Thursday 25 August. As forecasted this week we are having a bit of a heatwave. Temperatures round 35° (inside and outside) and as usual very little breeze. Much as we love the St Jean de Losne marina it can get very hot so we headed out onto the Saône river in search of a breeze.
The Saône links to the Rhône allowing a navigable network from the Med through northern France. The good thing about the Saône is that its pretty gentle, even when it’s windy.
So out we cruised and sure enough there was a beautiful breeze.
We headed south towards Seurre. Last weekend in Seurre there was a massive Vide Grenier (literally ‘clear the attics’), an antique and/or garage or car boot sale. It sounds amazing but I’m sure the pontoons would have been full. We have been to Seurre a few times. It has a good boulangerie and whatever the equivalent of a $2 shop, filled to the rafters with all manner of useful items.
We headed down a deviation of the river, past a Roll On Roll Off port where commercial barges pick up cargo and head south to Marseille.
The wind picked up here considerably. Bliss. Then we arrived at the large river lock at Seurre. The light was red so we hung around, listening to channel 22, the channel for this lock. Eventually the lights went red and green, meaning the lock was being set and then just green so in we went, following a rental boat. It is 3.75m and very gentle.
We motored out and into Seurre. There was only one boat on the pontoons but within 20 mins another 5 boats pulled up. There will be a jet boat competition in Seurre this weekend so we want to be out of here early tomorrow.
Boats came and went all afternoon while we swam in the cool water. By 8.30pm there were seven boats moored on the pontoon, everyone enjoying the water and quietly watching the sunset. That is until up the river comes one of the 15m Le Boat hire boats, with seven Russians on board, all shouting instructions to each other, probably all thinking they were in charge. Amid the chaos they moored about a metre from us. They seemed quite nice although it was interesting to see the men were all well over 40 and the two bikini clad girls barely 20. Maybe they were daughters? Ah no, there was plenty of kissing going on. Anyway quite entertaining and they were surprised to be parked by New Zealanders. All was fine, it got dark, the temperatures still stiflingly hot. Then the power went off. Now this happened to us last time we were in Seurre and the problem is the large Le Boat boats have all the high tech bells and whistles including aircon and the Seurre power supply can’t handle it and blows a fufu valve (technical term), putting out everyone’s electricity. The German man two boats down obviously knew exactly what had happen and he gave the Russians the brief and then managed it reset the electricity. Yay, fans are back on. The Russians yelled to each other and us next door, “no problem, aircon no more, all finished”. Hurrah.
They then jumped back in their boat and presumably turned it back on again because we were all plunged back into darkness again.
Much waving of arms followed. But the power was off for good this time. Even the German man gave up and we all spent the night sweltering in our cabins. Sigh.
However next morning we were up early and out onto the river by 7.45am. When we paid our mooring fee yesterday (€15 for power we didn’t get. Again.) we were given a notice to say the river would be busy being set up for the boat racing so if you’re still there at 10.30 you’ll be staying. Yeah, no thanks. So we headed off before the stampede. The river is so beautiful at this time of the morning and after a month on the Canal de Bougogne where the locks are very frequent and don’t open til 9am, it’s a refreshing change. Plus the locks don’t close for lunch on the ‘big’ Saône and open from 6am to 9pm. There is commercial traffic which we must give way to but the locks are huge so it’s not usually a problem.
We arrived at the Escuelles lock about 75mins later but it was closed and the red light was on so we waited and soon the doors opened. We looked back and saw two boats quite a way behind but had to wait for them in the lock which absolutely fair enough. By 9.30 we were out again, only 30kms to Chalon-sur-Saône, our destination today. They have an awesome bricolage (DIY shop) and huge sports store as well as a hypermarché, all near the marina. And a market in the town on Sunday. It’s a big town, maybe it’s a city, with great architecture and bars and cafes. We spent two weeks here two years ago when Alan was laid up with a swollen foot. It’s much nicer without the need for doctors!
We finally arrived in Chalon sur Saône at 12.20, luckily there was room at the inn as the visitors pontoon fills up very quickly. It’s an expensive stay, €43 for two nights! It is handy though. We’ll leave Sunday and keep heading south. And hopefully staying cool!
St Jean de Losne to Seurre – 3 hrs, 15km, 1 lock
Seurre to Chalon sur Saône – 4.5 hours, 45kms, 1 lock