We had already traveled this canal just a few days before and if we were to make it to Holland by the first part of September we weren’t going to have much time to dawdle but, this being a barge, there is no moving fast. And there were some places we hadn’t seen because of the rain so we would make some time.
Although there was still alot of bad weather, there were finally a few nice days. We tied up at the municipal halte at Beaulieu. Free water and electricity! Sunshine! Time to do some laundry!
We also made a short day to stop after the double locks at Guetin to bicycle the 4 k, dodging rain showers, to the village of Apremont. It’s maintained it’s medieval look and our chart book describes it as “one of the most beautiful villages in France.” And flowers everywhere.
Since we were backtracking and the navigation was now essentially dead-end, we saw many of the same people and boats we had seen just a few days or weeks before.
There were some reunions as well. The mooring in Digoin resulted in a dinner party with Jenny and Adrian and their kiwi friends (there are pictures on Jenny’s blog). We’ve talked and emailed frequently but hadn’t seen them since we were their first guests on Piedaleau last spring. And since we had to stop in Santenay (again!), we got in touch with Philippe and Michele whom we’d met on the Roanne Canal and they drove down from their home in Mersault for an evening of food and wine.
Other boat traffic was also an issue. The Lateral and Centre both have personnel staffing the locks and with little boat traffic, this year probably due to the horrible weather and canal problems, traveling was a breeze.
The distance between locks, especially on the Lateral, is usually between 3 and 5 k with some 10’s and 20’s thrown in. The lockkeeper phones ahead to the next lock and more likely than not, the lock is open and waiting. As we got closer the the Saone and the weather improved, however, the hireboat traffic picked up and the locks get closer together. All of a sudden we were waiting for traffic and sharing locks with another boat. And amateurs at that! Such is the hard life on the canals.
Along with the improving weather, the scenery is getting more attractive. Since we were in Santenay a month and a half ago things have greened up a bit and they put the flowers in the boxes.
Santenay on the afternoon of the Solstice
After an overnight stop at the quay right next to the giant grocery store at the end of the Canal du Centre, at a little after 9 in the morning we reentered the Saone, this time pounding upriver back to Saint Jean de Losne. A little extra power was required from Mister DAF to overcome the current but much to our surprise when we arrived at Saint Jean about 5 o’clock there was just enough room for us to squeeze into a space on the steps of the Quay National.
After 7 weeks, 850 kilometers and 222 locks we were right back where we started.