We left Auxonne on Monday 20th August and made our way to St Jean de Losne. Both ports are run by a private company, H2O, but they couldn’t be more different. Auxonne is clean, well run, inviting and friendly. St Jean is none of the above, so we stayed on the public quay, which was lovely. It meant we were right on the river so we could watch boats heading up and down, and swim from Thirza whenever the mood took us.
We also got the scooter off so shopping was easy peasy. The two chandleries gave us the opportunity to get another couple of fenders and a few other bits and pieces we needed.
Tim and Sharon turned up on Tuesday and in the evening I had a lovely chat with my stepmum, Fran. Apparently my Dad took a nasty tumble a couple of weeks back but they didn’t want to worry me so didn’t say anything. I love it when you turn 50 but your parents still want to shield you from bad things, lol (love you two x). Fran sent me a picture and Dad looked like he’d done 10 rounds with Rocky Marciano but thankfully is otherwise ok!
Although we’d planned to stay a couple more days, on Wednesday morning we were woken at 6am by a fisherman with his radio on full blast right outside our bedroom window. After Frank politely explained that we were trying to sleep (you think??) we moved on to Suerre where we met Tim and Sharon again.
We played our first game of Pétanque up on the quay having bought a really good steel set and then had a lovely swim, as temperatures were hitting the mid 30s again.
It’s so nice when you keep meeting people and you’re not sure if you’ll see them again. Several times you say your goodbyes with well wishes for a safe onward journey then see them the next day or the day after.
After Suerre there are not too many more viable mooring opportunities before Chalon sur Saône and we hadn’t decided whether to go there or head straight into the Canal du Centre. En route we called my nephew Jack to wish him a happy birthday (I’m sure he appreciated our singing!) and in the end we pushed on to the port next to the Ile St Laurent (“the island”) in Chalon. We got a great berth on the long visitors pontoon with our stern towards the main river and had an uninterrupted view of the Rhone/Saône hotel boat quay so we could literally watch the world go by as they delivered passengers from all around the globe to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Chalon.
That night, after a storm whipped up from nowhere with ferocious winds, torrential rain, thunder and lightening (lasted all of 30 minutes!!) we headed to the food strip on the island and couldn’t resist the Indian restaurant. We had a lovely meal and would recommend the Taj Mahal to anyone visiting the area.
The following day Tim and Sharon arrived and we knew this really was the last time we’d see them as we were heading a couple of kms back up the Saône to the Canal du Centre and they are continuing down the Saône and Rhone to Port St Louis in the Mediterranean.
We walked over to Chalon for a look around then came back to the island to eat – this time at Via Roma for the best Italian food we’ve tasted for a very long time. We had a lovely conversation with the French family next to us – the daughter being especially pleased to have the chance to practice her English (which was excellent) – and then joined Tim and Sharon on their boat, Tartaruga, for a last drink and last goodbye…….for now. Hopefully our paths will cross again one day.
This morning (Saturday 25th) we had to leave at 7:30am because there is a weekend of motorboat racing up and down the Saône at Chalon so the river is closed to navigation from 8am. It’s quite something to have an alarm go off at silly o’clock (6:45) when you haven’t had to set one for a long time. I even pressed the snooze button for an extra 9 minutes before getting up!!
Having left the port we took our time getting to the cut leading to the first lock between the Saône and the Centre because these locks don’t open until 9am. We had breakfast then entered the lock after the portcullis type door raised up and up to reveal the cavernous lock interior. It is almost 11 meters deep and we are heading up, but with floating bollards it’s no hardship. For us, we just tie the middle cleat to the bollard and wait until the water brings us all up to the top. Perfik!!
We are delighted with the Canal du Centre so far. It’s exactly as we remember it with very beautiful scenery and loads of mooring opportunities all the way along the canal, even if you don’t want to go to a recognised halte. We are so looking forward to this final leg of our adventure this year, which will end with us being moored outside our little house in the Loire.