Canal du Centre from the junction of the Canal Lateral a la Loire at Digoin to the River Saone at Charlon-sur-Saone we will be traveling 112.1km with 61 locks... (all cycled, not on this bike). We Stopped at many wonderful villages again, see also May 2005 page for more photos of this canal. The weather wonderful, cooler on a night.
We thoroughly enjoyed our journey to Chagny meeting up with many friends along the way and we enjoyed many hours of cycling. Willem was waiting with a warm welcome on our arrival a wonderful BBQ on his boat, we spent many nights together, eating drinking, listening to music, eating out and him driving us around, we enjoyed visiting the wonderful Sunday market here.
Many celebrations and sadness are around this month and it's hard to count our blessings when others are suffering. People came this month and gave us help when needed and give our spirits a lift when needed. VNF looked after us too they allowed us to plug into their office for electric & mooring in Chagny for almost two weeks, they took care of our boat while we were away down south. Bless them we supplied a bag of goodies coffee & snacks on leaving to say thank you.
We traveled via train from Chagny to Charlon-sur-Saone to sort a hire car the day after our arrival, we used Euro Car Hire again, they are very good indeed in our experience... We had a lovely day out as we explored this very interesting city on the bank of the river Saone, much to see and enjoy. Very different to when we arrived here with the boat in May, the river was in flood, it was scary at the time, a lot of boats had to shelter in the canal.
Friends Peter & Moira joined us this month for an over night stay, what a very special treat and experience, being taken out to dinner at this hotel... all the food spoke of art "it should be photographed not eaten was my thought"... Peter ploughed through the large wine list... Moira translated the menu... food & wine divine... the experience and restaurant has changed our minds on French cookery, we found a genuine home-style-warmth at this expensive hotel.
We chatted to each other over dinner catching up... the passion added into the different textures of the food presented to us, perfectionism at it's best... I would love French cookery lessons... next on my dream list of things to do... These photos were taken from the hotel's web site... French Master Chef Jaques Lameloise seen here with some of his chefs.
Moira and Peter drove us to Charlon-sur-Saone the following morning to pick up our hire car before they departed for their home in Chantemerle-Les-Grignan, we were lucky the local market was on, so we all enjoyed a coffee and bought a tray of fresh figs to try... simply delicious, it was then time for picking up the hire car, we bid each other goodbye and a safe journey till we meet again.
We first traveled by car to visit our friends Mike & Kay on boat Water magic then on to have dinner with friends Ann & Lawrence in St Jean de Losne, after sorting our lost bank card out, our French Bank had it all in hand, we collected our mail from H20, it was strange seeing this town in summer and meeting up with so many people we know it was so nice. We had hoped to visit Pam & David but could not contact them... out of range on the Canal du Nivernais when we tried. Sorry we missed out on a chance to chat & cup of tea with them... we moved on after looking in a few ports for them.
We choose to drive and enjoy some of the 225,000 acres of the Morvan forest, the beauty of this vast sanctuary of pure fresh air and the wild nature in this Natural Park, much time should be devoted to this area one day but we could only sample a small taste of the beauty here as we drove along some of the roads. Our next stop Nevers a dream from my childhood to visit this town and see the shrine of St Bernadette and to read once again her story. I was not disappointed, I met an English speaking nun here who was very helpful indeed. John and I wandered around the grounds and took in the atmosphere, as we walked into the chapel a High Mass was being said I was able to just absorb it all - very moved indeed, especially the singing & music, right place right time again. John is more into the history of the church's we visit than what they stand for. So pleased we added this stop to our journey. We moved onto the city of Tours next where we booked into a hotel for the night, enjoyed a meal and a drive around this city, weather not so good when we arrived here, so did not venture too far. Continued our drive following morning across France through many wonderful villages heading towards the Atlantic coast.
Much hard work involved for my friend Sue & Matt in arranging with the local Mayor to get married in France in the village where they are having a home built see photo below, a dream born from a holiday spent here last year. They made it all happen congratulations to you both. They hope their new venture will be ready to rent out soon, it's a wonderful 4 bed roomed home awaiting bookings, let me know if you are looking for a holiday home for next summer. Sue & Matt rented the house next door to their new home for their stay so made it very special, we enjoyed time together, BBQ sitting out till late.
Wonderful time spent with Sue & Matt attending their romantic wedding in the town hall.
So nice to see their home here taking shape, share in their dreams... I helped collect sunflowers with Sue and her mum for the bridal bouquet, we sat with feet in the pool and chatted only hours before the wedding, a wonderful meal for 14 followed after toasting their future happiness.
Sue her mum and I stole a few moments away in the local church later that evening and gave thanks for such a wonderful sun filled day...
As I waded in the sea watching the delight on the children's faces, feeling the sand beneath my toes this area boasts some of the best beaches in France, we enjoyed visiting a small part of the Atlantic coast which covers a vast area of hugely varied landscapes, we lunched on the Ile-d'Oleron the day after the wedding with Sue, Matt and Sue parents before bidding our good byes later after looking over the wedding photo's, they were heading off to Honeymoon in Corsica... John & I visited Saintes, Royan, and a great number of small villages we enjoyed sharing the driving, over 2000 km in all. A high light returning home (awful weather most of the way) was a drive through the vine yards of Beaune the sun was out here, people all over picking the grapes, trucks full to bursting, as they began this mountain task, we enjoyed this drive around the many vineyards watching the grapes being picked. Arrived back in Chagny... oh my aching back from much driving...
