Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, November 2, 2018

Final Days, Sept. 15-18

We were on the final push to get Oldtimer ready for the winter but that didn’t prevent us from having a little fun. One day after our chores were complete we drove down to Genelard on the Canal Lateral a la Loire. Carmen, of Beauregard fame earlier in the summer on the Canal du Nivernais, had finally been joined by her husband Roger. We wanted to meet the mystery man so we took off one afternoon and joined them for a glass of wine (or two) and an apertif.
Mostly it was chores: cleaning, more cleaning, laundry, changing engine fluids and filters and more cleaning.
By Sunday, all was complete. It was off to the Hotel du Rivage in Gien for the night, followed on Monday by a train ride to Paris and the RER to the area around Charles de Gaulle Airport. We had booked a night at a hotel in the nearby village of Roissy that was on the shuttle line to and from the airport. We assume many airport workers live in the village which features several giant generic hotels and lots of small restaurants. We had a stroll around the very pleasant town and a nice meal in the evening. 
Tuesday morning it was off to the airport for the flight home; this time the train and plane travel going off without a hitch, in contrast to our trip over in April.
By Tuesday afternoon we were on the ground again on the freeway back to Ventura, another season complete.

One More Chateau

A next day we set off for a visit to a very different chateau, Chenonceau. It wasn’t until we were doing a little research after our visit that we discovered it’s the second most visited chateau in France after Versailles.

The castle has a fascinating history revolving around the women responsible for its construction and expansion.

Originally built in the 13th century by the Marques family, the castle was rebuilt in the 14th after it was burnt. Debts caused the chateau to be sold to Thomas Bohier, Chamberlain to King Charles VIII  in 1513. Bohier’s wife, Katherine Briçonnet, oversaw construction of an almost entirely new castle between 1515 and 1521.
In 1535 the castle was seized from Bohier’s son for unpaid debts to the king. In 1547 after the death of Francis I, the new king, Henry II, gave the castle to his mistress, Dianne de Poitiers. She greatly expanded the buildings and constructed extensive flower and vegetable gardens. After Henry died in 1559, his strong-willed widow and regent Catherine d' Medici forced Diane to exchange it for another. Queen Catherine then made Chenonceau her own favorite residence, adding a new series of gardens. As Regent of France, Catherine spent a fortune on the château and hosted spectacular parties. In 1560, the first ever fireworks display seen in France took place during the celebrations marking the ascension to the throne of Catherine's son Francis II. The grand gallery, which extended along the existing bridge to cross the entire river (that’s to the left in the above picture), was dedicated in 1577. Later owners included Gabrielle d'Estrées, Louise Dupin and Marguerite Pelouse, whose work on the castle exhausted her finances and forced her to give it up in 1881. In 1913, the château was acquired by Henri Menier, a member of the Menier family, famous for their chocolates, who still own it today.

During World War I Gastin Menier set up the gallery to be used as a hospital ward. 

It doesn’t look much like a hospital ward now!

During the Second World War the château, with it’s gallery, was a means of escaping from the Nazi Occupied Zone. The hallway went from one side of the River Cher (the Nazi side) to the "free" zone on the opposite bank. 
In 1951, the Menier family entrusted the château's restoration to Bernard Voisin, who brought the dilapidated structure and the gardens (ravaged in The Cher River flood in 1940) back to its former glory.

Louis XIV, the Sun King. Amazing frame, amazing hair!

After the afternoon at the chateau, it was back to the boat for the final preparations for it’s long winter sleep.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

They’re Building a Chateau!

In the many seasons we’ve spent around this area we’ve seen the tourist information brochures for Guédelon but never managed to visit. It’s not really close to the water so not accessible from the canals by bike but it’s only about 45 mins from Briare by car so this year we thought we’d pay a visit. And the folks from Hibou had told us it was very worth the trip.

In the late 1990’s a group decided to build a replica 12th century chateau-fort from scratch using the methods and materials of the time. Proceeds from admissions and donations are used to fund the project; no government money is involved. You can read the story on their website at (make sure you choose the “Anglais” option in the upper left if you’re English speaking!) and get a great drone tour of the project. Also more information at the Wiki site 

It was a beautiful day for our visit. There was much activity and lots of visitors.

That’s a human-powered winch/crane on the left
 at the base of the tower where they’re building the roof.

When completed, this will be the entrance gate with a bridge over the “moat”.
All of that scaffolding is constructed locally by hand; no power tools.

The entrance gate from the outside.

