Auxonne is a great spot for a few days. The Port Royale has very nice moorings but quite pricey. For us €14 per night. There is a large military presence here (Napoleon did his training here back in the day) which must help keep the town busy. There is a lovely big church and plenty of the usual shops.
We rode our bikes out along the Saône one day and when we came back to the boat we found there had been a fuel leak in the marina. The gendarmes in charge of such things came though and decided the marina needed to be closed off from the river to curtail the damage. They created a barrage/boom and for the next day and a half the Capitain of the port, John (an Aussie), motored his little boat up and down squirting (I’m guessing) detergent into the water to soak up the fuel.
It turns out one of the boats moored across from us had intended to top up his water but accidentally put his hose in the fuel tank instead! The water overflowed sending diesel out into the marina and on to the river. The couple had to front up to the police and explain themselves. It was an accident and so they weren’t fined, lucky for them although the thought of what they will need to do now to sort out their fuel tank doesn’t make them lucky at all.
By Thursday afternoon the water had cleared and the barrage came down and we left on Friday morning heading upstream and north along the Petit Saône.
There is only one lock between Auxonne and our next stop of Pontailler-sur-Saône and we shared it with a rental boat holding eight young German guys on a boys trip. They were very nice and were even wearing life jackets in the lock. Very responsible. They were also drinking beer at 10.30am but still. That could explain the life jackets though.
Two hours later we arrived in Pontailler-sur-Saône and tied up on the quay. There is no power or water but it’s a lovely shady spot and the town is very pretty. Good baguettes in the boulangerie too. The Vieille Saône (Old Saône) runs through the town.
We found an old renovated landing platform. The wooden quay can go up or down depending on the height of the river.
Alan continued his scrubbing and re-oiling the deck while I supervised. After a new coat of oil the teak looks great.
We stayed in Pontailler-sur-Saône for three nights using our generator to top up the electronics. On Saturday there was a market. Actually it wasn’t great, mainly the usual clothing stalls, but we did pick up some salad veges at one stand. Also available were rotisserie chickens and pizza. I chatted to the vege guy who warned us of a storm brewing on Monday (but it actually arrived early on Sunday evening).
We walked down to the local camping ground where there is a little beach and restaurant.
We were shaken about on the quay by the wake from some very annoying speed boats flooring it as they passed us but it’s a small price to pay for such a lovely setting. We mostly had the place to ourselves until Sunday when the quay filled up. A hilarious Englishman shouted profanities at the aforementioned speed boats and then came over to apologise. He said he always asks Kiwis if they’ve heard of Onga Onga (he has a family connection to the settlement) and no one ever had until he found out Alan knows the place (it’s in the wopwops of Hawkes Bay) which astounded this guy, even more so when fellow Kiwis John and Rosemary on Petronella pulled in and they knew it too. Small small world!
Later on we had some more fun when a french family lost their ball in the water and we tried to retrieve it off the side of the boat. We couldn’t reach it so one of the french guys stripped off to his undies and waded in to retrieve it. We handed him a towel to dry off which he was very grateful for having only the smart shirt and dress trousers he was wearing. It kept us amused.
We spotted a grey heron nest way up on the top of a tall tree on the other side of the river and spent the late afternoon watching mum feeding her four large chicks. Later on another storm hit with rolling thunder that rumbled continuously for an hour. The rain hit and the wind turned cold and strong but it all passed by fairly quickly. The forecast is all about storms at the moment. The VNF put out a météo alert for Monday night, expecting a violent storm with heavy rain, hail and squally winds!
On Monday 4 June we decided to move on up the Saône into the area called Haute-Saône having left the Côte d’Or behind. We left at 9am but by 9.30 one of the engine warning lights lit up and we shut the engine off and floated in the middle of the river until Alan topped up the coolant and we were good to go again. Never a dull moment.
Three hours later we stopped in Mantoche, a village with a good quay although the depth is marginal unless you tie up at the upstream end, which we did.
After buying a very ordinary baguette from the little épicerie (a depot de pain, meaning they don’t make it themselves and I’d guess it wasn’t from an artisanal boulangerie) and having had lunch we decided to carry on to Gray, only another hour away.
On arrival in Gray we were lucky enough to grab a spot on the town quay with free power and water! I see lots of washing in our immediate future. Might go all out and wash my hair (it’s long and takes ages to wash, using up precious water resources). There was even talk of Alan shaving!
It’s still the little things in life that give you the most enjoyment, isn’t it?
Stats for the week:
Auxonne to Pontailler-sur-Saône
Engine hours: 2.5
Pontailler-sur-Saône to Gray
Engine hours: 4
Year to Date:
Engine hours: 9