Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Canal du Centre: Santenay – St Léger-sur-Dheune – St Julian-sur-Dheune – Montchanin – Blanzy.

24 August to 28 August 2018. 36 kilometers, 30 locks.

Friday 24 August – Santenay to St Léger-sur-Dheune. 9 kilometers, 4 locks, 1 hours 45 minutes.

Leaving the beautifully restored, Swiss registered barge Vrijheid behind at the Santenay mooring

we set off upstream towards St Léger – disappointingly, the restaurant where we had so enjoyed a meal last year, had changed hands and the subsequent reviews were not complimentary at all. We had to find a new shower pump however and were hoping that one could be sourced at the Locaboat base in the town so we decided on an overnight stop there anyway.

More pretty canal-way finally ended

as we arrived and moored up behind Nounou who were topping up with water before taking their leave; unfortunately, what we remembered as being free, un-serviced mooring from last year has had facilities installed and is now a pay-mooring so we moved back to the quayside proper, right next to the capitainerie but a safe distance from the demarcated hotel boat turning circle.

The base did not have a pump (nor do they sell diesel) and neither did the camping store which we rode to so, in consultation with Ian-in-the-Azores, we cobbled together a set of adapters and fitted a bilge pump into the shower drain and we can shower again without having wires and pieces of hosepipe all over the galley. And we also managed to get another old shower-pump, which had been lying in the bilges since we bought Elle, working.

Saturday 25 August – St Léger-sur-Dheune to St Julian-sur-Dheune. 11 kilometers, 10 locks, 2 hours 55 minutes.

Last year we had marked the mooring at St Julien as being “Lovely” and most pleasant it was albeit with no services.

On a much cooler day and, after chugging through rural landscapes and a couple of quite boisterous locks, we arrived to find there is not much to the small town of St Julian but the little restaurant seemed to be doing a bustling trade; not surprising as the hotel, auberge and bistro in nearby Ecuisses were all ‘en conge annuel’ (how do you close an auberge and a hotel during the holiday season?) – a pity as we had promised ourselves a meal at the bistro on our return to Ecuisses.

Apples but stung to bits.

The road to Ecuisses.

A late lunch and an early bedtime were in order.

Finesse is very photogenic..

Sunday 26 August - St Julian-sur-Dheune to Montchanin. 4.5 kilometers, 8 locks, 2 hours 25 minutes.

With a firstlight temperature of 7C and with lots of mist around,

we decided that we would not spend another night in St Julian but rather get over the last of the ‘uphill’ locks. Lynn managed to stop the roving lockkeeper in his car while trying to get through to ‘lock control’ on the phone (Tip: Get the roving lockies’ contact numbers wherever possible in case you need to make a change of plan) and he agreed that we could be on our way as soon as we were ready.

In last year’s blog comment was made of how tiring this stretch of locks is but this year they seemed worse than we remembered and we summited with much relief,

Summitting at last!

The Canal du Centre was built to connect the Saone and the Loire.

mooring outside the VNF offices – not very attractive but very functional - no water or electricity though.

Our across-canal campers.

A hard life indeed.

The day had morphed into a thing of beauty so Lynn decided to paint part of our front coachroof which had been prepped weeks ago but which she had been unable to finish due to the high daytime temperatures.

Montchanin was established in the mid eighteen eighties as a coal mining town and from Google earth looks a bit industrial so we opted out of taking the busy road into town and instead whiled away the afternoon reading.

Monday 27 August – Montchanin to Blanzy. 9 kilometers, 7 locks, 2 hours 25 minutes.

Once again we had arranged for a nine o’clock lock through but on arrival at the lock the doors were closed, the lock was empty, there were no lights showing, and there was no lockkeeper. So we turned around intending to ask about the situation at the VNF offices; as we arrived at our recently vacated mooring a VNF car pulled up and the girl asked if we wanted to use the lock in the opposite direction. “Oui, madame, Merci”, so we turned around again and from then on everything went smoothly – bliss to be going ‘downhill’ again!

The 'port' at Montchanin.

A memorial to French Resistance fighters killed in 1944.

The quay at Blanzy was deserted apart from two very dilapidated long-stayers, one deserted and one, a filthy wreck, with a person living on board.

Can afford to drink beer but...

Bikes off and down to the quayside E Leclerq we trundled to buy engine and gearbox oil and some wine, returning to Elle for a braai. 

Tuesday is market day in nearby Montceau-les-Mines where we had decided not to moor up but instead to cycle to from Blanzy. The market was not as busy as we remembered but a couple of cheap golf shirts were again purchased (same seller, same make and same price as last year) as were some fresh vegetables.

The unusual St Georges cross ensign.

After morning coffee at a café-on-the-square

Ten o'clock - coffee time. She on left, he on right.

we strolled through the single shopping street,

buying some interesting and very cheap goodies at the ‘Chinese shop’ before cycling back to a lovely pan fried fillet with mushroom sauce and vegetables late lunch.

I had picked up a bit of a twenty-four hour bug so we decided to chill aboard in the beautiful but once again, very warm, weather.

So cool - cyclists chatting outside our window. No hassle!

Water replenishment time.