Sunday, 28 June 2015

Gray to Pontailler/Pontailler to Auxonne/Auxonne to Choisey

Monday 22nd June
Gray to Pontailler-sur-Soane
32.5km 2 locks 3.5hrs

On Sunday evening we looked at where we would go next, knowing that we have to be back in Auxonne mid July.  We decided that we would save the rest of the Saône and the Canal Des Vosges for another year when we can do a circular route to include the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne. 

We thought that Dole would be a lovely town to revisit as we have friends coming to see us the first weekend in July, and its such a pretty town with lots of restaurants to choose from.

So we left Gray at 8.30am and arrived in Pontailler at 12 noon.  We thought we’d go for lunch in the nice looking restaurant with outside seating, but it was closed on Mondays, so we went to La Taverna instead and we had some very tasty Italian food.

It was quite windy in the afternoon and evening, and the nearby trees decided to set loose their seeds and our boat was absolutely covered.  We swept some of it up in the evening, but the next morning it was even worse.

These leaves and seeds took days to get rid of

Wednesday 24th June
Pontailler to Auxonne
18km 1 lock 2 hours

Leaving Pontailler....the offending trees were quite a way from the mooring but they still got us!

We left Pontailler at 8.30am to arrive in Auxonne at 10.30am. We moored up on the public pontoons, as there was loads of space.  It’s 10 euros a day if you have water and electric, otherwise it is free to moor.  You have to go to the tourist office to pay.

A lovely sight, lots of space available on the public pontoons

Wednesday to Sunday

Friday Market
We are addicted to these cooked chickens!

They are delicious!

Hurray! Bluegum arrives....we hope they aren't disappointed that we are still here!!

Expertly moored by Charles and Sally, especially as they currently no bow thruster available to use

We decided to stay in Auxonne until Sunday.  Sally and Charles on Bluegum arrived on Friday afternoon and they managed to moor up on the same pontoon as us, which was great.  They kindly invited us for a very tasty BBQ in the evening and we had a super evening with them.  Once they have had their bow thruster repaired at the beginning of July they are planning to go down south, which is a shame,
as it could be a while before we see them again. 

Sunday 28th June
Auxonne to Choisey
Canal du Rhône au Rhin
29km 7 locks 5.5 hours

We set off from Auxonne at 8.30am.  We arrived at the lock that takes us onto the Canal du Rhône au Rhin at 10.15am. Once we’d come up in the lock, we were given our handheld lock zapper, which operates the locks, saving the need for a lock keeper, although the lock 74 did have an eclusier to help with the ropes.

It was an easy trip to Choisey, and a beautiful sunny day.  It’s lovely to be back on a canal again, I like it better as it’s more picturesque than the river.  The river Saône is easier, as there are fewer locks, and its wide and deep so easier to keep the boat going in a straight line. On the canal you have to adjust the steering all the time.

When we arrived at our planned stop at Choisey, it looked full but we managed to squeeze ourselves onto the end of the pontoon at Choisey; half the boat is hanging off the end!  We hope people will move off tomorrow so we can tie up properly.  We love the mooring here, as its so peaceful, just birds singing their hearts out, frogs croaking, and at the moment there is someone in the nearby village playing his oboe and the church clock has just chimed.

We will stay here tomorrow and then go into Dole on Tuesday.

We leave the  river Saöne and are back onto a canal again
Canal du Rhône au Rhin

It was very hot today, so the front window is down to get some airflow

As we arrived at Choisey, we thought the mooring was full, but there was just enough space

Most of the boat is off the pontoon

A few hire boats went by at some speed and we didn't move around too much
We'll get more of the boat onto the pontoon tomorrow

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Auxonne to Lamarche/Lamarche to Pontailler/Pontailler to Mantoche/Mantoche to Gray

Tuesday 16th June
Auxonne to Lamarche-sur-Soane
11.5km 1 lock 1.45hrs

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Auxonne and the H2O marina.  Roy who runs the marina was a delight.

We had a very sociable time meeting up with our good friends Roger and Glynwen on Etholle (Piper barge), new friends, Sally and Charles from Bluegum (Piper Barge), Becky and Dave from Wonderlust (Piper Barge) and Marie and Guy (Piper barge in waiting) drove over from Dijon to look at our Flexiteek flooring to check on the colour choice as they have decided to have that on their new boat.

Roger and Kev caught the train to Migennes early on Saturday morning to pick up our cars.  Glynwen and I celebrated her birthday over a coffee and cake and then we all went out in the evening for a lovely meal at Le Corbeau in the centre of the town.

Auxonne H2O Marina

Auxonne is an old fortified town, with an army training garrison
We liked it here, there are a couple of good restaurants 

Roger and Glynwen making mooring up in a small space look easy

We reluctantly left Auxonne on Tuesday morning around 10am, and headed up river for 11.5km, negotiated one lock, which we shared with a French cruiser and we arrived at Lamarche-sur-Soane around 11.54am.  It’s a good mooring, but somewhat overlooked by motorhomes.  There were 20 motorhomes parked up there by the evening.

