Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Vermenton Embranchement & Canal du Nivernais: Vermenton to Auxerre – Closing Cruise

Tuesday 26 September 2017. 21 kilometers, 13 locks, 8 hours.

Going 'downhill' is always relaxing and for the first part down the Embranchment we had it all to ourselves

Vermenton Embranchement

Crevant port - not a great mooring wall.

and then just after Crevant we joined up with an Australian crewed Le Boat, one of the newer ‘Vision’ models which I had read have problems with the electronics. And sure enough, approaching a lock, the boat suddenly did a right angled turn and went into full forward and then into full reverse until they hit the bank where they managed to turn off the electrics. This happened once again before we left then just before Escolives-Sainte-Camille and must have been very scary for a person who had never driven a boat and who was on his second day out but he handled the situation very well indeed.

The Vision is on the right and five minutes later it  did the 90 degree turn.

At Vaux we were joined by the tourist boat Hirondelle 2 and locked through with them to Auxerre

Sharing a lock with Hirondelle

where we tied up on the wall for the night and sat out the rain until morning when we moved across to the Aquarelle marina where Elle will spend the winter. We have decided against going on the hard and will brest up - after a discussion with port manager Mike about security we are satisfied that no harm will come to Elle over the winter months.

Taking a break.

With final winterising done on the Thursday we moved our luggage over to the nearby Ibis hotel where we had booked a room for our final night and then wandered over the bridge ending up for sundowners at the restaurant Le Quai which is opposite our wall-side mooring place;

Elle from Le Quai

by six o’clock we were starving and as I had not yet managed a ‘Boeuf Bourguignon’ meal on this trip, we ordered for service as soon as the restaurant opened at six thirty. And what a delight it was! A huge portion of absolutely delicious (a tad salty however), rich, dark Burgundy stew accompanied by a couple of glasses of very good Irancy red really made for a fitting foodie end to our 2017 summer cruise.

The Irancy red was on its way.

Friday morning we went exploring Auxerre and Lynn has revised her opinion of the town – we now both agree that it is beautiful, interesting, buzzy and well worth spending a good few days in.

The military hospital.

The Abbey of Saint-Germain now home to the city's museum.

The Cathedral of St Etienne

Stunning stone masonry.

Some of the finest stained glass windows in France.

Our hotel room with a view.

Then it was off to the station for the three hour (which turned out to be five hours because our TGV fast train broke down and we had to catch an all-stations SNCF slow coach) ride to Paris and then half an hour to Charles De Gaulle and finally the eighteen hour Emirates experience to Durban.

Season summary: Over 151 days we traveled 1,220 kilometers, locked through 504 locks, two lifting basins, passed through 11 tunnels, and operated 4 lifting bridges. Water usage was about 10,000 liters and we used 950 liters of fuel doing 236 engine hours at 4 liters per hour (two liters per hour per engine) or 1.28 kilometers per liter.

We also consumed some wine…

Roll on 2018!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Canal du Nivernais & Vermenton Embranchement: Auxerre to Vermenton.

Tuesday 19 & Wednesday 20 September 2017. Auxerre to Vincelles – 14 kilometers, 8 locks.

A knock on the window heralded the arrival of Zoë from the France-Fluvial/France Afloat base in Vermenton where we had arranged to overwinter, with the tidings that the canal was being drained in November and that they would have to move Elle after she had been winterized, something we did not want to happen at all. The long and the short of it is that we will now be overwintering in Auxerre – we just hope the security is up to spec.

Deciding to get a jump start on the mob aiming for the crêperie at Vincelles we moved upstream a kilometre and moored for the night just above the lock above Auxerre

and started for Vincelles in thick fog, early the next morning.

It cleared up beautifully later - the end of the rain and wind at last!

There was ample space for us against the wall and the rest of the day was spent chatting to other boaters.

The main reason for returning to Vincelles was that we had booked a meal at a restaurant in nearby Irancy which had been recommended by the mate on Randle so in glorious weather we eBiked the three kilometres to the restaurant Le Soufflot where we enjoyed some fine cuisine. And Irancy is a really delightful French village and the center of fine pinot-noir wines bearing the same regional name – and the equally famous Chablis is just next door.

Locked unfortunately.

The restaurant is where the pink doors are.


Fine wining and dining - we had the house wine accompaniment.

Pretty Irancy

Back on board we were joined by hotel barges Art de Vivre and Luciole and, as evening approached, a duo set up and we were entertained by delightful music which we enjoyed over a glass of wine (or two) aboard a hire boat with its French-speaking Swiss hirers. And the music lullabied us to sleep.

Not all our meals consist of fine dining. Spanish boquerones from
Darrell and Tess - delicious! 

Friday 22 September. Vincelles to Vermenton – 10 kilometers, 5 locks, 2 hours 35 minutes.

Despite the change in overwintering plans we decided to head up the Vermenton Embranchement and visit the small town of Accolay which had been recommended, and to see what the Vermenton base was like as we might be back there next year. Maybe not such a good idea – the setting at the France-Fluvial/France Afloat base in Vermenton is stunning and we are now really sorry that we would be leaving Elle to the possible issues related to being in a big town like Auxerre but Vermenton is very much on the radar for 2018.

Our Vermenton mooring view.

A bike ride to Accolay resulted in lunch at Hostellerie de la Fontaine which had been recommended above the restaurant in Vermenton and which was excellent but both towns are cute with, in our opinion, Vermenton taking first prize for amenities especially as the big Atac supermarket has attached washing and drying machines.

Vermenton main street.

Our Accolay restaurant.

But our time was mainly spent starting the winterising process; fixing a leak in the bathroom extractor fan, cleaning the shower plumbing, removing the bimini, cleaning the die-hard Weber braai, washing bed linen, test-packing suitcases and generally dreading leaving our cruising lifestyle.

Cleaned extractor fan cover.

Makeshift bimini


Visited by the wooden fence boat.

We did however take a ride to Cravant which is a two thousand year old Gallic town which has been very tastefully restored and which is very picturesque. It also has an interesting Scottish/English history

The 'city' gate.

Good coffee at this cafe.

A very old vine.

The wash-house, 'keep'/tower and church (11thC tower for sale, church closed this morning)

Advertisement for Vermenton pottery.

Vermenton church door arch - 12thC?

Vive la France.

Tomorrow we head back to Auxerre, do the last bit of winterizing, lift out on Thursday, book into the local Ibis and train to Charles de Gaulle on Friday.