During our visit we saw workers dressing stone blocks and decorative touches, making bricks from clay and straw, cutting roofing shakes from local oak logs and making clay roof tiles, tending the horses used to pull the carts full of construction materials, making rope from locally grown fibers and ate a delicious lunch complete with bread made in the wood-fired oven.
In theory, construction is supposed to be complete sometime in the early 2020’s. We plan to come back to watch the project progress. It’s fascinating!

With our time in France coming close to an end for this year we had one more chateau to visit. Chenonceau.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Touring, September 7 and 9

Friday afternoon we took the 15 minute train ride to the neighboring town of Gien. That’s where the rental car agency is that would provide us with transportation for the next 10 days.
After we picked up the car we made a beeline for the Faiencerie Gien, a famous pottery manufacturer. They have an outlet store and we thought maybe we could find a deal. Turns out the deals weren’t enough to cause us to part with our hard earned euros so we returned to the boat, continuing our end-of-season chores. Laundry must be done, oil and filters must be changed and things packed away for the long dark winter months.
Sunday we set off again, heading down along the Loire River, back through Gien.
In the middle ages the town of Gien-le-Vieux (Old Gien) became a parish when Saint Peregrine, bishop of Auxerre, founded the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. In the eighth century, Charlemagne authorized the construction of a fortified mound around the site of the present castle (château).
In the ninth and tenth centuries the decline of the Carolingian empire and Viking raids led to a gradual abandonment of Gien-le-Vieux. The population mostly moved to the site of the current town of Gien which was easier to defend. However, the church of St. Peter and St. Paul survived until the seventeenth century.
Gien had a large Protestant community during the French Religious wars and like its neighbors, Châtillon-Coligny, Châtillon-sur-Loire and Orleans, it was a Protestant stronghold. The churches were looted and clergy hunted.
Much of Gien was destroyed during the World War 2. The town was bombed by the Luftwaffe, who aimed to destroy the town's bridge over the river to prevent the French Army from retreating. The bombardment created a huge fire which destroyed over four hundred buildings, including the town's two main churches. The town was rebuilt after the war.

The Chateau de Gien and Église Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc loom over the city and the river.

Our next stop was the Chateau Sully. We had planned to take a tour of the castle but when we arrived there was a huge Fête de la Sange taking place. We think it had something to do with hunting (sang is blood) but the place was crawling with people and the parking was a nightmare. We wandered around for a few minutes and took a couple of pictures and then beat a hasty retreat.

If you follow the link above there’s lots more information on the castle as well as a video tour. Well worth a look!

Further west along the river, our next stop was Germigny-des-Prés to see an ancient oratory, or small chapel.
Built in 806 by Theodolf, the Bishop of Orleans and private counsellor to Charlemagne, it is all that remains of his villa.
The interior is beautiful, very simple and peaceful.

In the 19th century, during one of the many reconstruction efforts a mosaic from the 900’s, covered in whitewash and depicting the Arc of the Covenant, was discovered in the western apse. Created by a Byzantine artist, it is made up of over 130,000 broken glass bricks.

The inscription at the bottom translates to “Look on and contemplate the Holy Oracle and it’s cherubim, here stands resplendent the Arc of the Testament Divine. Before this spectacle strive to touch with your prayers the Master of Thunder - and please do not overlook Theodulf in your blessings.”

Next we were off to Orléans.

Joan was here!

A statue entitled I Die Through You. The monument is near the north transept of the cathedral. 
It was erected at the time of Joan of Arc's beatification in 1909 and canonization in 1920.

The city was having it’s fall fair where all of the cultural institutions and other clubs sign residents up for winter activities and distribute schedules. We heard performances by the city orchestra and a group of pipers. The model railroad club was there as were several youth sports leagues. 
Since it was pretty late in the day and we had over an hour’s drive to get back to the boat, we didn’t stay long but we lamented that the Canal d’Orléans is closed. We would have loved to visit here for several days by boat.

In a couple of days our next excursion would take us to a château under construction.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Year’s Statistics

Here’s the map of the travels for the year. The “parking” icons between Nancy and Strasbourg are the places we stopped on our return trip. As before, if you click on the frame in the upper right corner you get a bigger map that you can zoom on to get a close view of the area we traveled.

1531 kilometers (about 950 miles)
277 hours underway over 82 days
529 locks
21 bridges
5 tunnels
about 850 liters of fuel consumed

Still to come - chateaus and cathedrals: traveling the Valley of the Loire by car.

