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Robin & Jim
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Posted By Robin & Jim

We are currently cruising in France with Jim's Dad (Le Grand Fromage).  He suggested the trip last fall, and we agreed - chartering a canal boat in Burgundy and then touring the Loire Valley, Mont St. Michel, and Paris by car.  It has been an interesting change of pace - running a small boat on the very narrow Nivernais Canal.

We departed from the Le Boat base in Chatel-Censoir with our 37' single-screw boat.  It's a pretty nice boat - two staterooms, a separate shower, a nice little galley and airy saloon, a bow thruster, and even a diesel heating system that is very handy for taking the chill off the cabin after the cool (chilly!) nights.

chatel-censoir

The Nivernais runs along the River Yonne - a major thoroughfare between Italy and Paris (and the northern coast) from ancient times.  Julius Caesar came through this area in 44 BC, as well as Atilla the Hun, Napoleon, etc.  There is a great deal of documented history of over 2000 years here.

The Nivernais Canal was used for over 400 years to float logs from the Morvan Forest down to Paris for heat and construction materials, and the adjacent Yonne River was used to transport blocks of stone and other supplies to Paris prior to that.

chalk cliffs

The Canal is very narrow, as are the locks (there are many) and bridges.  A towpath is now a bicycle path running along the canal, and we've seen many local as well as touring and camping bicyclists as we've traveled.

Each of the locks on the Nivernais are operated by hand, so locking is a bit time-consuming since the tender has to walk around and open and close the gates, and operate the sluices to fill or empty the lock chamber. 

 helping the locktender

You can see in the photo how narrow the locks and bridges are. The bridges are also pretty low - sitting at the upper helm station I can often reach up and brush my fingers against the bottom of the bridges we pass under.  Some of the charter boats have sun umbrellas or bimini tops, and they need to pay attention and lower everything before they go under the bridges!

We've been stopping to explore little towns and villages, though sometimes the (only) restaurant is closed.  It's a good thing we provisioned with a few things we could fix for dinner since we've had to do that a few times when towns didn't have any options.

dinner aboard

Fortunately we've had marvelous weather - cool nights but warm days in the high 70's or low 80's.  We've been enjoying the local wines and fresh croissants as often as we can.

in the lock with bikes

We have bikes aboard so we've been exploring a bit farther when we stop.  We'll continue to report from France as we cruise along...

 
2 Comment(s):
Doris Sanders said...
Oh, my goodness - sounds just wonderful!
September 28, 2012 10:26 AM
 
Brad said...
Sounds wonderful! Enjoy.
September 13, 2012 8:12 PM
 
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