Thursday 19th July we travel 9k with 5 locks to Ravières with free electric and water – always a bonus. I keep promising to do some cleaning as the boat is beginning to look shabby but my excuse is that it is just too hot and we need to conserve water……?Our next town is Montbard, a long day for us travelling 19k with 11 locks and if I’m honest I’m a bit disappointed with the town. Although the mooring is pleasant, it is an industrial town and in comparison to some of the other places we have visited this seems shabby although it does have a decent Casino (for food shopping not gambling) and our fridge is decidedly empty as is our wine stock. We get a bit of a scare as we wander around familiarising ourselves with the place when three large dogs belonging to a group of itinerants chase us and start circling Charles – he is a bit shaken up but I’m terrified and just relieved that when shouted at they returned to their owners. To be honest that was enough to put me off the place although we enjoy taking a walk around the old castle keep and terraced gardens.
We get the bikes out and cycle back along the canal to visit The Grande Forge de Buffon an 18th Century classified historical monument designed by George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. At the request of the King of France; Buffon undertook a number of studies on the smelting and treatment of iron ore in Burgundy which led him to design and construct of The Grande Forge.
It was the first time that the three processes of furnace, refinery and foundry were concentrated in the same place. Also the first time water was used to hydraulically power the bellows for the furnace and hammering the iron.
On Sunday to avoid the heat we get up early so I can do my 15 mile long run with mist still across the canal. About half way along we see an animal on the tow path and realise it is a young deer who seems bemused and we are amazed how close I get before it bolts off – better than seeing a snake any day…
We are back by 8.30 so in time to enjoy our Sunday morning treat of croissants before arriving at our first lock of the day at 10am and travel 13 k with 9 locks arriving in Veneray les Laumes by 3pm where we see the illusive Hotel Boat ‘Belle Epoche’ taking up a large part of the quay.
A hire boat whom we had shared the last three locks with commences to moor up in the middle of the remaining quay until we approach and they ask me if it’s my space and I naughtily say yes so they move ….. I feel a bit bad but there is a Nichols marina there with loads of space and we are not allowed in so I don’t feel bad for long. And just as we are contemplating an alcohol free evening (we had quenched our thirst with a beer on arrival but that doesn’t count) David and Matthew stop to say hello as they see us moored up after an afternoon drive out so of course we open a bottle of bubbles. We are currently being besieged with wasps and unfortunately David gets stung – but I guess if anyone is to get stung I prefer not to be me – heartless I know.
On Monday (23rd) we cruise only 11k but pass through 29 locks to arrive in Marigny le Cahouêt late afternoon. The lock keepers are amazingly friendly and work so hard especially in the heat which has been passing 30 degrees most days so we supply them with cold drinks and ice cream to keep them motivated.
One of Charles biggest bug bears is fishermen (or women) setting up right where the moorings are and today is no exception but we manage with the use of stakes to moor up and the fisherman does come to assist and checks everything is okay but it does mean that our boat is right in front of their camper van and thus ruins their view. Marigny is a tiny village but with stunning views and has a small shop that sells bread and bits and bobs.On Tuesday we travel 12k with only 13 locks and again with lovely lockies getting us through swiftly we arrive at Pont Royal by 12.30 and decide to stay a couple of days. Peter Jeffs arrives to service our central heating system after which he suggests that next year we use the money for a nice meal out rather than a service as we don’t use it sufficiently to warrant a service each year – I’m sure non of us hear that comment often and it’s refreshing to have such an honest professional.
The Capitainne also runs a Chambre D’Hôte which is very popular and full on both nights we are there; mainly with cyclists. We take a walk to the nearby Pont Royal restaurant with very friendly staff and adequate food – the staple French vegetarian dish of omelette for me and steak with chips for Charles but the chocolate eclair was lovely and it is a treat not to cook or wash up for that matter.
On Thursday the 26th we continue our journey through truly stunning scenery of the Armançon Valley – it is breathtaking and anyone who is feeling stressed would benefit from a visit to this amazing part of France. We travel 17k with 13 locks to Pouilly-en-Auxois and are happy to be at the summit. It’s a very pleasant port with a supermarket close by and we stop here for two days. Our good intentions for exploring on Friday are cancelled as I have absolutely no energy and can only manage lying around, nodding off and drinking copious amounts of water – it is so hot and I think the weather has got the better of me.