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

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Fragnes to Rully/Rully to Santernay

Wednesday 12th August
Fragnes to Rully
8.5km 8 locks 2½ hours

We set off at 9am and we were very lucky that a cruiser left at the same time, just ahead of us, and they kindly waited for us and we went through the 8 locks together.  As they were in front in the locks they had to pull the blue cord to activate the locks, 3 of which were the deep 5m locks which have floating bollards.  All the locks filled gently which was a relief as last year we found the locks filled quite viciously going up the other way on the Canal du Centre.  

We were aiming for a mooring at Rully, where we knew there was only space for one barge, and we were really pleased to see it was vacant so we moored there at 11.30am.  

We luckily went into the locks with this cruiser
so they had to deal with pulling the blue cord to activate the lock
I bet they cursed when they saw us turn up behind them at the first lock!

These big 5m locks filled nice and gently

Our mooring at Rully
We sat outside late one night to spot shooting stars,
we did see quite a few corkers
Thursday 13th August

We cycled 2km into Rully to try and find somewhere that was willing to deliver wine and cremant to our boat.  Last year we found a cave quite near to the canal but they wouldn’t deliver so we could only buy what we could carry on our bikes. 

In the centre of Rully we found one smart wine producer, which had a sign that said it was open and we went in.  Before we started a tasting we asked if they would deliver to our boat, the lady said yes, but after our tasting and after we'd decided to buy 24 bottles of wine and cremant, she then said they didn’t deliver….she must have misunderstood our previous question….so we explained we’d come by bike and that our boat was only about 5 mins drive away by car and we weren’t  leaving until tomorrow morning but she still said NON!  So off we went again in search of someone who would deliver.  Luckily we found one open and willing to deliver and we ended up buying 30 bottles a mixture of white Rully’s and white and rosé Cremant du Bourgogne.

We then went for a fabulous lunch in the village square, certainly somewhere we would be returning to.

Briday were happy to sell and then deliver our wine to our boat

We had a fabulous lunch in the town square

Friday 14th August
Rully to Santenay
8 km 3 locks 2 hours

We could see our first lock of the day from our mooring at Rully, so at 9am we waited for the light to come on and for it to be green.  Nothing happened, so at 9.10am we rang the control centre number and we were told an eclusier would arrive shortly to fix it.  He arrived in his van, he did something at the lock and the light went green and at 9.30am we went through our first lock of the day.  The second lock was a deep 5m lock, with floating bollards.  We had walked to have a look at it the previous evening, so we knew the blue cord came down where the ladder was at the front of the lock.  After putting our middle and bow rope on the nearest floating bollard to the ladder, I pulled the blue cord, nothing happened, I pulled it again, and again, nothing.  Its quite daunting being in the deep lock, so with no intention of climbing up the ladder out of the deep lock, we rang the control centre again, and the same eclusier arrived in his van.  He then opened the lock house and set the lock in motion for us.  

The third lock was another deep 5m lock, this we think we operated ourselves, although the eclusier was around talking to some hire boats waiting to come down the lock.  The deep locks filled very gently and on the last deep lock we just had a middle line on the floating bollard and I was able to reach the blue cord to pull it to set the lock into action.

We were aiming for Santenay, and had our fingers crossed there would be space at the mooring for us, and there was…..hurray!!  We planned to stay here for the weekend.

We cycled into Santenay, and we bought some more wine, white Santenay and Aligote, and more cremant, and they happily delivered to our boat.

entering a 5m deep lock

I pulled the blue cord and nothing happened
The blue cord is hidden, you find it behind the 5m ladder

Beautiful stretch of canal past Chagny on the way to Santenay
vineyards are in view up on the hillside

We couldn't understand why a small newsagent/tabac in Santenay had a poker set in a smart carry case for sale in the window looking very dusty and with a sun bleached display box.....

.....then we realised that the town may have an interest in Poker as they have their very own Casino
We saw signs to Santernay Casino and thought it was the local Casino chain of supermarket!
We decided as a bit of fun to buy the poker set....it weighed a ton....11.5kg to be exact.  I waited outside the shop with the bikes and sent Kev in to buy it.  The poker set came with a cardboard outer display box.  Kev said to the lady serving him (in english and sign language) that he didn't need the cardboard box.....she then disappeared into the back of the shop and found him a fresh looking set with a box that wasn't bleached by the sun...after he paid for the poker set he then proceeded to take it out of the box and hand the cardboard box back to her and walk out of the shop....I think she must have thought he was mad!!

