From the Saone river to Dole

From the Canal du Centre, the 10metre lock at Chalon dropped us into the River Saone, Its different barging on the rivers, there’s a feeling of freedom and space, cooler breezes, all this makes up for fewer moorings.  On the rivers we can’t just pull up and wild moor, as we do many times on the canals..  The banks have thick vegetation, or the banks are difficult to step out onto, or the edges are so shallow we would risk being beached.  So our travels on the rivers take more careful planning.

On the river Saone, vegetation is thick on either bank of the river, interspersed by villages or towns on the river

We moored up on a floating pontoon just before the city of Dole, and did a couple of cycle rides.

Pontoon mooring , From the floating pontoon there is a little bridge onto land

There is never space for us to moor at St Jean de Losne, so we cycled there. This looks spectacular from the bridge, and there are some lovely restaurants and “bars” along the river,  but otherwise, like many towns and villages in France there seems to be a steady decline in the smaller places –  People, especially young people flocking to the cities.  The population in this town in 1968 was 1,600 and in 2008  1,200 people.  Hotel barges, and the hire boats and smaller boats also moor up along the steps, and so there is seldom space for bigger barges.

Bridge over the Saone river at St Jean de Losne

St Jean de Losne is a very popular winter port because from here its easy to access many waterways – the canal Rhine-Rhone, which is the canalised part of the Doubs river, the middle water way is the Petite Saone, or left into the Canal de Bourgogne.

We turned right into the Canal Rhine-Rhone which becomes the Doubs river  ( ponounced Do, the bs not audible,  but still there!)

Into the river from the Canal Rhone – Rhine

The highlight of this season for me was Dole, a city with around 25,000 people.  A hint of the splendour of the old buildings as we approach.  Dole was the capital of Franche-Comte until Louis XIV conquered it.  As punishment to the people of Dole for resisting his invasion, he moved the capital to Besancon.  (next blog)

Approaching the city of Dole

From the lock entering the city the port is visible under the bridge.  On the left is the waterway that this city, once the heart of the leather industry, used for tanning.

Lock into Dole

It is an amazing feeling to barge past ancient the ramparts, built to defend their city against invading enemies.

Entering the Port of Dole past the Ramparts of Dole

We moor up opposite the cruisers and hire boats, no electricity or water facilities,  but free.  Splendid view of the old Church and famous skyline.

Mooring at Dole

A brocante, a mixture of a boot sale and flea market,  across the road attracts us, selling anything from old clothes to interesting antiques.  Its fun to check out what is for sale.

Brocante in Dole

Dole is the  birth place of Louis Pasteur, and Dole commemorates their son  by naming streets, restaurants and cafes after him.  The museum is the house where Pasteur was born in 1822, and where his father carried out his tanning business.

Pasteur House where Louis was born and lived until 3 years old

Dole was the center of the leather industry in the 1800’s , and Pasteur’s father was a tanner.  He set up shop here in 1816.   The canal was important to wash, and cure the hides.  Heavy hard work.  The museum shows the tanning room, and how the family lived.

Louis Pasteur restaurant

Dole is charming,  flower filled streets, elegant buildings,  big enough to have a variety of shops but small enough to walk and explore comfortably.

Charming Dole

One morning walking through the streets we couldnt resist snapping this… time seems to have stood still.

Horse and cart to water city flowers and collect refuse

The remains of an ancient Roman bridge that spanned the river.  Now a popular walk spot, and “beach.”

Remains of ancient roman bridge
Remains of ancient roman bridge

There is an annual fete de la Musique on the 21 June throughout France.  On this Music day, every single instrument in France is supposed to be played.  We loved how young, old, amateurs and professionals played from early evening till late.

Fete de la Musique

The Fete de la Musique continues….

Fete de la Musique at night

The evenings from the boat were glorious.  We spent hours just sitting and enjoying the changing light of the sunsets.

Dole evening view
Sunset at Dole
Night view in Dole with the lit up church

We caught a train to the charming village of Arbois, where Louis Pasteur lived and worked.  Pasteur was trained as a chemist and his early work with fermentation led to his revolutionary idea that germs were everywhere in the air.  For centuries conventional wisdom believed that diseases appeared out of nowhere.  Despite his proof that disease is caused by contamination, it took years before surgeons were persuaded to wash their hands before operations or examining a patient, and before people carried out simple hygiene.

Arbois, House of Louis Pasteur
Arbois, where Louis Pasteur lived and worked.  One of the prettiest villages
At Arbois, the water is so clean that the pebbles are clearly visible on the river bed

And another train ride called les Hirondelles Ligne – the Swallows Line.  The train ride goes through 36 tunnels, and viaducts. The scenery is spectacular.

Les Hirondelle Ligne – the swallows Line through 36 tunnels and 18 viaducts

And these pictures just give a small insight into the beauty of Dole and the region of Franche Comte …..


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