It’s a chilly morning here in Chatel Censoir, but the sun is shining and the wind has died down somewhat. When I last wrote we were moored in Vincelles having made our plan D. And this is still the plan. Yay. No plan E at this stage. Vincelles is a great place to moor. It’s only €4.50 per night including electric and water. There is a Atac supermarket in town, a great boulangerie and a quayside bar/restaurant which does a roaring trade in the evening, We met up with our new English friends, Bob and Lyn, who we are playing tag with along this canal. We got all the good gen from them and Lyn very kindly made us dinner one night. Delicious tarteflett.
After three nights we decided to move on up the canal. We followed a small and slow ex-rental boat and stopped for lunch with a couple of boats, Brits and French Canadians. On the British boat there was an 18th birthday celebration and we all sang Michael happy birthday. After the mandatory lunch hour (locks closed 12-1) we finally reached Mailly-les -Ville around 2pm.
Mailly-le-Ville is a wonderful spot. The floating pontoons are new, there is power and water available and it’s free. They have an island in the middle of the river with a little beach to swim from and a snack bar which we didn’t try but heard they make a great cheeseburger. Maybe on the way back. We again tied up next to Bob and Lyn who were waiting for family to arrive by train. The boulangerie is great and only 50m away from our mooring. We explored the town and wandered down to the beach. One day we took out our inflatable tandem canoe and had a go at pumping it up. Looked good so we jumped on and had a paddle around. It was getting hot too so after our canoeing we both had a swim off the back of our boat. It was…refreshing! In other words chilly but nice once we got used to it.
There was even some drama to keep us entertained. A hire boat arrived behind us with no engine power after picking up something in their prop. A tricky manoeuvre to tie up but Alan and I helped and they were obviously pretty on to it so there was no problem. They stayed a night and in the morning a diver came to sort out the problem which turned out to be a (rival) hire boat’s umbrella had wrapped around their prop!
Funnily enough that day we carried on up the canal and while mooring at Rochers du Saussois we noticed another hire boat umbrella in the water right where we were about to moor. I remember when we hired a locaboat boat our parasol got picked up by the wind and we had to get some people on passing canoes to retrieve it. Now I know why leaving them to sink is a bad idea!
Rochers du Saussois is a spectacular outcrop of rocks (of which there are many along the canal du Nivernais), where if you are prepared to climb up the rocks there is an amazing view of the countryside. There is a path you can follow but about half way up it turns into more of a rock climbing expedition. We made it though. Fabulous views as promised. See photos below.
We travelled onwards to Châtel-Censoir, a nice mooring although it cost €11 a night. I shouldn’t complain. We have been so lucky with the free moorings some villages provide that €11 seems unreasonably expensive. There was power and water although the wifi didn’t work. The village has the collegiate church of St Potentien on the top of the hill, overlooking the canal and town. It has an 11th C Roman choir and a 13th C chapter plus a slightly creepy crypt. St Potentien was part of the evangelisation of the area in the third century. His relics were held here at some point. I have the full history of the church if anyone is interested. I had a weird experience while we were looking around the narrow street of Châtel-Censoir. I felt someone was standing beside me and got the impression of a very tall man in a long black coat. When I turned around there was no one there. It was bizarre and still gives me the chills!
This morning we departed this slightly creepy town and headed to Clamecy in the company of a hire boat with two kiwis aboard. It was a fun trip. After the last few days of rain and high winds the sun was out and we really enjoyed the day. We are now tied up in the small port and look forward to spending a few days here and perhaps getting a taxi to the nearby town of Vézelay which has an amazing basilica and is on the pilgrimage route to Saint Jacques de Compostel. Mooring costs €7 here which I consider reasonable and has free wifi (always a bonus as it’s expensive). The weather has become hot again, early to mid 30°C all this week. I’m hoping there is at least a breeze to make it more comfortable.
Next blog I’ll fill you in on Clamecy and we will have decided whether to risk going further south (risky because our boat requires 1.15m depth and this canal often has 1.2m) or we may just slowly cruise back the way we came. Both options are pretty good!