Foulain to the Summit and Beyond

Our stop after Foulain was just as nice – Rolampont provided space for 2 boats outside the main village with electric and water for free. It was a perfect spot for the boys as they had the freedom to be off the lead and roam at liberty. That was until Brody spotted the cows in the field behind us and started barking like crazy. Cows are wonderful animals. Instead of being spooked and running away they came closer to inspect this tiny creature that was making all the racket – which made Brody bark even more until Bosun joined in. Daft dogs – they briefly lost their freedom until the cows lost their interest and headed over the hill to the other side of their field.

We moved on to the lovely fortified town of Langres the following day: and stayed for 2 nights. Again, free electricity and water but the electric was only available between 07:00 and 08:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 – 1900 and 20:00. Pretty useless really so we didn’t use it – didn’t need to. I put the generator on to bring the washing up to date and due to the fair weather it was all washed, dried and back in the wardrobe by midday.

We got the scooter off and visited Langres, way up on the very top of the Plateau de Langres and looked out over the panoramic views back the way we had come, over the Lac de Liez and towards the dreaded 4820m tunnel. The lake looked inviting so we headed over for a wonderful, refreshing swim. It was sooooo nice! And followed by a glass of wine in one for the lakeside bars………ok, the only lakeside bar!

The tunnel approach is very spooky – the canal narrows down to the width of the tunnel walls, 8m, and the trees on the steep slopes close in on the cutting. It is a one-way system and you definitely don’t ignore a red light but we pressed our remote control and were almost instantly rewarded with a green light to continue. There are 10-meter markers the entire length of the tunnel so you always know exactly where you are in the event of an emergency. The tunnel lights up automatically as you enter and it is 1.5kms before you can start to see the pinprick of light at the other end. As you complete each 500m section the lights turn out behind you and you can look back at the disappearing light of the tunnel entrance.

Thankfully, we passed through without a hitch, although we were cold by the time we emerged back into the sunlight. It is a relief to have the last tunnel of the journey behind us as we enter the next staircase of 8 locks that mark our arrival at the descent to the Soane. Just 43 locks and 64kms to go before we re-enter civilization.

We had been told by fellow boaters that there were very few stopping places after the tunnel. We thought they were exaggerating – they weren’t! We ended up just spending 3 more nights on Le Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne. All on our own and all in beautiful settings: Villegusien-le-Lac, a wild mooring on the canal bank; Cusey, a very nicely kept quay that was empty except for us; and the most beautiful of all, Oisilly. Having passed the point where the book told us the halte at Oisilly was situated we had given up hope of finding somewhere decent to stop when a small concrete quay with 2 large concrete bollards came into view, situated perfectly in the countryside with fields full of horses either side of the canal. It was a long way off the main road and apart from a man who came to tend his horses on the opposite canal bank during the evening we didn’t see another soul. It was magical. When night fell the sky was crystal clear and full of stars. With no artificial light to spoil things it reminded us of Diou.

So, today we are set to leave the canal and enter the River. We’re not sure exactly where we’ll stop tonight but hopefully we will be in the lovely clean flowing water of the River Soane and we’ll all be able to swim and have some fun. We’ll also be able to re-stock the boat as we haven’t even found a boulongerie on this side of the tunnel…..not one single village has one. I thought that was illegal in France!!! Fortunately, with a good-sized fridge and freezer on board we could go another 3-4 days without a shop if necessary. Especially as I found ½ a bottle of whiskey in the back of the cupboard yesterday – just as I thought things were getting desperate!

We haven’t downloaded our pictures from the camera for a good few days having been constantly on the move but I’ll get some pics up when we are settled and no doubt the boys will have a tail or 2 to tell.

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