Wednesday 31 August
We were woken by a boat leaving port at 6am this morning. By 7.30 we were up, showered and ready to go. There is a handy fuel quay here in Mâcon’s Port de Plaisance so we decide to top up the tanks. However a Dutch yacht beat us to it but we were fuelled up and heading out by 8.20am. What a lovely morning.
It was cooler the day before, mid 20s, so we walked into the centre of Mâcon, 3 kms away. It’s a large and busy town of 63,000 residents and considered a ‘foodie’ capital. Also big in wine production, with 49 millions Mâconnais bottles a year, it is the biggest producer of white wine in Bourgogne. Due to budget requirements sadly we did not add to those sales figures this year. At least not while in Mâcon. Later we had a few glasses. Delicious.
Mâcon is old. I mean really old. In fact one of the oldest cities in France. It was already a major town under the tribe of the Eduens during the period of independent Gaul. Unfortunately it was badly damaged during the religious wars so, although over 2000 years old, there aren’t many relics left. St Pierre is a beautiful church, stunning inside.
We wandered up and down the gently winding streets and alleyways and stopped for a grande creme in the Place St Pierre. A very enjoyable few hours.
It was a bit of a slog in the hot sun walking back to the port but well worth the effort.
So next morning we were out on the Saône again, still heading south. We passed the commercial port and watched a long barge’s cargo being unloaded.
Later a 110m commercial came steaming up behind us and as we all know commercial traffic takes priority so we moved to starboard to allow him it pass. Actually it was a ‘she’ in control. She went into the Dracé lock, just squeezing in with the sides almost touching, and as the light was still green, we followed behind.
There were three gendarmes beside the lock who stopped to have a discussion with the Captaine and we thought they may come down and talk to us as we’ve heard they are doing boardings and document checking but they wandered by and gave us a wave.
Once out a large hotel boat passed us by and headed into the lock. Later on we saw another massive barge, filled to almost overflowing with logs of wood head downstream. Not many pleasure boats though.
We tied up at a small and free pontoon in Belleville. Power and water available too. There’s a lovely restaurant up on the waterfront so Alan decided he’d take me out for lunch. And what a lunch. Three courses plus coffee €13.50 each. And a small carafe of lovely Mâconnais vin blanc for another €4. What a bargain. And excellent food. The owner was interested in New Zealand, knew Auckland, Wellington and the All Blacks. Sadly he’d never heard of Christchurch. He has now!
We had a little promenade then back on board for un petit siesta. It was 30°. We swam off the back of the boat all afternoon to cool off. I have to say I loved Belleville. It’s a very small pontoon though and someone has parked up their boat and left, taking up 12m of space. Not really fair.
One night we awoke at 3.30am to hear a commercial boat passing, causing quite a bit of wake. The following night, at 1.30am, a 110m cruise liner pulled in right beside us, it’s back just feet away from our cabin. Looking out our cabin porthole all we could see were bright lights and hear the engine thudded away. I had that optical illusion that it seemed we were moving and they were standing still. All very bizarre and I found it hard to get back to sleep as their crew were tying up and putting down the walkway. An unusual experience!
After two days we motored down to Travoux. What a beautiful town with a Mediterranean feel. The river here is outstanding. Wide and tree lined. We have seen a lot of large cruise boats from Switzerland and Germany as well France down this way.
We swam off the boat to cool down. The temperature sat around 30°. The only downside to mooring in Travoux is the wake from speed boats and jet skis. The huge cruise boats aren’t too bad. They moor closer to the town while our pleasure boaters mooring is near the campground. We thought there might be a punch up at the mooring when one boat, who had obviously been doing some painting, pulled out to turn around and another boat, obviously spotting the space put his foot down and dove into the space, taking his spot. Fortunately they both just squeezed in. It’s a popular mooring and only fits 6-8 boats.
Moving on the next day we passed through the large lock just before Lyon and continued on through the city and out onto the Rhone river. What an amazing experience. Lyon is the third largest city in France and is famous for its architecture and food. The old part of the city is on the right bank but further along at the confluence of the Saône and the Rhone there are some amazing new buildings including the Musee de Confluence which we visited. Stunning inside and out, the collections are unusually curated. A must visit. The port de plaisance is nearby, right in the middle of an area of apartments bars restaurants and shops which is beautifully lit at night.
We will be here for a few days before heading back the way we came. I’m so glad we came down here, it’s amazing.
Lyon is so beautiful I’ll put up some more pics on my next blog.
Macon to Belleville 3.6 hrs, 28kms, 1 lock,
Belleville to Trevoux 2.6 hrs, 24 kms, 0 locks
Trevoux to Lyon 4.3 hrs, 31kms, 1 lock