We left Migennes at 2.30pm our first trip was to be in two small sections... Migennes to Guray... it was hard waving to everyone, (though we will be back next week). The sun was shining and we where a little anxious setting off into the French waterway system for the first time our fully re-charged batteries for our body and boat, in parts the River Yonne it is very wide, we had four locks to negotiate in our best French... we had been warned the locks have sloping sides on one side and can be hard... we where lucky that no one shared the locks with us. I climbed on top of the boat to use the centre rope... we had used back and front ropes in the first lock we were in but I found it was not so easy... the lock keeper had no objection to us using the centre rope, our boat responds much better to the centre rope, it's much easier to hold the boat in the locks, these locks are very big indeed,and fill quickly they have huge sparkling weir's situated next to the lock this can make it hard to hold the boat... if the lock is in use, the places to tie up are not very good as we found on this part of the river, just a post sticking out of the river is what we got... all the locks so far have been manned for us... other than tie up in the lock you have no work to do... that felt strange letting someone else do all the hard work... we missed doing the locks and getting the exercise,but we need to just look and watch for now... we must get our bikes, it's important to get our exercise, all this food and drink no good for the hips!!!
We enjoyed every second of our first trip and the countryside was very good indeed... we had our first rain shower not long after we set off... first cloud in the sky since we arrived 12 days ago... it did not last long and the clouds helped the beauty of the journey. The lock keepers where friendly and helpful and John had some good practice with his French... but he did a bit too well and they chatted on, far too fast thinking we must be French especially with a boat Called Moet Chandon... as in England, all the boats called out have we got any champagne on board and what a beautiful boat we had so many comments and compliments... often said "beau bateau"... it was so good being on the move again.
We moored over night at Gurgy a very nice village and mooring... electric was expensive 2 Euro's an hour not that we needed it... my god we thought, we will have to go back to work at this rate... We met a couple from England and had a drink with them... they have hired boats in France for many years and where returning to England the following day... their dream is to own a boat over here, when they where leaving the next mooring they left us a present of two great outside cushions for our boat, which we now use daily, they help with the knees when climbing on the roof for the locks... they have water proof backs and two handles, just ideal.
Auxerre square were we had lunch... Our boat outside St Etienne views where stunning.
We set off for Auxerre and enjoyed a wonderful trip like children seeing thing's for the first time every thing was so new, and the sun was shinning with us. Auxerre... what a wonderful and very pretty town it's the capital of Lower Burgundy, it's situated in the heart of the wine-growing region most famous for it's Chablis wine... the town centre is entirely classed as a protected area and the feel and it's charm is wonderful, I could not stop clicking from the moment we arrived... it also had a yellow line called the tread of history for you to follow on foot around the city with a map which we got from tourist information Auxerre earned the city of Art and history in 1995 it has the most amazing timber framed houses too...
We where informed by another boater to moor on the left of the port where the hotel boats moor... as they charged about 9 euro's a night for mooring and electric and water on the right. We had just moored up when along came the biggest hotel boat you ever saw... we thought oh my God we have stole his mooring, we began to pull our boat back, when the Hotel boat got nearer the captain called to us "be our guest please stay, bring your boat up a bit and we will pull in behind you also please feel free to plug in and use our electric and water (free)"... did we hear right!!! that's just what we did, one of the staff Trudy from Reading came to chat to us and we ended up having a drink as you do, she came to say what a wonderful boat you have... she and her French partner Philip (the chef) worked the summer months on board the hotel boat and in the winter months in the Ski resorts where they where buying a home. They had sold their home in England the year before. Trudy invited us on board the hotel boat the following day for a drink she said we could look around the hotel boat when everyone had disembarked and before the next lot of American passengers to arrive on Sunday.
