River Saone – good to be back

Moored at the port in Lyon next to Wanderlust – and a large shopping centre

We moor in Lyon next to Wanderlust another Piper Barge with Dave and Becky who we met very briefly a few years previously when sharing a lock at Auxonne so enjoy sun downers one evening on their boat and the next on ours. Also arriving in the port is yet another Piper Barge Emily with Cindy who I have corresponded with but never met so its nice to put a face to a name and she bobs on board Bluegum for a drink. Cindy is new to boating so waits for family and friends to join her when she travels. On her trip down The Rhone she is accompanied by David and Gill Piper so is getting some expert advise along the way. The port at Lyon is conveniently next to a large shopping complex so its rather nice to enjoy some retail therapy although these days I am only interested in running gear…… There is a large supermarket within the complex so its a good opportunity to stock up on all the heavy stuff.IMG_2134

View from the old part of Lyon across the River Soane

We also enjoy being tourists and take a walk to the old part of Lyon – we could have taken a bus or tram but I think the walk is good for us and then climb up to the  Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls which was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill at what was then the confluence of The Rhone and Saone.

Roman Amphitheatre
Tourists for the day

Built in 19 AD The Romans certainly knew how to build something to last as the amphitheatre is amazingly well preserved. The area is now used for concerts and shows.

Notre Dame de Fourviére
Stunning interior

Nearby we find the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviére which was built betwwen 1872 and 1884 on the site once occupied by the Roman forum of Trajan. Fourviére is dedicated to the Virgin Mary to whom is attributed the salvation of Lyon from the bubonic plague which swept Europe in 1643 so in December of each year candles are lit throughout the city to give thanks – in addition the Virgin Mary is also credited with saving the city from a Cholera epidemic in 1832 and from a Prussion invasion in 1870.


On Wednesday the 9th August we leave Lyon to slowly start our journey along the River Saone which is a much more sedate river than the Rhone and moor at Trévoux for the night. The town is quite fascinating as until 1762 was an independent principality with its own Parliament.

Magnificent views …
… from the castle at Trevoux

Wandering around the town we find ourselves once again climbing a steep hill to the ruins of the castle to enjoy the views across the countryside – and once again Charles thinks I’m trying to do him in!!! In the morning a gentle 24 k cruise takes us to Belleville sur Saone which has a nice pontoon with free electric and water and a couple of restaurants specialising in frogs legs – we decide to give them a miss. The town is around 2 to 3 kilometres away which we visit and find the usual pharmacies and hairdressers plus an opportunity to buy provisions. We decide to stay for two days so I can get back into my training and enjoy a lovely run along the bank passing so many fishermen who by their expressions think I’m crazy – we get back just before the heavens open great timing.

Town quay in Macon

On Saturday the 12th we moor up in Macon on the quay which is free but without facilities but is in the town centre unlike the port which is quite a few kilometers away. Macon is one of the oldest cities in France but was badly damaged during the religious wars which explains why despite being over 2000 years old has few relics of the past. We enjoy wandering around the streets and seeing the 16th century wooden house with its risque carvings and of course the obligatory church. In the evening we are entertained by a band playing on the quay which attracts quite a crowd – and for once they are rather good and I don’t think even Ni (Gesina) would object to listening to them.

Cormorant with a catch on the Canal de Pont-de-Veux

We are in no rush so decide to explore the Canal de Pont-de-Veux (PK97.5) which is only 3.5 k long. Its rather narrow and shallow but manage okay and are not affected by weed. The port is surprisingly large and full of boats. The town is a typical example of the Bresse Burgundian region and is famous for the Bresse chicken however I give it a miss.

Proper free-range Bresse chickens

It is a small town which we enjoy wandering around and visit The Chintreuil museum which is hosting an art exhibition from local artists – some good and some with a need of tuition. We would definitely recommend a detour from the Saone to visit this place.

Good moorings at Pont-de-Veux

IMG_2193The history of Pont-deVeux is rather interesting when Louis Auguse Bertin the local nobleman agreed on request from the locals who were fed up of being cut off from the rest of the world to dig a canal to the Saone on the condition that they pay taxes for 12 years. The work started in 1783 but in 1789 the Revolution put a stop to the final pieces of work and with the abolition of privileges the inhabitants refused to continue paying the taxes. In 1844 the Government completed the work but there was one huge drawback  where the canal joined the Saone  the towpath was on the opposite side  resulting in boats having to cross the river on each trip which could be dangerous.  It became redundant in 1954 until 1994 when it reopened for leisure craft.

Another beautiful sunset
Just like old times!

Our next detour from The Saone is to explore the 39 kilometers of  La Seille (PK106) with its four locks three of which are manually operated by the boaters which is fun. We pass La Truchére, Cuisery, Loisy, Branges and Louhans.  In the beginning of the 19th century the river was used for transporting coal and stone to Louhans. Descending traffic carried grain, timber and barrel rings for the wine growers of the Saone and Rhone valleys.

