Well! So much for Allez les Bleus. We were heading to a bar in St Florentin to watch France play Portugal in the Euro Football finals. Somehow we ended up inviting ourselves (Martin, I’m looking at you) into the local Portuguese Football club rooms. Hilarious evening. Alan made a new friend, Christian, who wasn’t interested in the footie and wanted to chat in Franglais the whole night. Jacqui and I were told by an old timer we must be careful not to cheer for France so Vamos la Portugal it was.
And they won! Voilà. Seemed we backed the winning team after all!
It has been very hot. About 35° and not much less inside the boat. We’ve made sure we had power for these scorchers so at least we can run the fans but after a while you are just circulating hot air. The weather broke though and we are back to a very nice 22°. Much better for travelling with the top down too.
Since leaving St-Flo we are now in new territory! We haven’t been down here before. And sadly we left Martin and Jacqui behind as they are turning around and heading down the Nivernais.
We departed St Flo at 9.15 heading east. The first lock is just over 5 meters but we had an eclusier who lowered a boat hook down to take our ropes. And from then on we had help at each lock so it was an easy journey considering we are climbing which is always harder than descending.
Before 12 (Le dejeuner bien sûr) we scaled through six locks and 16km. We stopped for lunch at the floating pontoon just before lock 99 (Charrey) and at 1pm the lock was ready for us. The morning was so easy we decided to carry on to Tonnerre, another nine kms and four locks.
The countryside is pretty along here. Plenty of fields of wheat or rye, mainly harvested into rounds and left in the fields. A little reminiscent of Monet’s Haystacks except the shape of course. Villages are dotted along the canal, all seem to have a church but no commerce.
Our luck ran out at the second lock of the afternoon when we caught up to a 28m barge. As it takes up most of the room in the lock we had to wait for at each lock after that. The barge has a family on it who look like they are on holiday. The temperature on the deck went up to 30° due to the fact we are in a canal sheltered by trees on both sides.
We finally reached Tonnerre where we tied up for the next few days as the locks close on Thursday for the 14th, what we call Bastille Day although I am told the French don’t. Haven’t got to the bottom of that yet. The tie up in Tonnerre is between to locks and the water levels can reduce dramatically over night. Madame from the office told me on Sunday night boats were grounded due to some issue with balancing the water.
When we arrived there was no place on the quay for us as there were a few long barges plus a hotel barge taking up all the room. We put stakes into the ground along the bank, a tricky manoeuvre as we couldn’t get close enough to jump off so had to put out our gangplank which kept moving and was decidedly unstable! Got there in the end and managed to hook up to the power. €8.90 per night for power and water for up to five people.
Tonnerre will be our base for the next few days. Looking forward to exploring the area and the fireworks!
St Florentin to Tonnerre – 25kms, 11 locks, 6.5 hours