Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, July 26, 2019

Down the Bourgogne, June 28-July 5

It continued to be very hot with temps in the mid to upper 30’s. Our days followed a pattern; some cycling and exploring in the morning followed by “resting” and, when possible, swimming in the afternoon when temps reached their peak.
We had cycled from St. Victor down the canal to our next potential stop, the gite and cafe at Banet, lock 34, to see if there was some shade and we figured if we got into the right spot, there would be some protection from the sun in the afternoon. 
A few years ago a Swiss couple who had been partners in a magnificent barge, Baron de l’Ecluse, sold their part and leased the lock house at Lock 34. They have since developed a bankside mooring with water and electricity available, as well as a small cafe and store selling local products; wine, pates and the like, as a “retirement” project. We’d stopped there before and we wanted to stop there again.

The Baron in 2006

Friday we  made the 6 1/2 k and 4 locks in about an hour and a half and were moored by about 10:30. After lunch we made the short bike ride to St. Marie-sur-Ouche to do a little swimming. Saturday before it got too hot we cycled down to our next potential mooring, Fleury-sur-Ouche to check that out and found a spot that would get us some shade. We also needed to stock up on groceries as we knew we wouldn’t make Fleury before the supermarket closed at 12:30 on Sunday so we did a little shopping. When we moved to Fleury we also found a very welcoming swimming hole that we put to good use on Sunday afternoon.

The swimming hole at Fleury on a hot Sunday afternoon.

Monday morning it was off the 15 k to Dijon.
We’ve been in Dijon many times, beginning with our first barge trip with John and Patti in 2006. It was still very hot so we weren’t going to do a lot of wandering around but we did want to do some shopping and visit the Beaux Arts Museum which had just undergone an facelift (and it’s free). One of the oldest fine arts museum in France, it had an extensive collection of all kinds of art; painting and sculpture from the ancient to the modern.
The entrance to the museum is, well, monumental.

A really beautiful altar pieces from the Champmol Charterhouse.

The featured exhibit is the reconstructed tomb of  Phillip the Bold, the first Duc of Bourgogne, and his wife Margaret of Flanders.

The museum’s website is here  and the wiki is here.

As for shopping, we were startled when the supermarket close to the mooring turned out to be  big hole in the ground with new apartments going up. Luckily it was replaced by a big new Intermarche just a couple of blocks away. That wasn’t the only big construction project. The elegant old hospital complex is being reimagined as le Cité International de la Gastronomie et du Vin, we’re guessing a kind of Disneyland of food and wine. Shops, residences, a school, exhibits and demonstrations are all supposed to be part of the big new complex. We also took the tram out to the giant shopping center to visit the Apple store. It was close to my birthday so Cathy Jo wanted to get me a ‘tit cadeau. We also managed a visit to the giant covered market, always a highlight.

It was very quiet on the moorings. Just us, one other cruiser and the hotel barge La Vie en Rose, closed up between charters. Usually the moorings would be very busy but low water levels and the weed problem seemed to have scared many boaters off.
We were startled awake at 4 am Tuesday by a knock on the side of the boat. The pompiers (firemen) had arrived, responding to reports of an alarm at the apartments. It tuned out to be La Vie en Rose but nobody was aboard and they wondered if we knew where the owner was. They eventually found him later that morning and the alarm turned out to be a bilge water alarm. He had a small leak in his prop shaft, easily fixed and no damage. As compensation, Alex, the owner and captain, invited us over for aperitif Wednesday evening, sharing with us a very nice bottle of cremant. He also gave us a tour of the boat, actor Sterling Hayden’s French residence of many years. It is his first year with the boat and we learned alot about the economics and mechanics of running a hotel barge in France. His website is here.

Still hot, Thursday, July 4, we celebrated in the shade alongside the bank at Longecourt, near where we’ve spent a couple of 4ths in the past. It was a very trying day with the weed very thick in the canal. So thick, in fact, that the eclusiers were having trouble opening and closing the lock doors. The weed would get jammed behind the doors when they were trying to open them and prevent the doors from closing all the way when they wanted to empty the lock. Frustratingly, they didn’t even have the tools (pitchforks or boathooks) the clear the weed out of the way. We had to use our boathook to help them out on a couple of occasions. And of course the stuff would get wrapped around the propshaft making for much backing and forthing to get it clear. Luckily for us we have cooling pipes to cool the engine. Those boats that use canal water for cooling were having a terrible time.
By noon Friday we were moored bankside in St. Usage, a spot we’d used many times before, just before the big basin at St. Jean de Losne and the end of the Canal de Bourgogne. We had more grocery shopping to do, some social calls to make and a World Cup Soccer match to watch on Sunday afternoon.


  1. I’ve read that some canals are closed due to the lowwater levels. I’m glad you’re still pursuing! Always lovely to read your posts. You know how to make the most of your travels! I hope we’ll be back on the waterways next year too!

  2. Several canals are closed or nearly so. The Yonne side of the Burgundy, the Centre, the western half of the Marne au Rhine and the upper Meuse are shut. The Briare is hanging on by a thread and everything else in central France is operating at less depth than designed. It's been a trying year but we've managed so far.

  3. That’s difficult! Where are you now? Will you be able to complete the trips you’ve planned?


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