We went off to explore Auxerre,and it's yellow brick road!!! looking also for bikes. I could not stop clicking the camera especially all the wooden buildings and tiny streets... almost like the shambles in York. We where moored outside Saint Etienne Cathedral what a wonderful sight too this truly amazing Cathedral. Lots of bars and restaurants lining the street along the river...we walked to the other side of the river as we could see a narrow boat that we thought we knew... it was a couple from England they had arrived at Joe's yard some month's previous, they had come over with their three children,and a dog... and all live on the narrow boat... all children are now in schools in Auxerre and they where happily living in France, what guts they have we thought... we turned around and a friendly voice said "fancy meeting you here", it was Bruce & Gwen (we met in Migennes... Bruce had helped me with my computer), they have just bought a large camper van 3 weeks ago and where touring France and Germany he designs Yacht's and writes books and he works on his computer and web site while traveling, they have a home also in Ireland, they are from New Zealand... in their 70's and look 50's they have explored the French water ways for many years on their boat and have lived all over the world with his job as designer of Yacht's... now they are to explore by road having sold their boat (some regret)... they invited us for drinks in their new van for 7pm that evening then take us out for dinner to their favourite restaurant, they have spent many summers in Auxerre... so know it well.
We ended up in a little square later that afternoon just admiring the buildings again most wooden, it was just opposite our boat we where having a coffee in the wonderful sunshine... when Trudy and Philip asked if they could join us... we had a great hour chatting, they where most helpful regarding places to visit and shop's to visit where to shop for the best bikes, it was wonderful hearing all about their adventures too and sharing ours, we made arrangements to meet on board the hotel boat at 1pm the following day. We said we must go as we are meeting friends for dinner, what a nice feeling that was... getting to know people already. Lots of people stopped us to admire our boat....as it's so different to the French boats....the Moet is a good way of meeting people still...
We had a wonderful night out with Bruce and Gwen and enjoyed ourselves till the wee hours... drinking a few bottles of the old red... we had a wonderful four course dinner and went back to our boat for after's... we bid our farewells as they where leaving for Germany the following morning... It's so wonderful to have so many invitations and to have the time to take people up on their kind offer's
We had a wonderful morning... listening to all the bells several huge churches in Auxerre... breakfast was on the front of the boat with live music close by... then we had a couple of hours walking, bought some new fenders for the boat at SOS bateaux in Auxerre it took some finding on foot. We then went to visit Trudy and Phil on the hotel boat next door, very plush with 12 bedrooms all en-suite, fully inclusive it will set you back 4,300 US dollars per week not worth it John and I felt... Trudy gave us instructions to find Decathlon (shop/warehouse) where we could buy some bikes, it's about one hour's walk up the hill... well we made it in 80 degrees of heat I was puffing and panting when we got there... drank a litre of water which was so needed... Great shop sold every sport accessory you ever needed also thousands of shoes for every sport too. We bought two bikes and all we needs to go with them... it felt wonderful choosing our bikes and again we felt like small children in a toy store for the first time. I was so nervous riding my bike for the first time... down some big hill's and amongst city traffic too, but what a magical feeling it was... even though it must be 40 years since I have been on a bike, we had a wonderful time coming back, you never forget how to ride... even though I had a wobble on. John was in his element... biking had been his hobby for over 10 years... only slowed down after being knocked off his bike... so we both needed to gain confidence again.
We came back to the boat and John & I were both sat having a drink when who should appear but Ursula and Mike, they drove to Auxerre in the hope of finding us, It was such a wonderful surprise too... I cooked a meal and we all sat and had enjoyed a bottle of red, we then went to explore the town of Auxerre since they knew it well, we had a great time. They left around 8.30pm and John and I decided to finish a wonderful day off... we would go to Saint Etienne Cathedral at 9.30pm for the light and history show... which took about one and half hours John loves history... I think I was too tired to fully appreciate it. I could not wait to fall into bed... what a weekend it had been.
