Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Monday, June 6, 2022

On the River, Chalon-sur-Saone, May 28-30

 Cruising on the river, especially the Saone, is very different than canal cruising. There are very few locks (only 2 in the 144 k between Chalon-sur-Saone and Lyon) the river is very wide and at this time of year, there is very little current and we are going downstream.

When we stopped in Chalon in 2011 we only stayed one night and did very little exploring. The mooring was in a marina across the bridge from the main part of town and, by our standards at that time, expensive. Now there is a secure pontoon right on the city front that’s less expensive than the marina for a boat our size . The picture of Oldtimer at the end of the last posting is on that pontoon.

We arrived Friday afternoon and did a little exploring but decided to leave most of it for Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Friday night Bill and Nancy tried, I say tried, to take us out for dinner. While sailing in to town, Nancy made online reservations for a nice restaurant on the island. We arrived at the appointed hour to find the restaurant closed. It was a very busy holiday weekend so we walked down the restaurant street, trying to find someplace that wasn’t complet (full). We finally found a place that would seat us. After a lengthy wait, our first course arrived. Then we waited and…watched in frustration as others who were seated after us had their main course, coffee, paid their bill and left. We finally confronted the waiter who told us we would be served in “five minutes.” By now it was after 10 o’clock. Bill paid the bill for the two bottles of wine and the starters we’d had and we retreated to the boat where Bill cooked up omelettes. Not a happy restaurant experience!

After the Vaniotas’ departure we wandered the city, which we discovered we really enjoyed. The shops were busy, the streets crowded and everything looked relatively prosperous.

It’s believed Chalon-sur-Saone was founded in the 1st century BC on a terrace above the river. It changed shape repeatedly to encompass its population and attempt to protect it from various invaders like the Germanic tribes in the 3rd century.

From an exhibit we visited in the town museum, Chalon in 1785 

with fortifications on the hill above town, now gone.

The city waterfront and the Saint Laurent bridge.

This half-timbered building, the Mothe House

 is on the main square in front of the Cathedral

Built in the Roman and Gothic styles, from the 9th to 16 centuries,

the cathedral facade was destroyed during the Revolution and rebuilt in 1827.

Attached to the cathedral is a most beautiful cloister. Archeological studies have discovered that construction on the cloister was begun sometime around 1000 and is the oldest in the region still standing. It’s even older than the cathedral itself. In 2009 it was closed to the public and serious study and reconstruction was begun. One whole wall had to be demolished because it was in such bad shape but it was reconstructed close to the original style, but not so close that it’s not easy to see that it’s new. It was finally reopened to the public in 2020.

The old, restored part

Saturday afternoon after escorting the Vaniotas’ to the train station, we wandered over to the giant shopping center near the marina and then surprised Pete and Sarah, our friends from Briare on Mariana, and made arrangements to meet at the Sunday market in town.

Sunday morning we arrived at the square in front of the cathedral and made the circuit, picking up fruits and vegetables along the way. We noticed that the street leading away from the square also had some stalls so we started down it and kept going…and going…and going. We never did reach the end as we had arranged to meet Pete and Sarah in front of the cathedral and were afraid they might think we forgot. It was truly an epic Market!

Sunday night we were treated to the light display on the Saint Laurent Bridge.

Monday morning it was off to our next stop, Tournus and another serious attempt to fill the wine locker.


  1. We enjoyed Chalon and seeing you. We visited the church but how on earth did we miss those cloisters?? They are beautiful.

  2. That comment is from us btw. We don’t seem to be able to connect via our Google account so it just comes up as anonymous! Love Sara and Pete x

    1. Hi, Pete,
      They really did a great job on the cloisters.
      The comment thing is a real problem. The only way I've found to defeat it is to disable all the security measures on my browser to post the comment and then reenable them when I'm done.


All of a sudden I'm getting comment spam. I'll have to use Captcha until it gets under control. Sorry...