Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, July 8, 2016

Up the Saone (Again)

Last year after our lockfest on the Canal du Bourgogne we spent 3 weeks dawdling on the River Saone. It was hot, hot hot! and we needed shade and swimming. This year it wasn’t so hot so there wasn’t any swimming, just moving up the river.
During our 3 days in Saint Jean we managed to hook up with friends we hadn’t expected to see again so soon. We also did our part to support the boat chandleries and the fuel dock. Saint Jean de Losne is one of the few places in France with a good supply of boat stuff so we made the most of our time there. We also had a visit from the newly established Gendarmerie Fluvial de Saint Jean de Losne, the water police. The officer who came on board looked over our paperwork, checked our life jackets and discovered our fire extinguishers were out of date. (The fire extinguisher issue is apparently universal as we had a hard time finding two new ones that afternoon. The one chandlery was all sold out!) He was very proud of the four (!) boats they had for gendarmerie duties and was very polite and helpful. All we had to do was email a picture of the receipt for the new fire extinguishers and we were good to go.
Monday morning after refilling Oldtimer’s fuel tank with 650 liters, we were off up the river. Our first stop was Pontailler sur Saone. The municipal quay is right downstream from a bridge and, although the current on the river wasn't too bad, when funneled through the bridge abutments it was hooting! We were actually rocking back and forth a little from the water rushing by. In the morning it took some extra power to get through the bridge but mighty Oldtimer managed just fine.
Tuesday night we tied up next to the swimming beach at the village of Autet. We spent several days there last year in the trees, enjoying the swimming and visiting the buvette set up at the beach for evening cocktails. No swimming this year but we did visit the buvette. The next morning as we departed the maintenance man was out knee deep in the water raking the sand clean of weeds.
Next stop was Port sur Saone, another village that sprung up around the water-borne trade of the Saone in the old days. They’ve maintained the long riverfront quay that used to be the stopping place for the commercial barges. No services but good, secure moorings right in the center of things. They're also making a concerted effort to improve the town. Increased traffic on a major road through town, and one of the few bridges over the river, has essentially cut the town in two .Big plans are afoot to route the highway around town and redevelop tne main street. There was a display of "Port sur Saone, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" posters on the waterfront; some land-use planning consultants hit the gold mine. We hope it all works out because we liked the town; there's real potential.

As usual, one of our first stops was the tourist office. We browsed through the usual brochures for events and such, looking for an interesting bike ride as we thought we’d stop for a day. We walked up the the desk to get maps and information and Cathy Jo let out a yelp. C’est moi! There we were! On the wall! 

Sometime last year when we were cycling around, someone took our picture and they used it for the poster touting cycling the the Valley of the Saone. We thought it just a little ironic that a couple of Americans would turn up on a French cycling poster. They also printed a postcard. We picked up a couple for souvenirs. And this year we have helmets.
Friday it was more up the river, finding another good bankside spot. This time, Oldtimer had a front lawn!

Saturday around 3:30 pm we exited the first lock of the Saone and at around 3:45 went through the first lock on the Canal des Vosges. We’d completed the Saone navigation and now it was time to climb a hill.

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