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.
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|
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.