Thursday, 9 August 2018

The River Saône: Tournus - Pont-de-Vaux – Crêches-sur-Saône – Bellville – Trévaux – Lyon.

2 August to 9 August 2018.

117 kilometers, 4 locks.

Thursday 2 August – Tournus to Pont-de-Vaux. 18 kilometers, 1 lock, 2 hours 30 minutes.

Flamingos are definitely 'in' this season.

At an unusually ‘late’ hour we drag ourselves off the pontoon at Tournus and head south, past the inveigling mouth of the Seille river after which we are on new-to-us waters, until we reach the turnoff to the Canal de Pont de Vaux

Water levels seem low judged by the paintwork on the channel marker.

where Lynn jumps onto the quay, activates the lock mechanism and I make a total hash of lock entry, ending up beam on to the gates in a slow, current induced spin. All ended well with no bumps or scratches and we were soon on our way up the pretty little embranchement.

Arriving at the unexpectedly large port with bustling dredging underway

The two barges which were carting away the dredging matter.

we see a lot of visitor boats moored stern on – not our favourite as we have to remove the flag and clamber over a bicycle to get ashore – and two apparent long-stayers moored side on with an Elle sized space between them, beckoning.

Fairhaven owned by friends of Ian and Lisette


A short walk through the town in the steaming heat saw us leave the small Casino with some of the best cuisses de poulet we have found in France (but then again, this is Bresse country and the non-Bresse chickens have to put up a class act to keep up appearances) but, unfortunately, with no air conditioner or fan. It is too hot to even contemplate sitting at a pavement café so back on board we enjoy a late braai interspersed with many showers.

Friday 3 August – Pont-de-Vaux to Crêches-sur-Saône. 27 kilometers, 1 lock, 3 hours 30 minutes.

The next morning at seven thirty we are on the move again, cruising slowly downstream to meet the eight o’clock lock opening time.

Exiting, we see a fisherman with a tightly bended rod so we drift toward him to watch the fight causing some concern as he thought that we had not seen him and were on a collision course. All ended well and we were soon on our way south

through the city of Mâcon

Fairhaven anchored on the outskirts of Macon.

We will visit on our return trip.

with its cruise ships and restaurant-lined quays until we tie up on the pontoon at Crêches-sur-Saône with the stern into the stream and, most importantly, into the breeze which funnels down our stern facing hatches into the very warm interior.

Creches mooring.

The restaurant in the background.

Tented for de-bugging?

There appear to be no shops in Crêches but the quayside restaurant was very well patronised to the extent that we had a French family breast up to us for an hour or so, so that they could enjoy a meal before disappearing downstream.

That evening a folk-rock band struck up with a male lead singer doing a pretty good job; unfortunately, whatever was sustaining them during the night did nothing for their singing abilities and we were kept awake to the most horrendous renditions of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, ‘Purple Haze’ and the like, screeched out by a lady vocalist (with tonsillitis?).

The town? Unfortunately the gates exiting the port were locked at the time of the morning walk.

Saturday 4 August - Crêches-sur-Saône to Belleville-sur-Saône. 17,5 kilometers, 1 lock, 2 hours 40 minutes.

Our next stop was supposed to be Montmerle-sur-Saône but the need for internal cooling was becoming all-important as temperatures continued into the mid-thirties with relative humidity levels in the low twenties making for baking, dry conditions and, with Mr Google showing that the town of Belleville was well endowed with large supermarkets, we decided to spend a night there and, come hell or high water, find some form of cooling for the boat.

Who is following whom?

Van Gogh exiting the Couzon lock as we are entering.

All this water going down the drain just for us!
Pulling up alongside a deserted, scruffy long-stayer, it was bikes off for the sixteen hundred meter ride to the commercial centre but we first did a detour through the bustling little town with its restaurant lined main road to the tourist information office where we availed ourselves of maps and directions.

Our next stop was a huge Carrefour Market which, most oddly, did not have any fans let alone air conditioners. Next stop was an equally large Intermarche and despite walking the many well stocked aisles, we could not find and sign of any kind of cooling device at all. Was dementia setting in? Had we imagined that these shops stocked these items? So it was over to the massive Mr Bricolage where we enjoined another couple staring in vain at the space where the air conditioners should have been.


