Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Clamecy, July 22-25

When we traveled the Nivernais Canal in 2009 we spent two days in Clamecy. We planned on at least that this time. It was going to be very hot and the river is very close by (in fact, right north of town the canal joins the river for a stretch), and, according to the information we had, there was a swimming beach on the river very nearby. We arrived Sunday just before noon.
One of the advantages of staying several days in a place is that, with the constant turnover of boats, you can scope out the mooring places and move to a better one when it opens up. When we first arrived, the spot we moored up in had some shade in the late afternoon but not much. Luckily for us, the next morning the boat that was in the “primo” spot moved on so we were able to grab it. An overhanging tree provided shade beginning about noon. Overhanging tree did mean that sap had to be washed off the boat every morning but that was a small price to pay with daytime temps hitting the mid 90’s.

Clamecy was the headquarters of “flottage” beginning in the mid 1500’s. Logs from the Morvan forests were floated down streams and rivers to be gathered up into large rafts to be further floated down the rivers Yonne and Seine to supply the fireplaces of Paris. Clamecy was the major assembly point. By the early 1800’s the traffic reached it’s high point then gradually declined until the 1920’s, when it ended.
The town is very attractive, with narrow twisting streets and large numbers of picturesque half-timbered buildings.

And the required old church looming above the town. The construction of the The Collegiate Church of Saint-Martin took over 400 years, from the end of the 12th century until the 16th century.

Just across the canal and the river is the Notre-Dame-de-Bethléem church, built in 1926 and is the second church in France constructed entirely of concrete. It was built to commemorate Reynier, the 9th Bishop of Bethlehem in Palestine who sought refuge in Clamecy in 1223 and founded le petit évêché de Bethléem-les-Clamecy (the small bishopric of Bethlehem in Clamecy.

We spent our mornings doing the scenic walking tours provided by the tourist office and our afternoons at the swimming hole on the river. We were very glad for the cool water!
There was also a pretty active social scene. We met the owners of Hibou, Guy and Jane, and reconnected with David and Irene on Kleine Beer. We also met Carmen and her son Louis for the first time. Carmen, Dutch born but British educated and now living in Australia, and her husband had purchased an ex-hireboat, Beauregard, but he was unable to join her for a couple of months. In the meantime, She had her son’s help for a couple of weeks and then she would be on her own. Very adventurous! We would be stopping in many of the same places for the next few weeks.
We also had a great time watching the show as the hireboats milled around getting in and out in the morning and late afternoon and hotel barges moving through. The port was a pretty busy place.
Unfortunately, the water supply to the port bathrooms had sprung a leak so the taps on one side of the port had to be shut off. That left only one water tap on the other side of the port available for filling the tank. We wanted to top off before we left so our departure Thursday morning was delayed while we waited for a spot close enough for our hose to reach. Despite the delay we were able to set off about 9:30, again headed north on the canal.

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