|This could be Perthshire! Except there's no canal in Perthshire......|
As well as playing with that, we’ve started on our fifth French waterway of the season, the Canal du Bourgogne, which will take us northwards again, completing a full circle from where we set off at Auxerre. We left St-Jean-de-Losne on Tuesday morning after a big shop at the Casino supermarket there and getting fuel for both the domestic tank and propulsion tank at the cheapest waterside supplier we’d seen.
|Our friend Liz had told us about a lonesome goat bleating on the island at St-Jean-de-Losne marina, but as we left, we saw there were actually four!! It's okay Liz, he has friends :)|
|Leaving the marina and the singing frogs!|
We were glad it was a sunny day as the first stretch of the Bourgogne is notoriously dull. It’s a long straight cut through agricultural land with nothing much to see along the way, so we were glad of the rape seed brightening the way as we plugged along. There’s also a weed problem on this section and at times it was like wading through treacle having to stop and clear the propeller several times.
|Following Red Fern along the straight and narrow|
|Spot the frog!|
|Feisty locks on the Bourgogne - this was us coming into the port at Dijon with Red Fern bouncing around behind us.|
We were all aiming for Plombiers de Dijon, which is just beyond Dijon and marks the end of the boring bit of the canal and the start of the picturesque. I was glad we’d gone in to explore Dijon for the day from St-Jean-de-Losne as we now wouldn’t be stopping there. It was on this stretch that we encountered our second female lock-keeper since starting out, and like the previous one (Sindy, on the Nivernais), she sashayed up and down the lock exuding confidence, her self-assured swagger leaving her male counterparts in her wake. I wouldn’t mess with her.
At the last lock into Dijon, Janet and Dave had had enough and decided to pull in for the night. Although the pontoons of the port were jammed, as we’d been told they would be, there were plenty of spaces to moor around the edges and on the off side, so we bid farewell to them, knowing they’d probably catch us up again in a couple of days.
We told the lock keeper we wanted to go on to Plombiers if possible and he said that yes, it was possible but he didn’t think there was any space there – he’d check. He phoned a friend and said the port was full, but we could pull in below the lock for the night. We said that would be fine, which I don’t think he was expecting as most of the cruisers want power and water for the night. We have a huge water tank which only needs filled weekly and our solar is keeping us well topped up on the battery front. So on we went, and the lock keeper chatted away to Mike in English as his dad was an English teacher and had only spoken to him in English all through his childhood – how I wish my dad had been a French teacher…….. At the next lock, he said there was probably space for us in the port at Plombiers – strange how things change…..
It turns out there wasn’t really – well there were two spaces but both too small for us! We pulled in in front of a barge being refurbished and the chap kindly let us use the pin he already had in and we put our own in the other end. Plombiers proved to be a lovely wee town with a very good baker. So good, in fact, we went back on Thursday morning before we headed off to buy some more strawberry tarts. This didn’t bode well for Saturday’s weigh in.
|Lots of big hotel barges on this stretch, charging on average 8000USD for a week!!!|
The rain arrived on Thursday and we went from shorts to jeans to waterproofs within an hour or so of leaving – it was really miserable. It was also really annoying as we were going through some of the most beautiful countryside with forested hills rising away from the canals and the weather just spoiled it. We had a hail storm at one point followed by hot sun, then more rain…… quatre saisons/un jour – just like home.
It was another longish day, with a stop for lunch at the pretty town of Fleurey-sur-Ouche for lunch before continuing on to our mooring at Moulin Banet – a rural mooring above a lock, which I have absolutely no recollection of and no pictures to remind me, sadly. (After telling Mike I couldn’t remember, he couldn’t either and had to look up our log, so we both now remember it – we were moored near a hotel boat!).