Wild mooring – interested visitors

This a very pretty river and we enjoy wild mooring mostly due to the fact that the ports are geared for boats that can moor stern on but it is so peaceful we enjoy the tranquility. The downside is we don’t visit the towns and we miss exploring the many bookshops in Cuisery being one of the four book towns in France with rare additions as well as cheap paperbacks. At Loisy we see hundreds of white Bresse chickens roaming free giving a literal meaning to free range.

On Thursday the 17th we return to The Saone  and Charles is enraged with a hire boat sharing La Truchére lock when it overtakes us as soon as we are on the Saone and then believe it or not tries to take the only mooring space left on the quay in Tournus – don’t be disappointed though Charles is not to be outwitted and slowly but surely encroaches on the hire boats space making it move up and we nicely fit in and not wanting to be spiteful we are in a better position to utilise the mooring rings than the hire boat – and that’s the thanks you get for letting it share a lock with us!!!!

We enjoy a couple of nights in Tournus and we have lunch at Le Fenelon near to St Philibert Abbey which unusually actually has a vegetarian dish. Tournus is a lovely place to to wander around with its narrow winding streets especially when the sun is shining and there is no urgency to do anything which to be honest is how our days mostly pan out.

A rather small Piper owned by a French couple moored at Gergy

After enjoying our Sunday treat of croissants we leave Tournus and travel 47k with 1 lock to arrive in Gergy a small pontoon for four boats  – there is a space which I believe we can fit in not that I’m manoeuvring the barge but Charles has ever faith in my judgement which is usually right. However on this occasion I’ve cut it fine and although there is space its tight. To exacerbate the situation there is a small cruiser moored at the end of the pontoon with a very irate French man shouting ‘I don’t like, I don’t like’ and starts kicking at the stern of our boat.  We’re close but not that close and he is making a bit of a fuss – but of course it’s not our boat and also I notice it’s for sale so I guess he doesn’t want any damage. Fortunately after watching us go through this escapade a large moored boat indicates he is now going to leave – everything is in the timing!!!!! So safely moored up without anymore to do’s I smile at the couple with the boat for sale and check that no damage was caused – all’s well that ends well….I have abstained from alcohol for over a week to compare my long runs and to ascertain if it indeed impedes on my performance.  Unfortunately according to my experiment it does….which to be honest is a bit of a bummer. I run 20 miles and find that I am 5 seconds a mile faster plus running two additional miles to last week.  When we get back we find all our neighbours have left so after a late breakfast we set off for St Jean de Losne and cannot help but smile when we are mooring up by the steps to see the same little white cruiser from Gergy and see both occupants get out and watch us like hawks.  We are not there for long as we are asked to move up to Blanquart’s boatyard to wait for our bit to be welded back on perhaps in the evening or Wednesday morning.

Approaching Saint Jean de Losne

We are happy to see Peter and Gwen on Triton moored up and enjoy drinks in the evening where I break my abstinence resulting in a headache in the morning.

On Thursday morning the welding is completed and we move back onto The Saone and moor up by the steps.

Triton being craned out for the winter

In August we have travelled

581.5 kilometers with 27 locks




  1. Hi Sally and Charles,

    We met in Gray (River of Saône) in June 2014, just some days after you bought your Piper boat and since then I read every of your posts with great interest. I follow your path and I dive into your journey descriptions as if I where with you. I have big admiration of your sporting efforts too since I practice it regularly as well. I wish you all the best and hope that you can continue to travel like you did in the past 3 years for many more years to come. I was a little bit worried when I did not receive any posts during the last wintertime but since you are on again, everything is fine. Whenever you should start thinking of abandon this way of living I would like to make it on your waiting list (how long is it?) and let me know should Bluegum become available one day! I got early retired by end of last year and I am hesitating between buying sometime a large motorhome or living on the water in France like you are doing, since my wife is French!

    Thank you again for these reports.

    Best Regards from Martin Scherer, Switzerland PS: I attach this picture perhaps you remember us (Orange shorts, that’s me). You helped us to moor, I guess it was in Gray on 2.6.2014?


    • Hi Martin,
      So good to hear from you and great that you are enjoying our blog – we try to keep it up to date but time runs away with us and before we know it another month has passed. We love our life and cannot recommend it enough – you will be the first to know if and when we decide to sell Bluegum. She is a lovely boat with all the comforts of home and very easy to manage. Unfortunately we haven’t received your photo so cannot put a face to the name perhaps you could resend.
      There seems to be a theme with the boaters we meet in that when they sell their boats they buy a motor home but you could always do it the other way around. Kind regards Sally and Charles

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