We walked to the nearby restaurant further along by the river and had lunch.  We sat on the back deck and read our books, and while we were reading/snoozing, we suddenly felt a big jolt, and when we looked towards the bow of our boat we realised a hire boat was trying to moor up in front of us, but struggling in the wind.  After they had moored up, they were extremely apologetic.   Luckily their bow (with the anchor sticking out) hit our front rope fender, and not the paintwork, so there was no damage.

A good mooring at Lamarche-sur-Soane
Bakers in the town and a riverside restaurant 500m away

We think their view of us and the river was nicer than our view of them!

Wednesday 17th June
Lamarche to Pontailler-sur-Soane
6km 40minutes

The river Soane is a delight but not easy to take a good photo

Arriving at Pontailler-sur-Soane
lot of space on the quay for us-hurray!

We did the short hop of 6km from Lamarche to Pontailler and moored up on the steps just before the bridge.
During the day it was quite a busy mooring with boats stopping off for lunch and then moving on.  Sally and Charles on Bluegum arrived in the afternoon, and we had a lovely time chatting over cups of tea and then again later in the evening, over a few glasses of wine.

The town had a lively feel,  maybe because we had arrived before lunch....
it looked like a nice restaurant
but we had dinner planned so maybe next time we moor here we'll try it out

We were on our own for a short time

But the quay filled up for the evening

Thursday 18th June
Pontailler to Mantoche
24.5km 2 locks 3.5hrs

We left Pontailler at 9am and we enjoyed the trip up the Soane to Mantoche.  The river is quite wide, very wooded, the 2 automatic locks were a dream; very gentle filling, with bollards inserted in the wall to make things easier.  There are quite a few boats around, (private and hire) going in both directions.

The mooring at Mantoche is very attractive, with picnic tables and an old chateau over looking the mooring.  We had a walk around the small town, not much there, and very quiet.

This is a very pretty mooring

Friday 19th June
Mantoche to Gray
6.5km 45mins

We left Mantoche at 9.20am and arrived at Gray just after 10am and found a nice mooring along the quay, just along from Sally and Charles on Bluegum.  There is free water and electric at this mooring, and a supermarket very close by.  We decided to stay here for the weekend.  Moving off on Monday.

Arriving in Gray
The mooring quay is on the right just around the corner out of sight
I was keeping my fingers crossed there was a mooring available for us

And there was
It was great to see Sally and Charlie were here on Bluegum

 Pont de Pierre

Saturday 21st June is the National Fête de la Musique
There was a band playing under the covered market
After drinks onboard Bluegum with Sally and Charles we wandered down to see the band playing

The music was a little like the band 'Madness' hence the funny dancing!
There wasn't a big audience, which was a shame.
When the band finished we went back to Rangali and had a bring your own cheese and wine evening with Sally and Charles, very enjoyable

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Au Revoir Canal du Bourgone - Dijon to Longcourt/Longcourt to Auxonne

Beautiful Fleur de Lys and Amaryllis - sister hotel barges run by Orient Express moored up at Dijon
We saw passengers leave Amaryllis while we were at Dijon and
they looked like they had had a fantastic time onboard, giving all the crew big hugs and waving goodbye
from their minibus right up until the last minute

Leaving Dijon

Tuesday 9th June
Dijon to Longcourt-en-Plaine
15km 14 locks 6 hours including lunch

We left Dijon at 9am and had a pretty easy journey to Longcourt upstream of lock 69.  The lock keeper recommended to moor up above lock 69 as it was pretty with the avenue of trees.  I was pleased to stop as I was getting a headache from the fumes of a cruiser we were sharing a lock with.  It got very windy and blustery in the afternoon, and threatened to rain in the evening but the strong winds moved the black clouds on to rain on someone else!

Longcourt above lock 69

Wednesday 10th June
33.5km 9 locks 7hrs
Au Revoir Canal du Bourgogne

We were ready and waiting for our lock at 9am but unfortunately our lock keeper didn’t arrive until 9.15am. This meant we missed the last lock on the Canal du Bourgogne before it closed for lunch; so when we finally arrived at St Jean de Losne at 1.30pm, the quay moorings were already full.  (Another time we will moor below lock 69).  

We had provisionally booked a space at Auxonne for this afternoon, just incase we couldn’t moor at St Jean, so we continued on up the River Soane.  It was amazing the difference being on a wide river again after the slow canal and all those locks!  We covered 18.5 km on the river Soane with only one automated lock to negotiate in around 2½ hrs.

