Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

In Briare

Since we have all the deferred maintenance to catch up on our cruising is going to be pretty limited, but it hasn’t exactly been all work and no play.

In 2016 when we visited Roanne, we met another American couple, Jim and Mary Neil aboard their barge Festina Tarde. One pleasant afternoon they introduced us to Pouilly Fumé, a sauvignon blanc wine produced on the east side of the Loire in the Sancerre region. Their favorite producer was a small one, Sebastian Treuillet, in the small village of Tracy-sur-Loire. When we were tied up in Sancerre that year we tried to cycle to the domaine but it was just too far and up too steep a hill, but we saved the information, assuming some day we would be able to make it. Since we have a car, this was that year. Our very helpful navigation system got us close and luckily there was a sign. A quick tasting and a chance to exercise our credit card resulted in a trip home with some delicious wine.

A few days later it was off the the caves of Bailly, home of the Cremant de Bourgogne, sparkling wine from Burgundy. We’ve been there three times by boat, twice in 2018. Again, we got to exercise the credit card.

And one of the pleasures of French towns is the weekly market. Briare’s is Friday mornings and we make it every week.

Just one of the many vegetable stands. There are others for

meat and cheese and always the roasted chickens.

You can also find shoes, clothes, handbags, mattresses

and just about anything else.

There are a number of English speakers in the port and there has been a pretty lively social scene. Not great for our livers but it does help pass the time! It’s mostly Brits and they are having to navigate the complication of Brexit. Since England is no longer part of the EU they can’t just pop back and forth like they did before. Without a visa they are limited to the 90 days in 180, just like us. Add to that the Covid complication with testing and quarantines and traveling becomes pretty difficult.

Meanwhile because of the recent surge in cases, the French government has decided to require vaccination to enter bars, cafes and other places that draw crowds. The day after President Macron announced the proposal there was a huge surge in appointments for vaccinations. You’re going to have a hard time keeping the French out of their beloved cafes! We have our card and the digital info from the State of California so we should be good.

While there may not be many European and American boats navigating the canals, the hireboat business seems to be booming, and the customers mainly seem to be French. There is a Locaboat base in the basin directly behind us and the boats have really been coming and going. The French are mad for ocean sailing but the inland waterways were, in their eyes, mostly for commerce, not pleasure. It seems the canals are being discovered, which is a good thing. Without commercial traffic, the smaller canals rely on government subsidies to keep operating and the more the French realize the wonder of their canals, the better the canal’s chances of survival.

One of the big Locaboats returning.

At 15 meters, it’s the biggest you can drive without a license.

The Briare Marina.

Oldtimer is at the bottom (yellow arrow) and the exit to the lock is at the top right, under the bridge.

The hireboat basin is through the channels behind us.

Meanwhile the rain we’ve been getting (luckily not as much as Belgium and Germany!) is keeping the town flowers in fine form. There have been a couple of warm days, but mostly the weather has been cool and partly cloudy.

The walk up to the main street in town from the Capitanarie.

We’re thinking maybe we’ll set off for our cruise this Friday or Saturday. We plan to get away for a month or so and just dawdle down the Canal Lateral a la Loire and maybe go a way up the Nivernais, navigations that we’ve traveled before. Wish us luck!


  1. How lovely to catch up with your news, you two. You seem to be settling in again well. I do hope the weather improves (or maybe it's only our part of the world that seems to be raining constantly) and that you have a lovely cruise. Keep us posted!

    1. Our rain is nothing compared to yours! The Loire is running party fast, though. Looking forward to moving Oldtimer for the first time in almost two years.

    2. They had very high water in the Saone, but maybe that's part of the eastern band of rain and storms. Germany and Belgium were the worst hit, as well as our Limburg. It's been raining too much our side as well, but we've had no flooding here. Happy cruising!

  2. Very well then - Good Luck! And be sure to taunt us with lots of detail 🙄

  3. Oh, I will, Ian. So sorry about your situation. We think of our Aussie and Kiwi friends frequently.


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