Monday August 27th 2012 we set off from Dompierre-sur-Besbre on our first ever canal boat holiday, having taken the train from Paris the day before from the Gare l’Austerlitz with a connection at Verizon-Ville, only an 11 minute connection time. Unfortunately our train departed Paris 20 minutes late which caused me some worry as there was only the one train connection to Dompierre on a Sunday.
However I was pleasantly surprised when a railway official came by during the journey to ask about our connection and to confirm the Dompierre train would wait for us. Some call me pessimistic, I say I’m a realist, but I’m happy to admit that is exactly what happened and quite a number of passengers hopped onto the waiting train and we were off to Dompierre, arriving at 3pm. We lugged our bags up the road to the Auberge de l’Olive. Such a lovely places, the rooms were fine, nothing special, but that evening we had booked a table at the auberge restaurant and it was superb.Fixed Prix was €29 for the Traditional menu. Delicieux
The next day we wandered down to the Locaboat base and picked up our Penichette 1180 Flybridge. We had a handover from Jacque. In French, of which I understood every 10th word. Not good at boating French. A decided we were fine and we headed out of the base and to our first lock. All went very smoothly with 2 of us securing forward and aft ropes, 1 hopped off to help the eclusier with opening the sluice gates and one at the helm.
We were so happy with how our first lock went that we decided to tie up not far down the canal and break out the vin. It was a beautiful night, 21 degrees and moonlit. We ate a meal of baguettes, fromage and cold meats and listened to Frank Sinatra. Bliss 🙂 The boys decided to erect our Silver Fern flag after a bottle of vin and I personally was not surprised the next morning to find it flying upside down.
Tuesday August 28. Had a difficult nights sleep with the mattresses being squibs and my hips got quite sore. The next morning we went through another lock and tied up near Beaulon and biked into the village for some provisions, including baguettes. Travelled on down to Gannay-sure-Loire where the eclusier said he had set the lock for a boat coming the other way and we would have to wait for an hour or so. We decided to walk into Gannay where we visited the boucherie and the epiciere, then a tiny cafe for a beer, wine and coffee. Back at the barge and the eclusiere was still waiting for this phantom barge.
Something very strange happened when we arrived back at the barge. It was pointing in the opposite direction to when we left it! So bizarre. There was talk of a gremlin, following us along the canal and messing with our ropes, tying the flag upside down and repositioning the boat. The alternative story was that one of our stakes had come out allowing the boat to float away from the bank (stern line still attached) and some kids, helped by another boatee, had tied it up to a bollard, this time facing in the opposite direction. Believe what you will…
To be continued…