Friday, 21 July 2017

Canal du Centre: Chalon-sur-Saône to Fragnes and on up the canal to Dennevy

Wednesday 19 July 2017. Exploring Chalon.

On another very warm day we eBiked our way back to Chalon and locked the bikes outside the huge doors of the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent de Chalon-sur-Saône, parts of which date back to the 8th Century, and took a look inside – yet another awesome edifice!

An early 16thC tapestry.

Then we wandered through the old town passing hordes of busker-types setting up, practicing or simply chatting– there is apparently a music/comedy festival on at the moment

Very clever!

– before reaching the market where fresh produce provisions were purchased.

The baker at work.

And where I remembered that I had left the GPS, unlocked, on my bike at the cathedral so an anxious fast walk back to the main square brought much relief as the bikes, mit GPS intact, came into view. At home I doubt that the thing would have lasted five minutes.

Chalon is a place well worth exploring and next time we might consider staying in the big marina so that we can enjoy some of the night life.

Another church.

Stopping off on our way home at the large E.Leclerq supermarket to fill our backpacks took us back into Franges the ‘normal’ way revealing that there is virtually nothing to the small village other than the lovely port – the restaurant adjacent to the port must be good as it was pretty full both lunchtimes.

Our lunch.

Aerobic classes at the port.

We had the chef of the luxury hotel boat Fleur De Lys over for a drink that evening which was interesting.

Thursday 20 July 2017. Fragnes to Dennevy – 22 kilometers, 13 locks, 6 hours.

The delightful, young lady captaine at Fragnes warned us that the two big hotel boats were leaving at 08h30 to go to Chagny

Fleur de Lys - one of the luxury hotel boats.

and that they moved very slowly through the locks so we decided to give them a two hour head start before we departed and so at just after ten thirty we cast off and a glance behind realized our worst fears – a little Locaboat peniche hove into sight and we could only pray that it was skippered by one of the excellent German or Swiss hirers. But no such luck! Mr & Mrs Brit and their four young children bounced into the lock behind us before eventually tying up, something which took quite a bit of time despite it being a very shallow lock with bollards in easy reach.

Some four very slow locks later, with peniche almost glued to our stern, we turned a corner to find a lock with a Piper barge descending so it was brakes on and a look astern revealed that the peniche crew were looking everywhere but forward and after hooting and shouting they eventually woke up and narrowly avoided driving into us. We reversed back past them and waited around the corner for the downstream boat to pass – in passing Lynn mentioned to them that perhaps they should think better of following us so closely. This time they decided to be first into the lock, one with a five meter rise with floating bollards and, like all the locks we have experienced on the Canal du Centre so far, with the operating mechanism right at the very front of the lock. So in they go, lines ready to tie up on their port side – but the operating mechanism is on the right so we hoot and shout and eventually they get the message and make fast to the bollard on their right and wait. And wait. So Lynn explains that the lock does not work by itself and that they have to pull the activating cord to get things going – obviously they had not read the handbook given to them when they took delivery of the boat. So, with Dad holding the line, Mom moves the boat forward to the control and Daughter #1 pulls the cord. But she simply does not have sufficient strength so Lynn tells Dad to give Daughter his line and tells him to pull the thing and eventually the doors close and we can get going again. And so we slowly make our way through another four locks at a dreadfully slow pace until we decide to overtake them once more and to activate the lock as soon as they were inside, tied up or not, which speeded things up a bit.

Imponderabilia - an odd name for a boat!

That is our nemesis peniche in the background.

Between lock 23 and 24 there is an eleven kilometre gap so we made haste, losing the peniche which slowed right down to make it through various small gaps and past passing boats around Chagny, until we came to lock 23 where a boat was exiting – perfect! And then inexplicably the lights turned red, the lock filled, another boat entered, the lock emptied, the boat exited and we entered…with the peniche in tow! Two locks later we stopped at a scruffy mooring for the night, letting the peniche complete the last two locks to St Leger-sur-Dheune on its own.

Amazing graffitti.

But the braaied Cuisses de Carter were delicious!


  1. You out ran a hire boat! Wow they must be timid.

    1. They were somewhat timid and stuck to our stern like glue but they struggled through the 'narrowings' around Chagny which is where we lost them until the lock mis-timing.

  2. Oh, and a lovely, varied collection of photos.