Going down the Canal du Nivernais to Clamecy

Misty, cool start from the toplock mooring

After a quick run over the tunnels to Baye and back we are ready to set off at 9 am to descend the Sardy lock staircase The 16 locks are all painted a different colour and many of the lock cottages are occupied by artists and craftsmen.

The mist soon lifts and we set off as the sun begins to warm up
Bizarre little café put together from bits and bobs
All the locks are painted a different colour and many of the bollards are decorated!

The trip only takes an impressive 2hrs 50 minutes and I wonder if there is a record time from the top to the bottom. After lunch we continue to Chitry-les-Mines to find a made to measure mooring along the quay – a long day of 28 locks and surprisingly only 12k.

Quite a few lift bridges along this stretch

Mistakenly we thought Rachel (from the N.Z. hire boat) had recommended the port restaurant so without really looking at the menu we booked a table for our evening meal using all those locks as an excuse to eat out!!! A learning point is to ensure one reads emails thoroughly as the recommendation was for L’Arden a restaurant across the bridge at a nearby campsite. So we eat out twice this week with the second attempt being a 100% improvement although I would suggest the port restaurant is perfectly adequate for a quick lunch or a leisurely drink. John Tyrrell, a ‘master boatbuilder’, is recommended to us to have a look at the front of our wheelhouse where a corner joint has come loose. After rather a lot of talking he squirts a bit of sealer into the gap and charges 20 Euro but hopefully it will do the job.

Chitry les Mines

On Thursday we leave the port but with no one around to pay we leave 10 Euro in an envelope and hope the right person receives it. The scenery is just beautiful and the lock keepers are so friendly with one in particular picking fruit from the trees for me to try.  For a change I have to get off the boat to work the lift bridges but with only a button to press they are no problem.

Friendly lock keepers along the way

On our way we met up with John and Julia on a barge called Derrineel they have just taken on a part share so when we moor up in Tannay we invite them over for a drink. 13 kilometers and 9 locks. In the 13th century Tannay was quite famous for selling its Clamecy wines in Paris but disease, war and competition from cattle rearing all contributed to its decline. However the French never say never and a group of enthusiasts decided to bring back Tannay wine and now produce 80,000 bottles a year and are especially proud of their pinot noir and chardonnay.ChitrytoClamecy1On Friday morning we cycle up an incredible steep hill to get to the supermarket but with the cupboards bare there is no choice in the matter and once again we are thankful for all the gears on the bikes to aid us but its a quick return freewheeling all the way before travelling 16 kilometers with 7 locks to Chevroches. It is a quiet mooring which had electric and water but not on this trip (“Hors de Service”). We are however treated to a tray of hors d’oeuvres from our neighbour hotel boat –  sadly an invitation to dinner didn’t follow so I rustle up some fish and chips.

Chevroches – moored in front of a hotel boat
Relaxing in Clamecy

Saturday the 16th June after a quick 4.5 miler we take the short cruise of 4k and 2 locks to Clamecy we easily find a mooring in the port as on route a number of hire boats pass us leaving us a choice of moorings. It nice to see Moondance moored opposite with Charlie and Marion who we haven’t seen since we bought the boat in Auxonne four years ago – Marion also a runner and I quickly get into conversation about the intricacies of the art of running whereas many people think it is merely putting one foot in front of the other…….

Charlie and Marion on ‘Moondancer’

The World Cup is on and today France is playing Australia so we become honorary French folk and find a sports bar to watch the match. There is a very friendly proprietor who daubs us with the French colours to help us feel more at home and not long after Ian and Kay an Australian couple from a boat in the port also joins us but sadly for them it is not a good outcome.

Friendly café proprietor running the proceedings
Strategically supporting France today!

Sunday is long run day so we are up early for a twelve mile run and it is lovely having the towpath to ourselves and enjoying seeing the wildlife and also the fact it is not thundering or lightening. In the afternoon we take a walk around the town and follow the trail of the history of timber floating all the way to Paris. Work was not only for adults but children were also enrolled to do jobs including separating and stacking the logs by the individual marks made by each of the loggers.

Beautiful countryside

Monday the 18th June is a very special day because it’s my birthday so after sipping a bottle of Verve Cliquot in the afternoon whilst relaxing on the deck and then speaking to all the kids we walk a short distance to enjoy a superb meal at 2 Pieces Cuisine a restaurant with Michelin references which to be honest does not hold much sway with either Charles or myself but the food is excellent and that is all that matters. As the service is slow we miss the first half of the England match but Laura provides me with updates via text messages and we manage to see the second half together with a group of English folk from a hire boat moored behind us and are all ecstatic when they beat Tunisia 2 – 1.

Birthday girl!
2 Piéce Cuisine Restaurant
Lovely dessert


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