We where up bright and early, could not wait to get out and go have a practice on our new shiny bikes though this time along the canal... it was wonderful... I felt so free, though my legs felt the pain as did my poor bum again. I will need to take it slowly and build it up. We had a wonderful four days in Auxerre it went too quickly, time to travel back up to Gurgy then onto to Migennes as we had an appointment with TV engineer coming to sort our Sky TV system out hopefully, needed new French settings. That was the reason for the short trip we had to get back, then we could travel further up the river Yonne towards Sens...
new bikes stowed safely... lunch out on day of departure from Auxerre
On our way back we had engine trouble... we started losing power, we started to get worried being on such a wide river, we managed to get ourselves back to Gurgy, and John discovered the fuel filter was blocked... as usual he just happened to have a spare one in his magic box, he set too and got it all stripped down and all sorted in a few hours what a relief that was. We spent the night in Gurgy, and decided we would go exploring on our bikes the sleepy village and track our first Chateau and buy our fresh bread from the boulangerie on the way back... what a disappointment finding our first Chateau it was closed and off limits and had been turned into private apartments, but the ride there was wonderful... no one about and so little traffic you where back in the fifties (not that I remember them too well). I also walked into the boulangerie for our bread and asked for it in French.....wow I did it, I was thrilled with myself, but now I have forgotten already my memory!!! It will come hopefully.
Later in the afternoon we had a wonderful few hours cruise back up the River Yonne to Migennes getting used to the locks and the ropes and our boat.Our speed was much better on the rivers... We could keep track of it all with our new GPS system.
TV man was coming 8am following morning, we enjoyed dinner on Bon Adventure with Mike and Ursula.
TV was sorted next morning for us and Mike and Ursula's too we have English TV. We all went shopping for dinner as it was my turn to cook and Herbie was coming to dinner. We had a wonderful night the five of us we started with some champagne then wine... we where all very merry... though I was up at the crack of dawn and got some stunning sunrise photos... which I later printed, we went market shopping again today... John was busy doing some jobs on Bon Adventure. Ursula cooked a wonderful chicken curry for dinner for six of us on bon adventure that night.
We will be sorry to go tomorrow but we are ready once again. Like taking small steps at a time a little here, then when ready we will take off.
The weather has been so wonderful the whole time we have been here... high 80's I think, bright blue skies. I have had my home made window shield's up (meant for car window screen's but they work so well help's keep the boat cool) since we arrived... protection from the blazing sun.
view from our mooring in Joigny... Eating out on the way to Sens
We enjoyed three nights in Joigny this is a picturesque town and is built in terraces on the side of St. James' Hill at the edge of the Forest of Othe... we had wonderful views of the Gothic and Renaissance styled Saint Thibault Church built in the 15 century... we stayed on a private mooring opposite the church which cost us 9 euros a night for mooring with electric... but not a good supply of electric it kept going off but oh the view of the church and flowers and sunsets were just pure magic this is what we thought of France when we looked at our view... we met a couple from Spain moored next to our boat, they spend six months in France six months in Spain but they are looking for a home in France..said in all the years they have lived in Spain they have never been accepted into the community and they think that's sad... we enjoyed a night with them again exchanging stories.
Joigny is a very pretty town indeed again I could not stop clicking the camera... one thing about France and the waterways they are covered with such wonderful flowers everywhere... even all the bridges and locks no mater how big, it's so colourful. We visited museum's... church's went for bike rides and walked a lot too. Ursula and Mike arrived to take us out for the day by car on Saturday they needed to go order some bit's from a local caravan shop for their boat... we visited Joigny market first of all, we bought fresh fish and veg and took it back to the boat before setting off for Sens we had a wonderful lunch on the way... one of the tables where having a lobster and fresh fish banquet...what a table it was... one of the nicest meals out we have had so far only 10 euro's for 3 courses. We enjoyed exploring the town of Sens an impressive capital we also looked at different moorings for the winter along the river... for the future... Sens has some wonderful shop's and it's a great place to stop off at, fab cafe's too, we sat in a square for coffee and was entertained by live music and singing and a wedding had just taken place in the cathedral also in the square... as usual off I went, to photograph the wedding... with the horse and carriage, I was in my element (not photographed a wedding for a while).
Once again we had a wonderful memorable day... when we got back in the evening John and I sat and watched the stars the sky was so clear, with a glass of vino of course. We felt very lucky indeed to be here to experience such wonderful sights and we have the time to absorb it all... also time to be learning so much.