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On our way – familiar sights and new adventures

It’s so much easier now that we are experienced bargees, we’re back into the slow life… traveling around 20 km a day, which takes us around 4 hours, depending on the number of locks and if we have to wait while the lock keeper has lunch.  Of course, lunch hour is sacred in France. It’s compulsory. The South Africans keep going on the canal until their destination is reached. Not the French barges. We pass la francaise moored and taking time to sit together, whether the capitaine and his wife, or The Whole family, partaking in all kinds of fromage and baguettes, avec un botteille du vin blanc.

A lockeepers cottage, pretty as a picture, but alas, many of the locks are now automated and the cottages abandoned.  Sad to see them falling to ruin.

The French countryside is a delight to see as we thrum along at around 6 km/hour , lush pastoral scenes, fields of wildflowers, swathes of poppies, creamy Charolais cows grazing contentedly, hillside villages, .  

Familiar places, crossing the Loire River over the aqueduct at Digoin before turning into the Canal du Centre.  Navigating narrow bridges, beautiful reflections.

Paray-le-Monial is a beautiful town and a favourite mooring.  The Basilica, an astonishing nearly 1000 year old church, is described as a “jewel of medieval art”, the “best preserved model of Cluniac architecture.”

This picture captures the contrast of old and new seamlessly melding.  A priest on his mobile in deep conversation.

Wild mooring along the way at Ciry-le-Noble.  No electricity or water facilities, but no street lights or hustle and bustle either. The wind howled that night through the great Plane trees

Another wild mooring in St Leger-sur-Dheune, on the Canal du Centre,  with the Dheune river running through the village. We need the passerelle to get off Sojourn

Our wild mooring in the distance on the outskirts of the village of St Léger-sur-Dheune

Shopping… we either walk to the nearest little supermarche, or if further away, we ride.  Either way, it’s a satchel full or two of shopping. Pretty French flower filled bridges.

And of course, fresh daily baguettes.. bought from the Artisinal Boulanger. Waiting in the queue for bread is fun.  Everybody relaxed and happy to chat while Madame Boulanger gives full attention to the client she is serving so that when it is your turn you also get the same undivided attention.  One chooses from a “Biblioteque” of bread, a library.. there’s a choice of baguettes with seeds, with corn, traditional, and plenty of others I have yet to find out about..

Another favourite mooring at the famous wine village of Santenay, where we ride from the canal into the village

We ride to the Chateau which was built by John the Good, and then lived in by Phillipe the Bold (Phillipe le Hardy) The sense of being immersed in history. The Chateau is now a winery.

The vineyards of Santenay, their wine is renowned worldwide.

Riding back through the village

The wine growers of the area.  

We’re moored in the village of Fragnes.  Celine the port captain comes to. Old time port fees, and tells us there is a market at a farm near the church.  This is one of my great treats – to buy farm fresh eggs, cheese, yoghurt, honey and jam.

Coming in to moor at Fragnes yesterday, pretty miserable weather for barging…

But happy to have electric so I can catch up on washing..Rob had phoned Celine from previous mooring (the port captain) to book a space.  He was Very Proud of the tape area cordoning off our mooring

This Saturday morning I walk past the community garden where a family are picking artichokes,  but I cant find the farm. I go to the Boulangerie, I know where this is, and of course I have to get my daily bread.  I ask in my best French where the open air market is. Madame Boulanger catches on and tells me it’s up the road, past the Cemetery and then it’s ferme.  Now I know that “ferme” means shut in France.

We come across “ferme”a lot.  Restaurants are “Ferme pour exceptionnel” reasons”, magasins (shops) are “ferme parce qu’en vacances”, (pronounced Pask on vaakaans, notice that holiday in French is always plural, there’s no such thing as A holiday….  I am confused about buying at aclosed farm, but off I walk…past the community garden

I walk further along past the church Cemetere…

And in the main road of the village I find the farm.. the chickens give me a clue. The light dawns.  A farm in French is “une Ferme”. I guess common sense differentiates shut from farm.

The farm house, and the shop to the right of the sign

Monsieur Fermier is cooking a couple of free range chickens on his home made rotisserie, while a satisfied customer leaves with his 2 dozen eggs- alor, this helps to find where to go

Inside I gather and buy creamy farm honey, and strawberry jam, also 2 dozen eggs,

Salads (lettuce) and lots of yoghurt (pronounced yahoot)

I walk back home, another satisfied customer, another lovely day in France… sigh…

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