d stop, but there wasn’t, so were carried on through the 3 lift bridges.  The first lift bridge has a cord to pull.  We had to wait a little while as there were lots of pedestrians crossing the bridge as it was market day in town.

We really like the Canal du Centre, it is a very pretty canal, nice locks when you are descending, a few twists and turns in the canal to make it interesting, and a few narrow bridges. 

We arrived in Génelard at 1.30pm, with loads of moorings available.  In the afternoon we had a walk around the small town, and visited the WW2 Demarcation Line museum by the port.  Génelard was on the situated on the Demarcation Line between the Occupied Zone and the Free Zone and there was a German Check point in the town, where everyone had to have a pass to move from one side of the line to the other.

There are information points all around the town giving
the history of the town

We decided to stay two nights in Génelard as the forecast wasn’t brilliant for the next two days.  There is a brilliant hardware shop in town, last year we were here, it was closed, I think it was a Sunday/Monday, this year it was closed due to their annual holidays....maybe it will be open next time we visit.

Free electric and water at Génelard.

The moorings at Génelard got busier over the two days we were there.

I love the Art Deco look of this old industrial building in the town

An unusual 'boat' arrived into Génelard

Tuesday 25th August
Génelard to Paray-le-Monial
20km 7 locks 3hours 40 mins

We left at 8.50am and arrived in Paray-le-Monial at 12.40pm.  We shared the locks with a small cruiser that was travelling from Nice to Paris.  All the locks worked perfectly, all green lights when we arrived and there was a nice mooring space available for us at Paray.  We have decided to stay here till Monday, as its one of our favourite stops and the forecast is for hot and sunny weather.  Photos of Paray to follow