Friday, October 5, 2018

End of the Voyage, August 26 to September 4

Dammarie sur Loing turned out to be as advertised. We arrived a little after noon on Sunday to find a grassy bank with bollards just outside of the village with free water and power. The only possible drawback was that it appeared the dirt towpath was being converted into a paved bicycle trail. Some digging had gone on and there was construction equipment scattered around. Painting would not happen if they were going to be digging up the bank. Luckily one of the workers happened by and told us the work wouldn’t begin in earnest for another week. Not entirely true as it turned out but it wasn’t enough to cause us any problems. We broke out the sanders, vacuum cleaner and paint supplies and got to work.
By Tuesday we had a coat of paint on the exterior of the front cabin and the varnish was all touched up. Since stays are supposed to be limited to 2 days and we were at a good stopping point we figured we’d move on. Besides, there was rain in the forecast for the next couple of days.
Wednesday morning we set out for Ouzouer sur Trézée, 15 k down the canal. 4 k along we passed through the village of Rogny les Sept Écluses, one of the wonders of the canal. When originally built, the canal climbed out the the Loing Valley to the valley of the Trézée River by a seven chamber lock staircase. Now, the canal passes around the hill the structure climbed with six conventional locks and pounds but the remains of the staircase are still there.

The doors are gone but the lock walls are still in place.

By 2 o’clock we had reached Ouzouer to find a very pleasant mooring in a park with the usual services and Guy and Jane on Hibou whom we’d met on the Nivernais. They were going in the opposite direction from us when we left Clamecy so we closed the circle.

The rain clouds are gathering.

Ouzouer is just a small village but very proud of their flowers. 

We’d really like to hear the story of this structure!

Wandering about the village during the day we saw what we thought was a pizza restaurant and since we hadn’t had a pie in awhile, decided to have a meal out. When we showed up at the place at dinner time, however, it turned out the restaurant wasn’t fully operational yet (no restroom facilities) so they were takeout only. We ordered our pizza and took it back to the boat. We had a better wine selection anyway.
Thursday morning we were off to our final stop for the year and more painting. After we visited Briare to drop off Ines for her taxi ride to Paris in The Flood Year (2016), we spent the next night at Beaulieu. Another long grassy bank with water and power outside a village. Time for more painting. The bonus was that it was just a couple of hours past Briare on the Canal Lateral a la Loire. Also, just a five minute bike ride down the road was a pick-your-own vegetable farm. We could have the fresh haricourt verts we’d been missing all summer.

The Beaulieu mooring in 2016.

On that road to the vegetables was a big poster advertising a Concours de Peche, a fishing contest, that would feature a friture lunch. Friture is a pile of little freshwater fish, like smelt, fried up an served with frites. Along with a glass of wine, it sounded like a great €10 lunch. We cycled off to the contest with another couple we had met at the moorings, bought our tickets and stood in line. When we got to the front, however, the last of the friture went to the people in front of us. Foiled! Apparently there were many more people for lunch than last year and they hadn’t bought enough fish. There was plenty of wine and potatoes, though, so we bought some frites and a bottle of the local rosé to drown our sorrows and cycled back to the boat for a pity lunch.
By Monday afternoon we’d managed to complete our painting tasks so Tuesday the 4th we headed back across the pont canal over the Loire and onto the branch canal that leads into the Briare marina. By 1:30 in the afternoon we were secured in our winter moorings. 

The entrance to the Pont Canal from it’s Wikipedia page.

Oldtimer in her winter home.
Briare is a "3 Flower" town.

Our flight back to the US wasn’t until the 18th so we had plenty of time to complete our end-of-season chores and do a little touring around the area by car.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Almost Done, August 24 to 30

We pulled into the moorings at Chatillon-Coligny close to 3 pm on Friday. A nice mooring with a long quay and several finger pontoons; there was plenty of room and water and electricity were provided. There was a notice that we were supposed to check in with the capitanerie/tourist office upon our arrival so we wandered up, wallets in hand. We were asked to provide the name of the boat and our nationality and then wished a “bonne journee.” No charge!
We had been clued into a good restaurant by other bargees so we walked in to town to find Le Coligny and make a reservation for Saturday lunch. That task accomplished we headed into the heart of town. There were flyers in the tourist office for the Fete Insensé that was scheduled to take place on Saturday. We weren’t sure what that was all about since insensé translates as “mad” or “foolish” but we wanted to see what town looked like before madness took over. What we found was a pretty typical small French village in the Gâtanais.

