Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Monday, July 4, 2022

On the Rhone, June 16-23

Off we went galloping down the Rhone, making a good 10 k over the ground not even pushing it. Nice to have a 2-3 k current behind us.

Our first stop was a fuel barge about 20 k south of Lyon. We want to keep the tank topped off as who knows what’s going to happen with fuel supplies over the summer and it seems like the price will just keep climbing. After lightening our bank account for the $9+ a gallon fuel (stop whining, Americans!) it was off to Ampuis, 39 k and 2 big Rhone locks south of Lyon. No problems with the locks, though. They are big and deep but with floating bollards it’s just a matter of getting tied up with a single line and watch it; the bollard follows you down. We did share one lock with a cruise ship but since the locks are 190 meters long and the cruise ships are about 150 there’s plenty of room for our 16 meters behind them.

The cruise ship leaves. We’ll follow once they’re clear.

So, Ampuis. It’s just a small village with a pontoon enclosing a basin on the river. Our guide book said we could moor for free as long as there were no jousting tournaments. We had seen descriptions of river jousting when we were in the Morvan some years ago but never actually seen it happening. When we pulled into the pontoon, there were a bunch of people up on the steps facing the mooring but nobody paid us any mind. Later the crowd got bigger and the boats were prepared for practice. It turned out the local jousting club was giving some youngsters a chance to try it out.

The boats have the platform in the back and the jouster puts on a target/cushion around their neck and a thick pad on their thigh where they will rest the jousting pole. There are passengers in the boat to provide some momentum when the small outboard motors are cut prior to impact. Since the poles are so long and the kids were so small, the adults in the boat held the pole in place to it would hit the target and not injure anybody. When the adults are jousting, the pole is held up by the jouster.

I got a little excited at the end as I was filming.

We saw several passes with different kids and then a couple with adults in training. It was a great show. We also saw several other jousting arenas in villages down the river so it seems like it’s a real event here on the Rhone.

Ampuis is also the center of the Côtes du Róti appellation. Unfortunately, it’s a very small growing region and the bottles were out of our price range.

Saturday it was on to our next stop, les Roches de Condrieu, just 5 k downriver. The weather forecast called for really hot temperatures and ferocious winds out of the south for a couple of days so we wanted to be in a marina off the river. 

We arrived at 9:30 am so there was plenty of time to head to the grocery store across the river and then visit the swimming beach after lunch. It was really hot so it was really crowded, like hundreds of people. Being in the water you were hit with this almost physical wall of sound from all the swimmers shouting and having fun. It was almost like being beat up!

Sunday we pretty much stayed on the boat. We did wander over to the river to see the effect of the really strong winds and were glad we didn’t move on. The river was ugly. It was howling.

We decided to stay one more day and Monday we first went on a hike to a hill overlooking the town and the river.

The marina is in the center left of the picture

behind that hill with the trees.

After that we went on a bike ride downriver along the Via Rhona, a bike path that follows the river. After a not very good lunch at a ginguette (and the beer was warm), we returned to the boat to get ready to move on.

Tuesday it was about 50 k downriver to our next stop, Tournon.

One side of the river is Tournon, the other, Tain l’Hermitage, home of the Crozes-Hermitage appellation. The only mooring for barges is on the Tournon side so we moored up on the inside of one of the pontoons in the small harbor. The sign board indicated passenger vessels moored on the outside. Little did we know. I woke up about 2 am to discover we had a couple neighbors right on the other side of the pontoon. the picture is from later in the morning.

Shot from our deck. They snuck in without our hearing

Tournon was the first of several medieval villages we would stop at along the Rhone.

Perched on the side of the hill above the river, the main part originates from the early 800’s.

We took a walk on the hillside above town.

The view across the river to the Crozes-Hermitage

One of the two remaining wall towers on the Tower Walk.

When we arrived in Tournon I had been feeling a little poorly; like I was coming down with a cold. Wednesday morning Cathy Jo insisted I get out one of the self-test Covid kits we’d brought with us from Ventura. Sure enough, I tested positive. We think I probably was exposed at the grocery in La Roche as it was very crowded and the virus is rampant in France right now. Isolation time! Luckily Cathy Jo was showing no symptoms although, since we’d been in close quarters, we were sure she had it. I moved into the guest cabin, wore a mask, tried not to cough in her presence and ate my meals in the cabin. We enjoyed what must have been a fun Fete de Musique in Tournon from our back deck. Luckily just 8 k down the river was an isolated and free pontoon in La Roche de Glun. Thursday morning we headed out to do a little quarantining. 



  1. Sorry to hear you caught covid Don, we hope you haven’t suffered too much and are over it now or will be soon. And that Cathy Jo didn’t succumb. Hope you resume your travels soon. Sara and Pete

  2. Just like a very bad cold. I'm over it now. More soon.


All of a sudden I'm getting comment spam. I'll have to use Captcha until it gets under control. Sorry...