Santernay has a beautiful mooring

Picnic tables at our mooring with fab views of vineyards
Cooking line caught sword fish on our Cobb BBQ

Saturday 15th August
16km bike ride Santenay to Nolay 

We found a cycle route that uses an old railway line going from Santenay through vineyards to Nolay.  An uphill ride all the way to Nolay, which was not too hard as it was a gentle uphill gradient, and the bonus was that it was really easy coming back.  

Fab views of vineyards on our cycle ride along an old disused railway line
Views along the cycle route Santenay to Nolay

Saturday evening we went for a fabulous meal at Le Terroir, a restaurant in Santenay.  Luckily we’d booked, as in the evening outside there was a sign to say it was fully booked that evening.  We now will not be able to visit Santenay without having a meal there.  The service was brilliant and the food was delicious. 

Walking to the restaurant in Santenay
vineyards in the background
Great meal in a very nice restaurant in Santenay

Sunday 16th August
9km bike ride to Chagny

On Sunday morning we cycled to Chagny, back along the canal.  They have a huge Sunday market, its well worth a visit. We bought our obligatory spit roast chicken, plus some fresh veg and a freshly cooked lobster.  We know it was freshly cooked as it was swimming around seconds before it was put into the oven!

A fantastic fishmongers in Chagny

Weighing our live lobster

Our live lobster going into the oven you can't get fresher than that!
It did taste delicious 

Seurre to Verdun-sur-le-Doubs/Verdun to Fragnes (Canal du Centre)

Seurre to Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
Friday 7th August
21km 1 lock 2 hours

We enjoyed our stay at Seurre, it was extremely hot and humid again which left us feeling very lethargic.  So we didn't do very much except perspire!

We rang ahead to Verdun to book a place to moor.  We were rather confused as we were told to arrive between 12 and 2pm….this is usually when the captainaire’s take their lunch but we found out when we arrived that the captainaire also runs the café at the port du plaisance so prefers people to arrive when he’s working over lunchtime.  We left at 9.30am and made really good time, so we tried to slow down to try arrive after 12, but we still arrived early but luckily the captainaire was there to show us where we were going to moor and he helped with our ropes.  It’s a really picturesque mooring, we were really pleased that we stopped there.

Going down at ecluse Ecuelles
It was another very hot day
Arriving at Verdun sur le Doubs
Verdun is a lovely place to moor

We were very surprised to see a commercial
come past us at our mooring at Verdun
it is coming down the Doubs to join the Saöne
Sunday 9th August
Verdun to Fragnes on the Canal du Centre
20km 1 lock 3 hours

Last night there was a big thunderstorm which helped to clear the air.  In the morning we woke up to really heavy rain.  It was forecast to be a horrible day but we decided to move onto Fragnes, so I dressed in my wet weather gear, waterproof dungarees and jacket.  Luckily there was only one lock to deal with which was the deep 10.76m lock that was going to take us up onto the Canal du Centre.  It was still pouring with rain at the lock.  As we approached we were uncertain if we were going to have to wait a long time as we had read on the VNF website that it was only operating at specific times to preserve water but as we approached the light went green and red and we could see water coming out so we knew the lock we being prepared for us.  We had arranged a mooring at Fragnes and a spot for us was marked out with our name and red and white tape.

Travelling down the river Saöne
We haven't seen much rain for months so we can't complain
Lock 34b to take us up onto the Canal du Centre
Nearly 11m deep

You just about see me at the front getting rained on
Kev kept very dry!

Monday 10th August

We had confirmation from Julia and Richard on Ettie that they had managed to get a mooring at Chalon sur Saone so we set off on our bikes to see them late afternoon.  We managed to find them at their unconventional mooring and we had a great time catching up and talking all things Piper and French barging.  Their guests, Malcolm and Mandy had gone for a look around the city and arrived a while later so we hope we managed not to bore them too much talking about boats.  It was so lovely to see Richard and Julia onboard Ettie, it was a shame we didn’t moor at the same spot, but possibly a good thing as we would have drunk far too much!

Julia and Richards mooring at Chalon
The port du plaisance doesn't like barges our size

Ettie moored up at Chalon

Tuesday 11th August

We got a little lost yesterday on our way to Julia and Richard, but in doing so we found where a Grand Frais supermarket was in Chalon, so we set off on our bikes again and went food shopping.  Even though we were limited to what we could carry on our bikes, we managed to get quite a bit, including a whole tray of fresh raspberries for 6 euros.

It got very busy at Fragnes with hotel barges
this one had problems with a hire boat determined to squeeze through rather than wait