On Saturday the 28th we are up early and prepare the boat for our trip through Pouilly tunnel which is between 3.50 and 4 kilometers in length – Charles needs to concentrate on keeping Bluegum in the middle and we only have one little incident where the bimini, although lowered, scuffs against the arch of the tunnel – no great damage caused. I spend the 40 minutes like a lion on a hunt moving left to right ensuring we stay in the middle and offer (unwanted) advice on adjustments – we get through without too much of stress but are both relieved to be out and probably won’t venture this way again for a while.
We are now descending the Bourgogne Canal which makes the locks so much easier and quicker. Altogether we travel 9k and descend 8 locks to arrive by lunch time in Vandenesse-en-Auxois amidst four hotel boats.
In the afternoon we take a walk along the canal and up a rather steep hill to Chateauneuf-en-Auxois to discover a beautiful village with winding narrow streets, medieval houses and a very imposing castle. I think Rapunzel would be proud to live there and let down her hair should a knight in shining armour turn up to rescue her.
As can be expected the oldest part of the castle was built in the 12th century by Jean de Chaudenay. The five towers and the walls were erected in the 14th century during the 100 year war to protect the few hundred villagers from the marauding English invaders – we should be ashamed of ourselves……
In the 15th century the last descendent of the lords of the village; Catherine was condemned to death for poisoning her husband – clearly health and safety regulations had not be invented and the standard of cooking was clearly questionable. the castle was seized by Phillipe Pot but now belongs to the Burgundy Regional Council and is definitely worth a visit.
Wandering around the street there are many artists displaying their paintings, sculptures and other crafts and it is a great tourist attraction.
We return to the boat for dinner and are treated to a music concert from a group of French tourists travelling in three motorhomes and even manage to get Charles up for a little dance. Their talent was impressive and we are quite disappointed when they call it a night.
On Sunday we arrange to meet the lock keeper at the first lock of the day at 10am as I have my long run which is only 8 miles as I’m on a recovery week so find it rather relaxing with no pressure.
Today we travel to Pont d’Ouche a distance of 9k with 12 locks – there is no room in the port for us so we moor on the bank and walk around to the port for a drink before introducing ourselves to Debbie and Andrew on their widebeam NouNous. The name refers to one of their cats but also means Nanny in French – it apparently has another connotation which I will leave to the readers imagination!!! We return to their boat in the evening for drinks and its great getting to know them and finding out they are newly arrived in France so everything is new and exciting. We are travelling in the same direction so continue to moor up along the way and to share locks on some days.
On Monday the 30th July we travel 7k with 6 locks to La Bussière sur Ouche and take a 10 minute walk to Abbaye de la Bussière a pre wedding anniversary lunch. We are lucky to get a table and in retrospect should have booked.
The gardens are amazing and we sit outside on the patio looking across the lawns. The staff are so friendly and the food is wonderful.
We have a delicious meal before making our way back to the boat and going down one more lock to the official mooring with full facilities which in our hurry to moor up, we had missed.
Jetons for electricity and water have to bought from the Marie but we have missed the time slot so do without. After an early evening walk around the village we have a few rounds of boules and I think we have both improved sufficiently to give a French man or woman a challenge…..
Tuesday 31st July – Happy Wedding Anniversary Charles – 16 years and going strong. Before we set off I have 3 x 8 minutes of hill running to do which simply means running up and down a hill as fast as I can about 30 times – the locals think I’m crazy but I actually rather enjoy the challenge. Madness over we set off to travel 10k with 7 locks to Lock 34 at Banet where in the evening we enjoy a meal at a Swiss family restaurant run by Urs and Doris.
The only other customers are a couple of Italians from a boat in front of us and its rather bizarre conversing in French with a couple who have the strongest Italian accent – its hard enough talking with French people but we manage and get along famously. The food is excellent and Urs is a perfect host, very friendly and knowledgable having also been a bargee in his time.
On Wednesday morning we first have to negotiate ourselves out of the tight mooring spot between a large barge in front and Charlotte a cruiser behind us which has two metal rods for holding a rib which impede our exit – no damage to her but our flag fixture gets unhinged – no great disaster. We travel 11k sharing the 10 locks with NouNous to Velars sur Ouche. Not the most attractive of moorings but it does have a supermarket next to the quay so not all bad. Debbie and Andy join us in the evening for drinks.
On Thursday the 2nd August we continue travelling with NouNous to Dijon a distance of 10k with 8 locks. The port is so disappointing and looks run down. There are a number of boats who have not moved in some time huddled around the free electricity and water but the main tourist quay whilst having bournes for electricity and water do not work because nobody supplies the jetons required. Basically neither the VNF nor Dijon town council want to have responsibility so nothing is done. However the town itself is wonderful and you could spend days wandering around the little streets and I enjoy a bit of shopping therapy.
On Friday we continue to explore the town and enjoy a wonderful lunch of cabillaud curry a simple but incredibly tasty dish followed by a mixed berry tart on the lightest pasty I’ve every tried. Then we retire to the boat and hide from the 36 to 38 degree heat.
I enjoy a 3 mile run on Saturday morning and must be hungry because each mile increases in speed: 9.10, 8.48 and 8.19 minutes per mile. Then we have a long day travelling 16k with 14 locks to Longcourt-en-Plaine with a lovely French couple on their cruiser. We stop for the obligatory one hour lunch hour and then are delayed further to allow a hotel barge to overtake us as they always have priority. It’s another hot day with temperatures around 35 degrees.
We arrive in Saint Jean de Losne mid afternoon on Sunday 5 August with temperatures again the in mid 30’s. We moor for the night hoping to get into the H2O workshop first thing in the morning to have our new pump fitted to the generator. Charles speaks to Florence at H2O at 8.30am and she tells us to come over to the slipway at 11am – looking good! The engineer turns up at 4pm and has a look – then says he will come at 7am tomorrow!
We have drinks with Dave and Becky on Wanderlust in the evening.
We are up early at 7am … no sign … 8am … 9am … the engineer turns up at 11am with his trolley and the necessary bits. He goes down into the engine room for 20 minutes … comes back up and goes for lunch! Back at 1pm he gets to work proper and, with only a couple of breaks in between, he is finished for 4pm. 2 days for a 2 hour job! Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are, after all, in France.