The bell tower tops the old city wall near the church St. Pierre-St. Paul.

On Saturday after our delicious lunch at the moderately fancy Le Coligny we headed into town for the Fete. Booths with all sorts of masseuses, aroma therapy consultants, aura readers and the like were set up around the center of town. One storefront held a make-your-own-music workshop with, shall we say, eccentric instruments (we spent a few minutes banging on things).  In the evening there was the usual food and drink and music, of a sort. We think maybe they gave the local high school garage bands time for a couple of songs on the stage. We could only take so much of that before we had to retreat to the boat.
Sunday morning we made a trek to the grocery store. We had our eye on a mooring just 6 k away that was outside a village but had free water and electricity. The weather was supposed to be reasonable and those painting jobs were calling. We wanted to get started.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Montargis and the Canal de Briare, August 22 to 24

Construction on the Canal de Briare, designed to connect the rivers Loire and Seine, began in 1604 by King Henri IV but was delayed by his assassination in 1610. In 1639 the works were taken over by a pair of private investors and the waterway opened for navigation in 1642, becoming Europe’s first summit level canal. It was modified several times but was not really financially successful until the canalization of the Loing was completed in 1730, making access to the Seine easier. We entered the canal at the top in Montargis and would travel it’s entire 56 k length to Briare. 
Two small rivers, the Puiseaux and the Vernisson join the Loing just before it reaches Montargis and the city is crisscrossed by small waterways. In fact the city claims to be the “little Venice of the Gâtinais”, as opposed to the other little Venices (Venicei?) across Europe.

We approached town from the north. The moorings are on the canal
 just across from the Lac des Closiers.

The tourist office even provides a walking tour of “The Circuit of Bridges” taking in the 17 bridges in the town.

One of the locks in town. The moorings are just through it. That’s Oldtimer!

Every year there is a countrywide judging of the floral displays of the towns and villages of France. Montargis is very proud of it’s “4 Fleurs” designation. Under almost all of those 17 bridges is a boat planter with a floral display.

We also visited the Eglise Ste Madeline and admired it’s beautiful stained glass.

Thursday afternoon we cycled down the towpath the the village of Amilly. While visiting the tourist office we had seen brochures for a modern art exhibition space in an old tannery. Appropriately named Les Tanneries, it opened in 2016. We were given a personal tour of the venue by a young intern. She told us it was the first time she had given the tour in English but she did very well. The space includes two floors of exhibits and an outside sculpture garden. If you follow the link you can learn more. It’s all in French but it details how the industrial space was first abandoned then repurposed as a welcoming place for artists.

Time was growing short so it was time to move on. Friday morning we were off to our next stop, Chatillon-Coligny.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Up the Canal du Loing, August 19/22

In 1719 the Duke of Orleans, already owner of the Canal d’Orleans (now sadly closed), decided to canalize the Loing River to connect his existing canal to the Seine. The work was completed in 1724. Originally the canal was made up of a series of river sections connected by constructed waterways. Major improvements, including expanding the size of the locks, took place in the 1800’s and left only two sections of river as part of the canal; right at one end from St. Mammes to Moret and in Nemours. It’s a very pleasant waterway with recently automated locks allowing Cathy Jo to once again exercise her “supapowa”.

The remote control used to trigger the locks.

We picked up the remote at the first lock just out of Moret about 9 am and after 13 k and 6 locks found a mooring spot along the bank in Montcourt. It was a nice spot, basically in the backyard of a row of houses, three rings on a grassy bank. We were just in time for Sunday lunch, just a little after noon. We went for a little bike ride around the area after lunch a stumbled across a big field of something that looked a little familiar.

No it’s not the smoking kind. This hemp is probably used either for the oil or the fiber for fabrics.

