Things didn’t start well. The weather was horrible, cold and wet, when our friends Debbie and Lloyd arrived on Saturday, September 17th, so we delayed our proposed trip up to Dole until Monday. Instead, on Sunday, they drove us to Château du Clos de Vougeot near Nuit-Saint-George, where in 1110 the monks of Citeaux Abbey started a domain that continued to produce wine until the end of WW2. It is very well restored and an interesting visit. Twice yearly they hold Le Tastevinage, when the jury made up of 250 ‘committed wine professionals’ gather in the Great Cellar to taste and answer these questions, “Does this wine reflect its appellation and vintage? Will it age well?” and “Would I be happy to offer a bottle to a friend?”. I know a few people who would like to join that committee!
We also drove to Domain Romanée Conti for a look at the tiny vineyard that produces one of the most expensive wine in the world. You can pay €10,000 a bottle in a restaurant. You can. I won’t.
On Monday the rain had stopped so we headed off up the river and onto the Canal du Rhône au Rhin, collecting our automatic lockdoor opener along the way. 9 locks later, having passed through the ‘Technologically Risky’ zone where a huge Solvay factory produces nasty chemicals like hydrochloric acid, bleach and all kinds of other lovely things (if a siren sounds you must hold your breath and get the hell out of there!), we arrived in stunning Dole.
We stopped at Dole for two nights. It’s such a beautiful town and one I waxed lyrically about (well, I like to think so) in 2014 so check out my earlier blog posts for the low down on Dole. We had dinner out one night and Lloyd cooked duck from the market the following night, along with a yummy cheesecake Debbie made for dessert. Delicious!
A few pics from a wander around Dole.
On Wednesday the weather was lovely, the sun was shining.
We moved on up the canal to Rochefort, just an hour and a half away. It’s a 2 boat mooring with no electricity available but the scenery is beautiful with cliffs on one side of the river and a weir on the other. We walked up the hill for an awesome view of the Doubs river and surrounding countryside. This spot is a real favourite of ours. We brought out the bbq and cooked up sausages for dinner and watched the stars come out before the chill forced us indoors. It is definitely Autumn!
Thursday September 22 dawned sunny but very chilly and the river was shrouded in mist.
Debbie and Lloyd rode our bikes back to Dole while we sailed back. I accidentally pushed the wrong button on our lock door remote control, causing the lock to set the wrong way, meaning I had to contact VNF to send a little man to fix it. Oops. He was an extremely cheerful man and we laughed gaily at my stupidity. He showed me how to fix the problem if it happened again and after a discussion about our on board herb garden we were on our way again.
We picked up our friends and the bikes at the lock in Dole and continued down towards the Saône river. The third to last lock, however, displayed two red lights meaning the lock was out of order. We nosed into the bank and staked up to wait. The VNF guy was clearing a lot of ‘herbes’ or weeds from around the lock gates, obviously blocking them. Eventually we were off again, dropped off our remote control at the last lock and headed back into the Saône and up to Auxonne.
Two nights in the Auxonne marina allowed us to peruse the Vendredi (Friday) market and Debbie and Lloyd to do some sightseeing. There is a military school here that Napoleon attended, apparently he was particularly good at maths! There was a market on but not a lot of produce. I guess it’s coming to the end of the season
We were adopted by a tiny ginger and white cat who made himself at home in the sun on the aft deck.
On our last morning we could hear him crying and along the pontoon he limped, soaked through having somehow fallen into the water. He had dragged himself up into the swim platform of a nearby boat and was drenched and shivering. Poor little guy. We wrapped him in a towel, dried him off and fed him. After he had finished some warm milk and had time in the sun we had to say au revoir and left him sitting on the pontoon watching us forlornly. If we lived in Europe full time he’d be coming with us but sadly we fly home to NZ in two weeks. Still feel horrible leaving him there, not knowing if he had a home to go to. 😪
We cruised back down the Saône to our home port, St Jean de Losne, and today we waved goodbye to Lloyd and Debbie as they headed back to Normandy. It was lovely having them on board and getting to share our adventures with them.
We will be packing up and heading back to NZ in two weeks so the countdown has begun! Lots to do. Maybe another little trip out if the weather holds. It has been amazing the last few days. Long may it last!
St Jean de Losne to Dole 5 hrs, 23 kms, 9 locks
Dole to Rochefort-sur-Nenon 1.6hrs, 7 kms, 2 locks
Rochefort-sur-Nenon to Auxonne 7.4 hrs, 39 kms, 12 locks
Auxonne to St Jean de Losne 1.6 hrs, 14 kms, 1 lock