Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Long Hot Summer

We have now been cruising for 6 weeks. In that time we have only had to close in the canopy twice for rain, and temperatures continue to climb across France, a change from recent years, as we seek shade, mooring under trees when we can. The concern is that some canals are running low on water. So far it has not been a problem for us, Antiope needs less than a metre to float.

The Burgundy waterways, of central France 
From Migennes our route has been southwards along the Nivernais, Loire Lateral, and onto the Canal du Centre, joining the Saone river at Chalon sur Soane.  

A stork nest alongside the canal
 The Canal du Centre was completed in 1793 as a link between the navigable Loire river which runs westwards to the Atlantic coast and the Saone river which runs southwards towards the Med.
It is claimed the Leonardo da Vinci had a hand in the planning but the engineer Emiland Gauthey completed the surveying, he found 'straight lines boring' so the canal is a delight to cruise with gentle bends following the contours of the hills. 

The Canal du Centre runs through the Cote de Beaune wine region.

The hotel boat 'Finesse'  

The Canal du Centre is a popular route for the luxury hotel boats, A typical double cabin aboard these boats can run to US$1800 per night  

A well cared for lock keepers house
In a deep cutting we find this mural, solely for the eyes of passing boats. 
We cross over the Loire river at  Digoin

Montceau les mines, a lift bridge in the middle of town.

The cruise so far has been one of exploring new territory slowly. At Chalon sur Saone we have the option of returning North via the Saone and the Burgoine canal or retracing or route via the Loire Lateral canal perhaps with a diversion to Paris.
What a delightful dilemma to have 


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Nivernais

We have reached the summit of the Nivernais canal. It is 10 years since we first cruised this waterway, in a hired craft on an exploratory mission to see if we liked cruising in France and Europe.
The answer was yes, and Antiope has clocked over 2500 hours or over 10,000 miles since then.

260 m above sea level, lake Baye was created to provide water for the canal

The Nivernais is arguably the prettiest waterway in France

This waterway took from 1764 through to 1841 to be completed, The northern end was originally used to 'Flottage' rafts of firewood down river to Paris mostly along the route of the Yonne river.

From the Morvan forest logs were cut and Rafts of 100 m assembled. 

Full moon, A view from the window one long summer evening 

For the past month we have cruised slowly South enjoying great weather. often remote with poor internet reception, however the world dramas do filter through. Cave rescues, The Brexit mess, France scoring goals. Novichok.     

Veselay the vast Basilica on top of 'The Eternal hill' 

We take a day off the boat to visit Veselay. On the pilgrim route construction began over a thousand years ago. The Crusaders assembled here on their way to Jerusalem.
Close to the summit, up in the hills.
The locks are all manned on this waterway, 
Dramatic cliffs at Rochere du Saussios

We find surprisingly little traffic on this remote waterway

Across the watershed, we will be descending the locks on waters that will end up in the Med.