Sunday 3 July to Thursday 7 July
90 kilometres, 42 locks
Summer is with us at last!
Leg #1: La Cassine to Le Chesne – 11.5km, 2 locks. Another beautiful day and the short cruise to Le Chesne was a doddle.
|Tree killing mistletoe.|
|If you look carefully (or click to get a larger image) you will see the grey heron flying ahead of us.|
The electricity/water point on one side of the canal was not working so when Oso appeared later they moored up opposite us. A brocant (street market) was in full swing and Neville managed to buy a second hand bike for the princely sum of €15!
Later, we were joined by the spud pole boat which moored, without lines, in the only space available at the services-side wall where one can tie up (albeit to a railing) – if someone needing the facilities had arrived later the confrontation could have been interesting especially as there was a mooring wall (but with no bollards or railing) just 80 meters behind us.
|Elle on right, Oso left front, 'spudpole' left back.|
Leg #2: Le Chesny to Attigny – 16.5kms, 28 locks (of which 27 are in a 10km staircase). We set off in time to catch the lock opening time of 09h00 followed by Oso and ‘spudpole’ which made short shrift of overtaking Oso in true Dutch fashion. After a zillion phone calls we managed to get the lock working and spent the next 5 hours in the company of ‘spudpole’ who offered nary a greeting and who slowed our progress as the skippers partner was more interested in taking pictures and walking between the locks than helping out with lines. We were most relieved to find a spot at Attigny and an hour later were joined by Oso who took the last gap available. A pleasant free mooring with electricity and water. A long day!
|A lock in front of a lock.|
|Lovely clear water.|
Leg #3: Attigny to Rethel – 18.7kms, 4 locks. After the previous days efforts this was a really relaxing day in gorgeous weather and we were lucky to arrive just after another boat had left leaving us nearly in a prime spot near the ablution block and with an electricity and water point a couple of meters away.
The only downside was that we were also opposite a picnic table which was a magnet for youngsters but on the whole they were not too rowdy and left the place spotless – try and get a mooring on the town side of the ablution block as they are quieter. And the ablution block is not the best; clean toilet sans seat, cruddy shower and urinal into which I didn’t dare venture.
We stayed two nights in Rethel and it is a smallish but lovely town: Beautiful Mairie with a divine chacuterie opposite the back entrance, boulangeries, restaurants, a lovely church (closed unfortunately as it has an unusual double nave), a big, tree filled park and a big Intermarche on the south side of the river (opposite side to the town).
|The main road into town.|
|Entrance to Saint-Nicolas church.|
As an aside, the Fluviacarte says Rethel is the home of ”Boudin Blanc pudding” so, although the name ‘boudin blanc’ was ringing a vague bell in my head, I asked Lynn to try and get a pudding for our dessert that evening when she was buying bread at the boulangerie. Apparently the whole shop hushed to Lynn’s question and, while being explained to that the shop selling boudin blanc was not open that day, they continued to stare at Madame. For those who do not know, Boudin Blanc is a veal sausage and something definitely not sold in a bakery. And then I remembered that I had enjoyed one on a roll in Peruwelz last year….oops!
|The charcuterie - boudin blanc 'pudding' in front of the lady.|
Leg #4: Rethel to Berry-au-Bac – 42.6kms, 8 locks. Another beautiful, hot day taking us past pretty lockkeepers houses,
wheat filled fields,
very little commercial traffic (although peniche Rallye gave us quite a start as it appeared around a corner)
and finally, to a long grassy wall just before Ecluse #3 at Berry-au-Bac where we saw one of our neighbours from Rethel moored – and where we promptly got stuck in the mud three meters from the shore. With muddy water kicking up in all directions we managed to wiggle free and passed through the lock where there is a lovely ‘waiting’ mooring on which the lockkeeper gave us permission to overnight.
The town of Berry-au-Bac is a nonentity with a single main road, a good (apparently) restaurant (Restaurant de la Mairie) and a fascinating brocantiere (if there is such a word) hidden off the main road. It seemed to be a community of second hand goods collectors who had their small goods laid out on twenty or more trestle tables with antique furniture in a big shed. Fascinating!
|Restaurant de la Mairie|
And so ended the Canal de Ardennes