Tuesday, 30 July 2019

It Ain't half hot !

This July has been the hottest on record across France, even where we are in mid France the mercury has topped 40c more than once.
From our smartphone last week, but this was not on the hottest day !  
 While we have been able to avoid cruising in the heat of the day and find shade under trees, the continuing dry weather is causing chaos on the waterways. With no significant rain since May the reservoirs that feed the canals have all but dried up. Our planned round trip up the Soane river to Nancy and then down the Marne has also been thwarted by a munted lock on the Yonne river at Villeneuve. The damage is severe and will not be fixed before the end of the season. We have had no choice but to turn around and head back up the Nivernais canal in order to get back to our winter base in Migennes.

Burgundy region canals and rivers, as of 1st August our options are limited, The only route open to us is the Nivernais. 
 Ours is not the only region with issues. We hear that some lifting bridges in the Netherlands are not opening just in case they cannot close them again in the heat.

The lift bridge at Montceau les Mines, This was to be the furthest point of our cruise.

We had reached Montceau-les-Mines when we learned of the broken lock, followed by the restriction and closure notices. Along with many other craft we have had to revise our plans or risk getting stuck somewhere until the rains come.

We arrive in Digoin as they are setting up the firework display on the Aqueduct

 Bastille Day, La Fete Nationale, is marked across France with bands, parades and always a firework display.

The Mayoress inspects her fire brigade in scorching temps 
Pomp and speeches 

Perfect ballooning day
Ducks, almost in a row

A Ragondin (Coypu ) a common sight in the early evenings
Yes, Storks too


Friday, 12 July 2019

Up the Loire valley

It is now July and we have been cruising gently over the hills along the Briare canal which connects the waters that ran down to the Seine and the English Channel ( la Manche) with the waters of the Loire which runs Eastwards to the Atlantic. This is one of our favourite regions of France. In Montargis we find ourselves in the middle of a Maritime festival weekend. Masked performers paraded silently among the visitors, all very French.
Montargis boat festival and on show the traditional Loire river craft 

In the shade for a rest

These costumes must have been very hot in the high 30c temps 

The Briare aqueduct, always  impressive, takes the Briare canal over the Loire river.

Below the aqueduct as we cross, the Loire river is very low

Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses The seven original staircase locks, replaced in 1830 
 The original Briare canal was modernised in 1830 replacing many of the old lock structures that had been working since it opened in 1642 one of the earliest  north south waterways in France.

The Briare canal is a popular route for the luxury hotel boats

Sancerre a fine wine region

We climb 10 metres at the impressive Guetin double lock on the Loire lateral canal close to Nevers.
Under clear blue skies some days we have experienced temperatures of 42c while record highs of 46c were recorded in Southern France.
All this dry sunny weather is no good for the canals, Navigation restrictions are being introduced across the French waterway system,
fortunately we are in no hurry.

What has Antiope and this medieval castle got in common ?

Guedelon castle, 23 years in the making, built entirely medieval tools and methods.
                          Answer- They are the same age, 23 years old.

We took time out, to visit this incredible project, hidden deep in the Morven forest. A no mucking about, full on fortified castle being built from scratch and they working on it, stone by stone. Yes, with regular bits of rock quarried on site and chipped by hand onto shape. Some 23 years ago in the same year as Antiope was launched, this site was a bare clearing in the forest.
Each stone shaped by hand

Flax rope being spun by hand

For more info you should look at  www.guedelon.fr

Our plans from here will depend partly on the rain gods. The canals need water and while we do have optional routes and plenty of time, we are staying close to the Burgundy region.