Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Monday, September 3, 2018

Lucy to Vermenton, July 30 to August 6

After Lucy sur Yonne we followed pretty much the same pattern for the next week; travel just a few k, tie up by noon or shortly after, maybe stay an extra day. Besides wanting to take things slowly, there was another reason.
Oldtimer is 16 meters and regulations require an ICC, International Certificate of Competence, a European captain’s license, be held by at least one person on the boat. We’ve always used my US captain’s license as a substitute, although that’s not strictly legal. I was afraid of eventually running into some gendarme who decided to abide by the letter of the law and require the ICC. There is a hireboat base in Vermenton, France Afloat, run by English expats, that would allow me to get the license. It only takes a day, with a short written exam on the rules and a practical demonstration of ability to handle the boat, neither of which would be too much of a problem, given our experience over the last 10 years. The person giving the exam wasn’t available until August 7, however, so we were going to go slow enough to arrive there at that date. Actually, we were going to go slightly beyond that and backtrack, but only one day’s travel.
After Lucy we stopped at the pontoon at Rochers du Sassois. Like the Roches de Basseville we visited earlier, this cliff looms over the river. In this case, however, the navigable channel is in the river so the rocks are right above the boat. We stopped here for lunch in 2009 and climbed to the top (not that difficult; there’s a path), but this time we just spent our time diving off the side of the boat into the cool water; it was still very hot. We did take the time to bike over to the nearby campground, however, to reserve our daily bread for the next day.

Oldtimer is moored up all the way to the right of the picture.

Tuesday we were off to Mailly la Ville. This time we spent an extra day on the middle of three pontoons. There was a good swimming beach, although it was crowded with kids on vacation, but there was a snack bar where we could have an all American lunch, a hamburger classic (with American cheese!), frites and a beer.

The Mailly plage.

One of the three pontoon (not the one we were on) stacked with barges.

We used the extra day to take a morning bike ride to Mailly le Chateau, a village we had visited in 2009 (read about it here.) Unfortunately, the boulangerie was closed on Wednesday, of course.
Thursday it was on to a mooring spot in a basin near Bazarnes. We used the morning coolness to revisit the trout farm at Pregilbert. We had cycled there from Mailly but it was too warm and we didn’t want to carry fresh fish all the way back on the bikes. At the farm you can either catch your own fish or they will net them up and prepare them for cooking for you. We chose the latter, returning to the boat with two fresh trout for dinner. From our mooring we were very close to a good beach and we had a nice afternoon there until we returned to the boat. The three “kid boats”, craft filled with kids on summer holiday, like a YMCA trip, had decided to moor up in the same spot and told us we needed to move to make room for them. Rather that put up with the disruption, we moved on to the waiting pontoon right before the next lock. Luckily for us, there was good shade there and the lock keeper told us it was no problem to stay the night.
Friday it was on the the quay at Bailly, again a mooring on the river allowing for swimming right from the boat. Bailly is also a 5 minute walk from Les Caves Bailly Lapierre, headquarters for some excellent cremant du Bourgogne, the sparkling wine of Burgundy. We made a trip up to the very cool cave and stocked the wine locker with the sparkling stuff and their good red, Coulange la Vineuse.

The tasting room. You can also buy a glass (or three) of their product in the mid 60 degree coolness and take a tour of the cellars. We skipped the tour this time as we did it when we were here in 2009.

The Bailly mooring. Just us and a hireboat. As you can see, we found the shade!

Sunday morning we headed back toward Vermenton. We’d spent the night just before the port so we could be there bright and early for our appointment Tuesday morning.


  1. What a wonderful cave! I'm sure those temperatures were a delicious change. It was incredibly hot where we were then too. As for your ICC, I'm sure you must have passed it with flying colours!

    1. It's really nice that you can buy a glass (or three) there and enjoy it in the coolness.


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