Sunday, 22 August 2010

Corre to Montceau

Aug 10

Getting a winter booking was becoming more urgent - Epinal was now too far North and the two possible DBA spots (Fragnes and Pouilly-en-Auxois) were foundering on VNF indifference.  At this point Terry Barrett on Renaissance suggested Montceau-les-Mines on the Canal du Centre (south of Dijon).  Not a decision to be made unseen so full throttle ahead.

The Upper Saone started off small and scenic and we wandered down to Port sur Saone which was a good and busy mooring but the town wasn't that inspiring.  No internet so definitely a one night stop. Off to Gray a much bigger town with supermarkets - the moorings were a bit silted up so lucky to get in in windy conditions - Peter finally installed the new washing machine and disposed of the old (room in the wheelhouse at last. Visited the museum in the Chateau - fortunately the entrance fee was low but at least it had a good view.

Then we found a small mooring at Lamarche sur Saone - we had to wait for a hire boat to move off but it was great stop.  The village had an excellent boucherie and boulangerie and a fairly tired Spa, but the latter had a good Beaujolais and an excellent Morgon so stocked up.  A steak barbecue on night One and boeuf bourguignon night Two - if only we had a deep freeze on board.

Auxonne was the next stop - fortifications and a Napoleonic museum (he served there) in the castle/chateau keep which was dire - NO more town museums! Found a bar to drown our sorrows.

The Saone was getting bigger and few ecluses, so the kms per day were adding up. We were looking forward to getting to St Jean de Losne (hub of the waterways etc) but there were no moorings, so moored outside a restaurant which allowed us to stay for the night (any excuse not to cook). For a 'hub' there wasn't a lot of activity - so we bought a fender (down to the helmswoman) at H20, chatted to a few English boaters and drifted on south.  Moorings on the big rivers are tight, so after our first big ecluses since the Moselle we squeezed into Seurre with some fast talking - Kes made friends with the Capitaine which helped.

Next was Verdun sur Doubs - a short turn off the Saone - only one barge mooring and we were just in time for the market - fish for dinner.  Angie fluttered her eyelashes and the Capitaine agreed we were under 15m. A nice little town and we found a good bar - after two nights we had become 'regulars'.

Verdun sur Doubs
A few more big ecluses and we were at the Canal du Centre - the Canal entrance is 'industrial' and entering the first ecluse (10m rise) is like going into a mine entrance.  No problems and onwards towards Fragnes where we spent a few days. A very popular mooring, the canal side is beautifully maintained and a good boulangerie and restaurant (and a hairdresser they seem to breed like rabbits in French villages). No surprise that the restaurant had to be checked out - good food but moderate service.

The ecluses were automated using a rope 'trigger', but dreadfully sited  at one end of the ecluse or the other so difficult to operate from on board - a mix of 5m and 2.5m lifts. A commercial quay at Chagny (don't bother) - a greenfield quay at St Julien which was fine with a boulangerie in the village 5 mins away (all the rural villages seem well maintained with tubs of flowers) and then Blanzy where we squeezed onto a small quay (free elec/water).  We found a farm shop near the quay which made us homesick for the NZ farm - we stocked up with cheap dogfood and Merlot (only in France).  The next day was Montceau les Mines

We tied up on the T of a finger pontoon at Montceau and made ourselves known to the Capitaine Catherine who spoke quite good English, checked out the town,  the dog walks (important) and Internet reception (critical) . As Terry Barrett had said,  it had all mod cons, was remarkably cheap and everyone was friendly so we signed up for the Winter and relaxed for a few days.

Montceau Mooring

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