We woke this morning to a gorgeous summers day, even though it’s officially autumn tomorrow. The leaves have started to fall so it’s not far away. Since we left Clamecy the weather has been hot, around 35°. We have been in Villiers-sur-Yonne for a couple of days and what a beautiful spot it is. The Yonne river parallels the canal here and we were able to swim everyday plus there is plenty of shady trees.
However I have been plagued by little black biting flies which flock to me in droves. I’m like their bloody mothership, the little f*#*!ers. So it’s not all fun in the sun!
But back to Clamecy, a medieval gem according to the tourist pamphlet we picked up at the info centre. And it actually lives up to it’s hype. Officially established in 635AD by the Bishop of Auxerre the town is full of half timbered houses and narrow often sloping streets.
The collegial church of St Martin dominates the town, constructed at the end of the 15th century. Apparently the architect and master stone mason, known as Bat-Le-Duc, fell off the scaffolding of the 55m tower and was killed during construction. Bugger. Anyway the church is stunning with a central rose window and a recently restored Cavaillé-Coll organ.
There is another church in Clamecy, Notre Dame of Bethlehem, which is very unusual looking, almost Middle Eastern, the style chosen to pay homage to the event in the 13 th C when the Bishopric of Bethlehem was exiled to Clamecy.
This area used to be all about wood floating. From 1549 until 1923 logs of wood, tied together to form wood trains, were floated to Paris to warm the city. There were no real roads back then so wood was floated down the Yonne river. It was big business, for example in 1804 700,000 cubic metres of wood was floated to Paris. However by 1923 barges on the Nivernais Canal took over and the need to float logs died out. Now once a year there is a wood floating festival but we missed it by a few weeks. Malheureusement! (That may be my favourite French word). (Oh, means unfortunately!) .
After a few days in Clamecy we headed a little further south to Villiers-sur-Yonne. At one point we did graze the bottom of the boat, just before a lock, but other than that the depth was ok. We spoke to another boater who went further than us, towards the summit, and scraped a few times. We were thinking about heading to Tannay but having had a look at what was on offer there we decided to return to Clamecy. An eclusier did say there was 1.5m tirant d’eau (maximum draft) on the Nivernais Canal but we decided it wasn’t worth it.
I think we will spend a couple of nights here again, it’s such a nice spot. We visited the marché last Saturday and found a couple of interesting choices.