We weren’t planning on spending much time in any of our stops along the canal. We were supposed to arrive in Briare (our winter moorings) in a little over a week and we wanted to get some painting done before then. We were scoping out possible spots; free with water and electricity provided but not close to a town so our noise and dust wouldn’t cause problems. Also, since we are planning on hauling the boat out at Migennes in the spring, we’ll be retracing our steps then and can revisit anyplace that looks interesting.
Monday morning we headed off to a slightly bigger town, Nemours. it was just 5 k up the canal and no locks so we were tied up by 10:30. One of the mooring spots on our chart was close to the center of town, a pontoon in a park on the river, only room for us. It looked a little sketchy but we tied up anyway. It turns out the “official” moorings are through a lock off the river where there’s room for several boats with water and electricity available. We were only going to stay the one day so we remained where we were although we did have to give some “side eye” to some “yoots” who showed up with a boombox and settled in right at the top of the ramp down to the boat. They were too young for drinking, though, so they cleared off after awhile, leaving us in relative peace.
The view to the other side of the river as the sun went down was very picturesque.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the town but, like many of the smaller towns in the area, it looked like it had seen more prosperous days.
Tuesday morning we were off to our next stop just 15 k up the canal, Neronville. There was a good bank with lots of bollards and a park with picnic tables and some shade but the main reason for our stop there was that it was an easy bike ride to the town of Chateau Landon, another Village de Caractère.
Situated above the Fusain River the town has had a long history. Inhabited in Neolithic times and apparently an important Gallic city, not much is known before an oratory to honor St. Severin, who miraculously cured Clovis, king of the Franks in 504, was built on the site in the mid-500’s. In the 1000’s an important abbey was constructed and heavily modified in the 1200’s. During the Revolution all of the religious buildings were confiscated by the state and sold into private hands. In the 1890’s the abbey was given to the state and converted into a retirement home. In the 2000’s, the building was completely renovated.
Limestone quarried near the town was used to build the Arc de Triomphe, Sacré Coeur  and several bridges in Paris.

Approaching town from the other side of the river.

The Abbey/Retirement Home is all the way to the right
 with other town buildings constructed on top of the old defensive wall.

Sitting all by itself out in the middle of a farm yard just outside of town,
 the Saint-André Tower is all that remains of an important abbey.

Wednesday morning we set out for Montargis, the town at the junction of the Canal du Loing, the Canal de Briare and the closed Canal d’Orleans.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Moret sur Loing, August 17-19

Cathy Jo was on the dock in Ventura the other day and Robin said “You can’t be here. You’re still in France. I read the blog.” Yes, well, I am a little behind. We returned to Ventura Sept. 18 but I’m trying to catch up. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

Moret sur Loing was the home for many years of the impressionist painter Alfred Sisley, a British colleague of Monet and Renoir, who died here in 1899. Many parts of town look like they came right out of one of Sisley's paintings. In fact they do. The tourist walking tour map shows exactly where you can stand to see what Sisley painted.

The mill

Le Pont de Moret is one of Sisley’s works.

A balloon flies over the Moret moorings on Saturday evening

The weather was very pleasant and it was the weekend so there much activity around the waterfront. There was even a fete with the usual music and food in the town square Saturday night. We’d already had dinner so we settled for some delicious ice cream for dessert to accompany Christine and her “band” (a couple of backup singers performing to a prerecorded instrumental track).

Sunday morning we were off down the Canal du Loing; the waterway paralleling the Loing River. Other than the short Nancy bypass canal we took in very early June, this would be the first “new water” for the year. We were looking forward to it.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Down the Yonne, August 13-17

Our next stop was the town of Villeneuve sur Yonne, about 30 down the river. Since the locks on the Yonne are staffed they close for a lunch but, even with the hour break, we were still moored by 2:45 pm. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to hit the streets just yet. In another of those “it’s not all fun and drinking wine on the canals of France” moments, the toilet had decided to malfunction along the way and so repairs were necessary. It took a couple of hours and several pairs of rubber gloves but things were operational just in time for the evenings aperitif.
Since we didn’t have time to check out the town on our arrival, we decided we’d spend another day to investigate.

The Villeneuve moorings. Where is everybody? Keep reading to find out…

Tuesday morning we visited the tourist office and picked up the town walking tour. 
Surrounded by walls in the Middle Ages with the gates on both sides of town, the portes, toward Sens and one towards Joigny still remain.

The Porte de Joigny

And the Porte du Sens. They’re doing some restoration work on this Porte. You can see how thick the town walls were.

In the picture you can see the poster for the Feu d’Artifice (fireworks) scheduled for that day. Many of the small towns in France have Fete Foraines, fun fairs, for a couple of weeks in the summer. They’re small operations, featuring rides for the kids and a small selection of the usual midway games. Get enough balls in the basket and you get a giant stuffed animal type of games. Often, on the last night, there will be a fireworks display. The French love their fireworks and some of the shows, even in smaller towns, can be quite elaborate. As luck would have it, Villeneuve’s fete foraine was ending Tuesday and, if we stuck around for an extra day, we could see the fireworks. Tuesday was also the Catholic feast of the Assumption and for reasons we don’t understand, always features elaborate fireworks displays. The only complication was that the quay where we were moored would be closed because the fireworks would be launched from right on the other side of the canal. We talked to the lock keeper at the lock just past the moorings and asked it we could stay on the waiting quay for the night and, after consulting with his boss, we were told it was permitted. Just before noon we passed through the lock, moored up and had a front row seat for the evenings festivities. Thus the empty quay in the picture.
Wednesday we were off to Pont sur Yonne, another 29 k down the river. When we pulled into the moorings about 1:30 we discovered yet another fete foraine and Wednesday night would be their fireworks.
In addition to the fete, there was a giant vide grenier, maybe the largest we’ve seen in our years in France. The whole town was taken over.