On Friday, with various changes of lock keepers along the way, we arrived at our mooring at Le Bussiere-sur-Ouche mid-afternoon. We’d planned to go up one more lock but the lock keeper said these were much nicer moorings and he was right. Brand new quayside with water and electricity, and some pontoon moorings for shorter boats, and we had the whole place to ourselves. We filled with water, then did a pump out, then washed the boat. Then, because that hadn’t tired us out enough (and with dread I realised I didn’t have any bacon for the weekend’s bacon butties, to accompany our newly-aquired HP Sauce) we walked 4km to the shop at the next village. They had no bacon, but we bought some milk, potatoes and rewarded ourselves with an ice cream for the 4km walk back. By now shattered, we made dinner and had an early night, as there was no internet, so no tv.
|Nice view on our walk|
|Lovely mooring all to ourselves|
Another short day was planned for Saturday and tho’ sunny, it wasn’t quite shorts weather. The day got off to a poor start on two accounts; the Saturday morning weigh-in saw the second week of an upward trajectory for both of us (I blame the strawberry tarts from Plombiers), and we had no bacon for the breakfast so had to make do with an omelette. Today’s target was Pont d’Ouche and Le Bistrot du Pont for lunch. We arrived at 12 noon and got onto a pontoon and were welcomed by the capitaine, Sonia, who also runs the bistrot. We had a lovely lunch, some wine and then caught up with some tasks before heading into the late afternoon sun to do some more Ninebot-ting. We also had a visitor! Kevin from WB Avalon that we’d met in St-Jean-de-Losne had changed his plan to head south and had come up the Bourgogne and although ahead of us, had been out for a cycle and seen us moored up. It was nice to see a familiar face again, although there is no shortage of English boaters to chat with here!
|Lovely evening at Bussiere|
|Despite the close vicinity of the motorway, our mooring was lovely and peaceful|
With no bacon I improvised breakfast again on Sunday and we had poached eggs with taragon on toast, sprinkled with lardons, almost a kind of Masterchef Bacon & Eggs really, before we moved off following Millie, a dutch barge, with John and Jill on board. Today would take us to Vandeness en Auxois, from where we could go up the hill to Chateauneuf. Not THAT Chateauneuf unfortunately, the one of ‘du Pape’ fame, but a small hilltop village with a beautiful ancient, tiny chateau and views across burgundy. We got so far up the hill on the bikes, but had to walk the rest of the way, and after a walk round the village and a visit to the chateau, we rewarded ourselves with an ice cream before racing back down the hill. After dinner, we had our second session on the ninebot.
|Not a bad view from the lock|
|Time to walk!|
|My favourite room in the Chateau|
Monday saw us blessed with another scorcher and leaving Millie to enjoy another day at Chateauneuf, we headed off in second place up the locks to the summit of the Bourgogne, where we waited at the port for our passage through the tunnel to Pouilly-en-Auxois.
The VNF take this tunnel (or as the French
say, “Toon-elle”), very seriously and we were asked several times on the way up
if we were going through today, which was then radioed in. The controllers must have been expecting at
least three Quaintrelles to come through, but I’m sure they weren’t
disappointed to see just our one gorgeous one!
At the top lock, we were issued with a radio, to keep contact with
control going through the toon-elle, had to show our life-jackets which would
be worn, and show them our toon-elle light working. Our passage would be at 1400hrs, and we
should set off into the toon-elle when the boat coming the other way had passed
us. We nodded and , ‘Je comprend’ –ed all
this, and it was all radioed to the controllers again. We then moored up for a couple of hours to
have lunch and take a walk to the toon-elle entrance.
|Getting ready to leave Chateauneuf|
|Cute canalside museum of farming machinery|
|Waiting for Toon-elle passage|
|The cutting leading to the toon-elle|
|It's quite a long way down!|
|Just in case you can't see it, here's Mike pointing out the entrance.|
|Bizzarely, red lights are go here!|
|The flourescent lights causing the Doctor Who effect - ooooo-oooooooooooo-eeeeeeeee-ooooooooo...|
|The French considerately put the vents in the side of the tunnel so you don't get dripped on|
|Safe out the other end.|
|Moored across from the Dijon Cereales Granary - lovely to see these canalside buildings still in use.|
|Does anyone actually have any idea who lives here???|