On the River Saone

Last mooring on the Canal du Centre, before going through a deep lock and onto the Soane River. We are connected to electricity, and fill up with water. Often, the electricity and water is free. As here at Fragnes.

Rob is anxious that we will go backwards on the river. Our diesel engine chugs along at around 6.5 km per hour top speed on the canals, and we will be going against the flow of the river – he is thinking that if the river is flowing 3 km per hour, then we will only move forward at around that speed too. So we ride to Chalon-sur-Saone, the last village where the Saone meets the canal du Centre. We are at the old bridge crossing the Saone , I am excited about being on the river and cant stop the smile on my face at the prospect of the freedom of being on such a vast expanse of water.

But Rob is the capitaine, and worries about the what ifs…the flow is minimal, you wouldnt think so looking at his face, but he is feeling relieved!

We leave early the next morning, and have to tie up before the lock as there is another barge coming up. I walk to the lock, and this is the view from the canal side of the lock looking out onto the entry from the canal onto the Saone river.

We’ve descended in the lock, close on 11 m down. Pretty scary looking at the gates behind knowing they are holding back a whole canal from falling on us. The gate in front of me is about to lift, huge chains needed to do this

And we’re on the river, proudly flying our flag – we take it down while travelling on the canals, as some of the bridges we travel through are so low.

Commercial boats aplenty on the Saone river, but no threat to us…

Glassy calm on the river, the wake trails next to us, and we speed along at around 7 km per hour much to our delight! Rob uses a system called Navigo which shows details of the route and our speed!

Beautiful to be on the river…

We walk into the village, and enjoy a beer at the pretty Cafe du Pont. The restaurant (which we’ve heard good reports about) next to the port is closed on Wednesdays. Its so hard in France to know what will be open and what will not.

We are aiming to moor at Saint Jean de Losne, but nowhere to tie up…(and its Bastille day, 14th July, where the whole of France celebrates with massive fireworks displays – the only town in the whole of France not to have faux dártifice is Saint Jean, as they were peeved by Napoleon imposing taxes on them in 1799, where they had had none before. Passing by the pretty town of Saint Jean..

So we move on and moor up on a floating pontoon at Auxonne. I ask a little boat (8m in length) to move up a couple of metres so 22 mm of Sojourn, can fit. In doing so, an irate Frenchman tells me my fortune, but reluctantly moves up. His wife is embarrassed even though he is not. (little boat with blue canvas stripes)

Sunset on the banks of the town, old and young gather for fireworks –

The bank is full, and hundreds stand on the bridge to also share in the fun of the evening….french military music blares from loudspeakers near a beer tent. Its festive, but orderly. The children cant contain their excitement but are reigned in by parents. The Fench dont really show smiles and laughter, perhaps its contained inside? I remember a French woman I met in Roanne saying that the French people complain a lot… about everything. Not understanding much of the language I cant comment.

On the dot of 11 p.m. 16 minutes of fireworks light up the river from the opposite bank- incredible display, and then its over and people walk home.

We’re off the next day, and squeeze into a mooring at Pontailler-sur-Saone. Guess who is also there!

Lunch – but first a cold beer.

I choose goats cheese on crusty baguette and salad.

After lunch we walk over the old bridge to stock up – petunia aromas waft past as we walk over the flower lined bridge.

Walking home over the bridge after shopping at a Marche – (supermarket like Spar) Rob carries a satchel on his back, and another bag of groceries while i take photos. What a gentleman!

The next morning I walk to the boulangerie to stock up on bread – There is already a queue and guess who is in front of me. Next year I will have more vocabulary and be able to answer back! People wait their turn patiently, greet each other.
Madame Celine gives her full attention to each customer.

Sadly its our last night on the river. Happily, tomorrow we enter the Canal Champagne et Bourgogne – looking forward to bubbles!

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