Sunday, 9 September 2018

Canal du Centre: Blanzy – Genelard – Paray-le-Monial.

29 August to 9 September 2018. 40 kilometers, 16 locks, 3 lifting bridges.

Friday 24 August – Blanzy to Genelard. 20 kilometers, 9 locks, 3 lifting bridges. 1 hours 45 minutes.

The morning was overcast and quite humid and as we were setting off it started to rain quite hard.

At the second lock just above Monteceau-les-Mines we had to wait for it to fill as a boat had just exited; the first lifting bridge, operated by a wellie-bedecked operator was in the process of being lifted as we approached so no delay there.

The first of the lifting bridges.

A wet bridge operator.

Ahead of us we could see a barge, Mercator, which had been the one which had exited the previous lock ahead of us, waiting at the third bridge. He went through, the bridge remained up, our bridge opened effectively cutting off the one side of the city from the other at this busy junction, and we scuttled through both as quickly as possible. The French are incredibly patient and well-mannered in this kind of thing!

A small canal-side restaurant.

Mercator was already in the next lock and before we could even begin discussing whether we could both fit in, the skipper pulled the cord and the lights turned against us. As we had ridden past the boat the previous day I guessed that they were over twenty meters long so two of us in a thirty eight meter long lock would have been uncomfortable and we would have opted to wait anyway but he might have been a bit more polite about it.

Lockies clearing a log from the lock door.

Scania powered barge - look closely at the wheelhouse.

The brick factory museum at Ciry-le-Noble.

Locking into Genelard.


With the wind really starting to pick up we were quite anxious to get safely tied up at Genelard but as we approached the penultimate lock we could see Mercator exiting and then the lights went out – lock lunchtime? So we tied up, one line to to a single bollard and another two to the Armco barrier (it was pretty breezy) and waited half an hour before the red light came on, the lock filled and we were on our way again arriving at Genelard with plenty of space available.

Stakes firmly banged in we sat out the wind (which eventually dropped toward evening) and watched the antics of the various boaters tying up, some most professionally, some most selfishly.

This is what happens when your plastic electric cord reel collapses.

A big fishing contest.

We celebrated Lynn’s birthday by taking quite a long ride through the countryside, ending at the Le Petite Chef restaurant in Palinges where we had contacted the owner who said that he would interrupt his leave and cook us a meal – perhaps a mistake as the veal was fast boiled and tough but the rest was quite acceptable; three courses plus 500ml of box wine and coffee for €12 per person is a bit silly really so gourmet cooking would never be the order of the day (and he threw in a Ricard and a Martini Rouge for free!). But it’s a fun place.

The Palinges church.

A cemetry on the outskirts, largely derelict for some reason.

Genelard is a difficult place from which to depart; quiet, basic facilities (but no charcuterie), clean, safe, some boating activity, and a big fishing competition on the Saturday to keep us even more amused. Our last day was spent painting (Lynn), bike oiling and water filling (Shaun) before we set off into town to attempt a proper birthday celebration for Foodie Lynn.

The school - at one time the scene of a battle between the Germans and the Resistance.

The much anticipated Sunday market - one goats milk cheese stall!

The vaguely chaotically burlesque l’F Commerce maison d’hotes (new phone number 0623071922) only caters to reservations and is not cheap for the ‘plat’ but at €20 per person it is not expensive either; the quality and creativity of the food was excellent and our slightly outrageous hostess was attentive without being treacly (the Rully and Sancerre wines which pushed up the bill a bit were also very good). Kinda ‘Gone-to-Heaven’ food and an experience which we highly recommend!

Our hostess...

Monday 3 September – Genelard to Paray-le-Monial. 20 kilometers, 7 locks. 3 hours 55 minutes.

On yet another stunning day we set off for Paray-le-Monial, the town which we had so enjoyed last year; arriving at the port was a bit of a shock to the system as the ‘pilgrim city’ had been demolished the week before and the town was strangely quiet. We alternated between the ‘pay’ port and the downstream, shaded mooring a move dictated by the weather.

Locking into Paray.

The halte Fluvial or 'upstream' mooring.

The downstream mooring.

With time on our hands we provisioned up at the big eLeclerq a few kilometres away, strolled through the town,

A local craft market held in the cathedral cloister.

A chandelier in the Town Hall.

We have no idea what this place is but it was behind closed gates.

The excellent Museum of Religious Art.

Glass droplets. Representing blood and tears?

Included in the museum was and exhibition by Genevieve Gallois.

sanded, varnished and generally kept busy at a slow pace.

The Friday market.

Paray is a hotbed of crime: I saw one vehicle jump an amber traffic light and another blatantly drive through a red light – the first two such extreme acts of criminality I have seen in France! Be afraid of Paray, very afraid!

On Saturday, South African flagged Juniper arrived with Durbanites Gary and Tosca aboard; we have met in Durban before so that evening tables and chairs were arranged on the quay and stories swopped.


The port is now full!

A ‘vide grenier’ (‘empty attic’ or attic sale) had been advertised for our last day here so that is what we did coming away with a €1.50 terracotta wine cooler, brand new.

And now it’s onwards and upwards (with a bit of downwards too) as we head inexorably for our winter port. 

Autumn cometh.