After the lovely setting of Scey-sur-Saône we meandered up the Petit Saône past Port-sur-Saône without stopping and continued on to Fourecourt. There is a small port here, very small, but they charge quite high, I thought. €15 with power and water. There is a capitainerie/restaurant but no other facilities and the moorings aren’t in good condition although perfectly safe. The village has a church, bien sûr, but it was locked up so no peeking inside.
The next morning we headed up to Corre, the end of the Saône, which at this point is tres petit, and start of the Canal des Vosges.
The scenery is mainly forests, lots of shade which is lovely as we have had lots of sunshine. The storms are gone. At least for now.
Corre has a supermarché and a boulangerie/tabac/lotto/grocery store. The visitors quay is really nice with shade. The marina is quite big and there is a restaurant that has a big ice-cream menu. Ask Alan!
We stayed in Corre for 2 nights and utilised the power and water (€12pn) to catch up on washing. The hot weather meant our sheets dried within half an hour of hanging them from the back deck.
At Corre we left the river behind and headed into the Canal des Vosges, still climbing in the locks heading upwards to the summit where there is a long stretch (11km) without locks until we met the staircase of 15 locks before the turnoff at Epinal.
At 8.45am we pulled in behind a British boat, both tied alongside to a vnf barge and waited for the lockeeper to arrive, which he eventually did (9.20am). He must have needed 2 espressos that morning. Generally the VNF who handle the waterways of France do an excellent job so we’ll forgive them a little delay. He gave us our telecommand, a remote control that works like a garage door opener, except it opens the locks. It works every well although we did have one issue. Our travelling companions very kindly waited for us in one lock, possibly too long as the green light went out and was replaced by double red lights, never a good sign. Sue on the other boat called VNF from the lock control box and a very cheerful man came out and reset the lock. No dramas!
We called it a day in Fontenoy-Le-Château, a very pretty town with a good quay run by a hireboat company. The Château (built 10th century and partial distraction in the Thirty Years War 1635) is in ruins now but the view from up on the hill is great and the mairie are working on the ruins to make them more stable. The town has a good boulangerie, epiciere, a tea shop (only open 2pm-6pm) and a pharmacy. There’s a school and very pretty flowers decorating the town. A very pleasant stay.
The next day after checking out the ‘market’ which consisted of one small fruit and vegetable stall, we headed out further along the canal, 19km to be precise, and 20 locks later we tied up on the side of the bank for the night, knackered after a lock every km. The spot we chose was lovely and quiet with plenty of shade.
Wednesday, 20th June, dawned a superb day, crystal clear blue sky and very warm. It was another big day, 18 km and 14 locks and we chose a beautiful wild mooring spot, coincidentally very close to Kiwi barge owners John and Rosemary Stoppard on their boat Petronella. We met them them the year we were looking for a boat in France and they invited us on board for a chat which was invaluable to us and they have been generous with their knowledge and time to lots of NZ boat owners in Europe. We had a lovely evening’s aperos with them on a gorgeous warm evening.
The next day we tackled the staircase of locks before the turnoff to Epinal. 14 locks of 3m depth each in 8kms but at least we had now reached the summit of the Vosges and were heading downhill, an easier process in the lock than climbing. It’s all automated once you start so it’s quite a quick process, about three and a half hours. We waved goodbye to Petronella as we turned off the Vosges canal and onto the embranchment to Epinal. This 3km offshoot can be shallow and in the past sometimes too shallow but we stayed in the middle and made it to the city without touching the bottom. Hurrah! There is a long quay with power and water alongside a pretty park but it was full so we grabbed a small pontoon on the roadside and settled down to an evening of listening to the music playing all around the town as it was the Festival of Music in France that night, the summer solstice.
The next morning we moved over to the park side when a boat left and are now intending to stay a week or so to fully enjoy this beautiful and historic city. Friday night there was a Bio market (organic to us), Saturday the Army set up early on the quay and hosted a marathon and today, Sunday, there is a large brocante (antique) market all day.
The spoils of the bio market
We spent yesterday walking up to the old fortified Château on the hill, exploring the old town and having a lovely lunch at the Brasserie du Commerce in the Place des Vosges with a look around the Basilique Saint-Maurice (11th-13th century) and a very informative visit to the Tourist Office. There are so many places we would like to visit in this region we may hire a car next week to make things easier.
Here are some of the sights from from Epinal.
That evening we had drinks with Bob and Philippa on Amigo and then at 10.30pm we walked back into the old town to see the Son et Lumière light and sound show on the old buildings in the square.
So that’s what we’ve been up to in the last week or so. The weather has turned cool with a very brisk breeze but I see the forecast is for another warm spell next week with temperatures hotting up to 30+. The canal water levels are questionable as always so we will keep an eye on those while we decide whether to leave the boat here in Epinal and take a car further into the mountains and hope the we can get out of this one way embranchement when the time comes!
Stats for this week:
Scey-sur-Saône to Fouchécourt
Engine hours: 3.5
Fouchécourt to Corre
Engine hours: 3.3
Corre to Fontenoy-Le-Château
Engine hours: 6
Lifting bridges: 1
Fontenoy-le-Château to Wild mooring c.PK106
Engine hours: 5.7
Swing bridges: 1
c.PK106 to c.PK 88
Engine hours: 5.5
c.PK88 to Epinal
Engine hours: 3.8
Total this year so far:
Engine hours: 46.3
Lifting/swing bridges 2