Our last of the 189 locks on the Canal du Bourgogne
113 going up and 76 going down
The VNF lock keepers have been fantastic

Lovely wide, gentle flowing river Soane

Boats on the pontoon waiting to enter the canal du Rhone au Rhin
about 30 mins cruising from St Jean

Signs in the distance indicating where a short canalised section begins on the Soane

Automated lock, it fills very gently, bliss

We will be staying in Auxonne for a few days.  We are expecting friends Roger and Glynwen to arrive on Etholle (piper barge) by Friday.  The marina is great here at H2O, Roy who is the captianaire is delightful and he was able to recommend a few different restaurants, which was a surprise, as we’d read that Auxonne didn’t have any good restaurants. Lets hope they are wrong and Roy is right as we’ve booked into one for tonight and a different one for Saturday night.

We waved hi to another Piper barge called Bluegum as we arrived into Auxonne, they were moored up on the public moorings.  There was space there for us but as we’d booked with Roy at H2O we didn’t feel we could cancel.  We walked around later to say hi, as we’d not met them before.  They are headed in the same direction to us up and back down the Soane to Auxonne, so I am sure we will see them again over the next few weeks.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Moulin Banet to Fleury/Fleury to Velars/Velars to Dijon

Saturday 30th May
Mouilin Banet to Fleury sur d’Ouche
8.5km 8 locks 3 hrs

We had an easy trip to Fleury, the weather was a bit iffy, but cleared for the afternoon.  We had a great meal in the nearby restaurant called O P’tit Repere du Gout.  It was closed last year for their annual holidays so we were pleased to find it open and had availability.  The food and service was fab.  The mooring at Fleury isn’t great, not that deep and only fence posts to tie up to.

A lock keeper came by on his moped and asked us when we wanted to leave Fleury.  When we suggested 9am the following day, he said NON!  He said he was very busy with hotel boats and only 2 lock keepers, we possibly could go in the afternoon, so we said that was fine, we'd just wait for him to tell us tomorrow.

Sunday 31st May

Fleury sur d’Ouche to Velars sur d’ouche
4km 4 locks 1.5hrs

We had a slow start to the morning, as we knew we weren’t moving off at 9am.  So at 10.30am we were sitting relaxing reading books when a lock keeper came by on his moped to say he was preparing the lock for us which was fantastic, it meant we were able to go the short distance to Velars before lunch.  We came through lock 45 just before 12 noon and we could see from the lock that the mooring had no other boats there, which was great.  Just as we came slowly out of the lock, the bow of a cruiser appeared around the corner from the opposite direction, and was clearly heading for the same spot as us.  I didn’t know our boat could accelerate that fast!  We arrived first but we did leave them a space to moor up but they told us that they were only stopping for lunch so they asked if they could moor alongside us.

leaving the mooring at Fleury

We managed to do a quick shop at the supermarket before it closed at 12.30, and then Kev did a fuel run to the fuel station.  It’s probably the closest and cheapest fuel station we’ve come across in France so far.

Our mooring at Velars - only two rings

Monday 1st June
Velars to Dijon
10 km 9 locks 3.5hrs

We set off about 8.45 to be at our first lock at 9am.  This lock we were on our own, but we then shared the following 8 locks into Dijon with a friendly French couple in a cruiser. Between lock 47 and 48 it was quite shallow.

We arrived in Dijon around 12.30.   There was lots of space on the quay on the right bank but no electric or water.

Dijon port du Plaisance

More hotel boats arrived after this photo was taken

We are having a great time in Dijon, it’s a lovely city.  The weather has turned very hot and balmy.  We got to know another couple called Sharon and Alan on another Piper barge called Drumsara, who invited us for drinks Monday evening and we met a French couple Guy and Marie, who are buying a new Piper 57’.  We had a fun time.  On the next evening we invited Alan and Sharon back to ours and on Friday evening we invited Guy and Marie for drinks. 

New 'Piper barge' Friends

One day we rode our bikes to the nearby lake

A french Nessie?

On Thursday we took the train to Beaune, the capital of Burgundy wine.  Its only 25minutes away and we really enjoyed looking around the old fortified town and its famous 570 years old hospital.  There were lots of very nice restaurants and wine bars, classy boutiques for clothes and homeware, fromageries, etc etc.  Beaune is well worth a visit.

The old hospital in Beaune a very good place to visit, well worth the entrance fee

On Friday afternoon, Amarylis a beautiful hotel barge arrived.  Kev was off having his haircut.  I was very nicely asked if I minded moving the boat along to allow the hotel barge to moor up.  I said of course that would be ok, but I was on my own, so three of the crew including the captain moved Rangali along the quay   A little while later, when Kev was back, the captain, Richard came back with a bottle of burgundy wine.  Kev said he didn’t need to do that, but we thought that was very nice of him.  Luckily in our new position we still have a TV signal so that Kev can watch the F1 on Sunday.

We plan to leave Dijon on Tuesday, if we can catch one of the lock keepers flying past on his moped.  Lots of hotel boats arrived over the past few days so we will have to see when we can be fitted in.  At one point there were 7 hotel barges here.  We imagine this afternoon and Monday will be busy with hotel boats leaving.