Chamouilley to Froncles and beyond

What a lovely spot Chamouilley is and it isn’t marked on the Navicarte as a place to stop.  The small village has all the essentials –  a bakers, a basic supermarket, a post office, a delicatessen selling all local produce, a restaurant and a hairdressers.  The community have spent money to ensure there is a port and places for the many motor homes that make the rounds to all corners of France. Water and electricity are supplied subject to a payment of €8 for the night, a small price to pay.
Also in its favour is its proximity to La Marne, were we all enjoyed a refreshing swim.
From Chamouilley it’s 20kms and several locks to Joinville.  We stopped in the Port de Vinaigrerie, which is about 500meters short of the town quay and €8 per night with water and electricity – whereas the town quay is free.  However, we preferred the little Port as it was part of a hotel and therefore quieter and safer. We decided to spend 2 nights and moved on to Froncles on Tuesday.
We had a fairly good run – it took us 5 hours to do 23kms and 9 locks.  The lock system is pretty good, with a remote control that is handed to you at the beginning of the canal and you press to go Montant (upwards) or Avalant (downwards) through the lock.  The light system shows that it has you and the lock sets in your direction.  When you have settled in the lock you press Bassinee to close the gates behind you and the sluices operate to fill or empty the lock as appropriate.  It works great, normally.
Having settled in Lock 38 at Villiers the gates fail to close.  We repeatedly pressed Bassinee to no avail.   Time to practice my French on the phone.  Amazingly he understood that we were in lock 38 going up and the gates had not closed.  J’arrive he said.  And he did, just 15 minutes later. Suddenly the gates closed and the sluices did their job to take us up to the next pound along the cut.
This is a very pretty part of this canal, as we climb higher into the hills.  There is so much land in France and so much is covered in forest – and this area seems to have got more than it’s fair share of both.
Our arrival in Froncles brought much activity when Frank demanded to know why all the motor homes had plugged into the electrical points supplied for the boats.  Our neighbours of last couple of nights, Tim and Sharon, quickly rearranged things to ensure we had power.  Perhaps it was to make certain our air conditioning was fully operational when they joined us for drinks later in the afternoon……….
In the meantime, the boys had a swim and very welcome cool down in the canal and Frank cycled off to find bread and chicken for dinner.  It’s a busy ol’ life, this barging lark.
We had a humdinger of a storm last night. Thunder, lightening and hailstone-filled rain.  We haven’t had rain for weeks and weeks and have got used to leaving all our windows wide open at night to help the heat of the day escape.  Therefore, 2am this morning saw me running round the boat closing windows and hatches like a woman possessed!  Still, it cleared the air and this morning it felt much fresher than usual.  We don’t particularly like the halte at Froncles so are moving on towards Chaumont with the hope we’ll be able to find a nice little spot in between.  This part of the Haute-Marne certainly lives up to its reputation of being scenic – it is beautiful up here.

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