This is just one of the several streets lined with stalls selling all kinds of stuff.

Is Cathy Jo looking for kid’s clothes? Naaah!

Another fireworks display successfully viewed, Thursday morning we were off to the confluence of the Yonne and Seine Rivers at the town of Montereau fault Yonne. We moored up on a not-very-nice pontoon that was lit up overnight like a Belgian freeway. We were glad to get underway in the morning, headed down the Seine.
We only had 16 k and one lock on the river but were reminded of the large commercial traffic that travels the waterway when this large commercial came up behind us and into the lock. Luckily the locks are very large and there was plenty of room for us both.

But really…Octopussy???

A little before 11 am we were tied up the Mssr. Bouillet’s fuel dock in St. Mammes, lightening our bank account once again. 420 liters at €1.65 a liter. Ouch! Really not that bad, though, remembering we last topped up in St. Jean de Losne at the end of June.
Just after noon we were secure at the moorings in Moret sur Loing, a most picturesque spot. When we left here in a couple of days we would be on waterways we hadn’t traveled before, something of a novelty this year.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Adventures on the Yonne, early 1800’s

I wanted to quote from our chart guide, The Editions Du Breil guide for the Bourgogne/Nivernais. It tells the story of early navigation on the river.

“The canalization of the Yonne with its locked weirs and side canals dates from the end of the 19th century. Before that, downstream navigation was possible by means of artificial flash floods. Roughly once a week, weirs on the Yonne, Cure, Armancon and Vanne were opened in a predetermined order and barges, timber rafts and passenger boats cast off, all at the same time, carried by the flood waters towards the Seine…”  It was chaos, with all of the craft crashing about in the flood trying to stay afloat.

“After the passage of the flood came the l’affameur, the closure of the flash locks, followed by a rapid drop in the water levels. The boats which had not been able to keep up with the flood ran aground and had to wait for the next flood. In 1840, a wine grower from Auxerre even sued the river authorities for his wine turned to vinegar during a long voyage interrupted by many groundings.”
Luckily for us, ours was an uneventful passage.

One unfortunate feature of the Yonne, however, is that some of the lock have sloping sides instead of the usual straight walls. Though the lock chambers are bigger, 92 meters long and between 8 and 10 meters wide, the sides slope inward from the top. In the chambers on the upper part of the river that sees little commercial traffic, the waterways authorities have installed pontoons that ride up and down the slope, allowing smaller boats (like ours) to tie up for the locking maneuver. Further down the river, however, the big commercial barges would destroy the pontoons so the best strategy for small boats is not to tie up and just maneuver around in the lock while the water levels change.
No pictures of the locks. We were busy.

Also in the past, the lock keepers had a reputation for surlyness, especially to foreigners. Sometimes boats were made to wait for no apparent reason, milling around in front of the lock, or the doors were closed just as the boat started to enter. It seems all those old guys (and they were all guys) have retired, or the VNF had instituted a charm offensive because we had no troubles navigating the locks this time and the eclusiers were very helpful.

At the second Yonne lock we had quite a wait as another boat was coming up. As the boat rose in the lock I thought the paint job looked a little familiar. A quick look through the binoculars revealed Ferrous, Ted and Charlotte’s barge. They’d been to visit us in Toul and we had lunch with them in Savoyeaux on the Saone. They were on their way to the Burgundy canal and we hailed greetings as we passed.

Our stop Sunday night was not very picturesque; the Simon Evans Boatyard in Migennes, at the confluence of the Yonne and Canal de Bourgogne. We’re thinking of hauling the boat out of the water for some new bottom paint in the spring and we wanted to make some inquiries.
To our surprise, Simon was around on Sunday afternoon (people had told us “he’s alway there” but we didn’t expect Sunday!). Formalities concluded, Monday morning we headed downriver to our next stop, Villeneuve sur Yonne.