We returned to a wonderful welcome back in Chagny, Willem had arranged a night out for us following night, his local GP was playing with other local doctors, a meal during the live gig we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We then got down to planning our journey south over the next two days. Willem and I had some work to do on my computer... re-setting dreamweaver with up dates, also lessons on Photo Shop, we enjoyed working together again.
John was busy working on the Moet, he serviced the engine, generator, cleaned the engine room and generally got the boat ready for our trip south, every thing was gleaming when we left Chagny, diesel topped up to the brim.
We felt very apprehensive about starting our journey south on the big rivers, leaving friends, and a part of France that we have begun to love and know, it feel's like moving again to another country, we will not met people we know on this journey, strange this feeling happened just over a year ago and how our life changed for the better the friends we made... we have to move from this comfort zone to experience the next leg of our journey. Who knows what will turn up... good weather we hope to go with us and an extended summer in Carcassonne.
Our first stop after coming off the canal was city of Chalon-sur-Saone... only boats up to 15 meters allowed into the port de plaisance we were told when we tried to book a mooring over the telephone. Willem telephoned the local Mayor's office to discover why the change in boat size, big boats damage the moorings he was told, and the town are fed up replacing them was the reply, we spent an uncomfortable night banging about on the sloping sided quay. Willem joined us for dinner that evening and we said our final good byes... setting off the following morning was not ideal, it was so windy and a cold wind at that, the canopy was now up and all the sides installed as we set off... upsetting each other (both wanted to be captain) as both our nerves & a little grief of leaving got the better of us, especially the first hour. I disappeared below for an hour till we both cooled down, then it was bliss again as both our confidence grew navigating the Saone river the channel is very well marked out, and we happily tottled along with the big boats... we planned just to travel for 4 hours first day (no locks wow) then we would stop & rest, we are still tired from our car journey south and a hectic year. We moored at a wonderful quay in Tournus good moorings for a small town all facilities here we were given free electric & water and a warm welcome from a narrow boat, enjoyed a wonderful English speaking tour around 11/12th century Abbey in the afternoon it's very well restored enjoyed a walk around the tiny winding streets of Tounus, enjoyed dinning out.
You can just spot The Moet as a dot to the left of the church, as a peniche goes by, we enjoyed another pleasant night on the River Saone and strolling around the town of Macon.
A text from sister Kathleen today put us in a spin, saying they would like to visit us next week 30th to 5th October, "where are you she said", told her our position, and she promptly booked flights to Lyon and booked a hire car following morning.
Kathleen has good maps of France and she said she will find us, carry on your journey Irene we will catch you up... Our plans have now happily changed, we will slowly make our way so we are about one or two hours drive from Lyon airport for their arrival, looking forward to sharing part of our journey with them, and hearing tales about their new sailing boat, moored in South Wales. The weather is so nice it has completely changed over the last few days canopy down, shirts off enjoying the warmer weather as we travel further south, superb moorings we are finding. Locks few and far between, they are ready and very easy and gentle as we go down. We have begun to notice a hint of mediterranean, especially all the huge cruise liners joining us up & down the Saone, and the roofs are beginning to change too.
Lyon you can see in the back ground, no good moorings set up here for pleasure boats, we turned off the river Saone into the mighty Rhone (frightful stories we have heard of this river) we decided to travel back into Lyon now on the River Rhone to see if we can find a mooring spot for the night.
We were taking in the sights, when a couple waved from the right bank, we waved back and carried on, then they started jumping up and down... John said "Irene I think that looks like Moira" Can you imagine our surprise... speechless... Moira & Peter here in Lyon too they were driving through City of Lyon on their way home to England and spotted the Moet on the river... what a celebration we had that evening.
I was so wrong about meeting friends on this journey we convinced them to stay the night. We headed for town on foot with our expert guides who have a good knowledge of Lyon. We managed to moor on some pontoon fingers not ideal but we had a wonderful dinner and celebration, What an unexpected wonderful gift this chance meeting was, warmed our hearts. Enjoyed two nights in Condrieu for a rest and some site seeing.
We are enjoying this journey very much, Tournon stop was a bumpy night as we don't always find suitable moorings, few and far between on this river.
We are now in the Port de Plaisance in Valence (room for 400 boats) a really wonderful marina just off the river with every facility here, ready to spruce the boat (good excuse) take on supplies ready for my sister Kathleen and husband John's arrival today 30th September, so far we have been so lucky with the weather and we hope it continues... we have a long way to travel in October.
In our first year in France we have traveled well over 1,000 miles by boat (many more by car & plane) we have managed 620 locks so far good team work, many miles cycled and hundreds of miles walked. Our wish for more exercise and fresh air has come true ... no weight loss just gain... why... good food and of course the vino we think!!!