The Canal de Bourgogne – Migennes to Saint Florentin

The Canal de Bourgogne is 242 kilometres in length with 189 locks and includes the infamous Pouilly Tunnel with a headroom of only 3.10m and 2.20m at the sides which has been the cause of damage to a number of boats in the past. The canal was built between 1775 and 1834 connecting the valleys of the River Saône and Seine. The only commercial traffic sections today are between Laroche to Tonnerre and Saint-Jean-de-Losne to Dijon so, apart from Hotel Barges; pleasure boats have little to fear…..

Port at Migennes – love the quirky French!

We are disappointed that there isn’t a sports bar showing the football in Migennes especially as France is playing Uruguay so instead we enjoy watching it on the boat and happy for France to win 2-0  On Saturday after I eventually find a suitable hill for me to run up and down for three sets of 8 minutes much to amusement of the locals. Steve invites us to watch England play Sweden as he has a bigger telly than us…..ha ha!!! Unfortunately half an hour before we arrive Maggie has been stung by a wasp and has a bad reaction so doesn’t join us.  A good match with England beating Sweden 1-0 and putting us into the semi finals –  this is turning out to be a very good World Cup.

Beautifully kept lock house and lock

On Sunday I go for a 13 mile run but the towpath surface is horrible not only for me but also for Charles trying to cycle alongside me and I am not only sore but very disappointed with my pace.  On Monday afternoon Simon arrives and we learn that we have been sent the wrong part but he manages to temporarily stop the leak so we can use the generator whilst Charles corresponds with the manufacturer to try and sort out the issue – this is likely to take a long time….. We are still waiting for a quote for the flexi-teak which was measured up weeks ago, good job we are patient!!

Port at Saint Florentin

At least we can now commence our journey along the canal so set off on Tuesday the 10th after my run and travel 19k with 6 locks to Saint Florentin which is situated on the edge of Burgundy and Champagne. The Port is exceptionally tidy with a new quay and a small port providing winter moorings and managed by a very friendly and efficient Capitainne.

Saint Florentin
Everywhere is uphill around here!

The town itself is small but with a huge Renaissance church which was closed during our visit but apparently has exceptionally splendid 16th century stained glass windows.

Yet another magnificent church


This evening we enjoy watching France beat Belguim 1-0 to take them into the final and on Wednesday our hopes are dashed when Croatia beat England 2-0.  There has been so much hype in the UK and now disappointment however the young team have been brilliant and everyone is very proud of them. Now lets hope they beat Belgium on Saturday in the Third Place play off. During the afternoon Charles and I take a 17 mile round trip cycle ride to Flogny-la-Chapelle hoping to find a bar or cafe but find the little village shut apart from a Pizzeria so it’s back to the boat for a beer.On Thursday the 12th after my run of course, we travel 11k with 7 locks to Flogny-la-Chapelle with a new quay and fittings for electric and water which will make it a very popular stopover in the future.

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We are finding the numerous lock keepers incredible friendly and we are back to being asked when and where we intend to stop and what time we will set off the following day. Fortunately they appreciate boaters change their minds and are patient when we don’t turn up on time. At the moment the canal is relatively quiet with a few hire boats and even fewer private boats but as the school holidays have just started we expect it to get busier as we progress.  We are joined on the quay by two further hire boats stopping for the night. As it is such a pleasant evening Charles and I enjoy a bottle of Sauvignon before playing a few rounds of boules – not quite as competitive as when we played with Debs and Kev!

Ready to play Bouls?

!It’s Friday already – good job we are not suspicious as its also the 13th. We travel to Tonnerre today a short distance of 14k and 4 locks. Another lovely quay and a Capitainne who thinks we are a hotel boat and tries to charge us accordingly – even when Charles informs him we are a private boat he mutters that we are very big. Then it’s time to familiarise ourselves with the town and make the obligatory trek up the hill to the 12th – 16th century Saint Pierre Church with great views over the valley.

Interesting restored ‘monochrome’ stained glass in Saint Pierre Church

We then take a look at The Fosse Dionne and as per wikipedia it is a hydrogeological focal point and exsurgent spring – who knew? The modern city of Tonnerre is built around the spring and it used to supply water to the Oppidum of Tornodurum installed on the Vieux Châteaux plateau which dominates the city. In 1758 the spring was converted into a wash basin measuring 14 meters basically turning it into a wash house. Fireplaces located around the laundry made it possible to produce the ash needed for cleaning. It is quite impressive but I wouldn’t fancy doing my washing in it.tonnerre4

The Fosse Dionne


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