Lynn, taking the initiative, pins down one of the employees who, after declaring that the air conditioners have all sold out, proudly escorts us to a gondola-end display where sits a demo-model, no name brand, fan which he demonstrates and, before anyone else can nick it, we capture the last ventilateur in France. Yay!

Belleville is a town worth a re-visit albeit the small pontoon has been appropriated by the sole, tatty cruiser and a couple of ski-boats, the owners of which are obviously too lazy to trailer them away or too impecunious to join the nearby ski-boat club and leave them there - the upshot is that mooring space is severely limited.

With a dual sprinkler system operative and our precious fan working flat out, we have at least some reprise from the heat.

Mr Mister.

Go Gardena!

Sunday 5 August - Belleville-sur-Saône to Trévoux. 24 kilometers, 0 locks.

Leaving the Belleville mooring: Anchored cruiser on left, long stay ski-boat next, our 'breast' friend next,
another short stayer, a place just vacated and previously filled by the ski-boat at the end.

France Afloat.

This Willy Wanker just had to pass us, first trying on the wrong side and then, seeing the small fishing boat in its way,
swerving to our stern portside sending the glasses in our cupboard sliding and clattering. No breakages.

We have been reliably informed (thanks Rory) that Trévoux is the place to overnight and to make contact with the port captain at Lyon to reserve a place so we duly arrive at the spotless, long pontoon with free services situated a short walk from the town centre.

And what a pretty town too! Once the home of silversmiths and then, during the industrial revolution, a centre for fine wire manufacture, Trévoux is an artsy commune with many small galleries, a good sprinkling of eateries, and superb views over the Saône valley.

A small artists market.

The clock-tower - the paid operator was housed on the first floor. 

That's us down on the right.

Looking towards the hospital.

One of the hotel boats arrived after ten.

Monday 6 August – Trévoux to Lyon. 30 kilometres, 1 lock, 4 hours 30 minutes.

This is very pretty cruising country with craggy hills lining the river and a number of small towns to keep the interest high.

Yacht Club St Germain.



Port d'Albigny.

The view over the barrage from the lock.

Replacing a channel marker.

Island of Barbe.

Roy Island.

An old lock.

And the passage through Lyon to the port (which is close to the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers) is fabulous, beating the southerly approach into Paris by a country mile.


With its ancient history, the city on its island separating the Rhône and Saône, grew into an important silk weaving centre and the contrasting architectures of medieval, empire, art deco and modern sit comfortably together.

Passages built to protect the silk
from inclement weather.

The Cathedral of St Jean.

The astronomical clock.

Fountain by Bartholdi.

The Hotel de Ville.

Midday on the Place des Terreaux.

The University of Lyon.

The Flower Tree.

A silk weaving workshop - for tourists.

The 'la Place Nautique' is situated in the urban renewal project called The Confluence and the city planners have done a fine effort indeed.

Our meal at the small Italian restaurant in the port. Lynn declared the risotto "Absolutely divine!".

The 2,5 hectare, plastic cushion roofed Confluence shopping centre.
The huge Carrefour inside was devoid of fans or air conditioners...

On our second day in port we were invited aboard Fairhaven which was moored against the wall in the middle of the city – a most pleasant evening and thank you for your kind hospitality Peter and Debs.

Our hosts.

A highlight of our visit was an audio guided tour of the Fine Arts Museum; the layout of the pieces seemed a bit disjointed and the authorities should really make an effort to hose down the steps to the entrance which are obviously being used as a urinal by hobos. But otherwise, the exhibits were mind-blowing.

The museum courtyard

Art deco bedroom.

Lots of Dutch and Belgian Masters - this by PP Rubens.




Not forgetting Pablo.

Unfortunately the afternoon heat precluded us from seeing more and we especially missed out on visiting the Fourvière Basilica high on the hills overlooking the city.

But the afternoon heat eventually gave way...

On our last morning, after having unintentionally explored many of the back streets of Lyon, we ended up at the Resistance and Deportation Museum which has a fantastic presentation about what happened in Lyon during the German occupation, a lot of interesting facts about the Vichy government and its dissolution of the Third Republic by Marshal Petain, and the Resistance movements. Our visit concluded with a very moving forty five minute film made up of extracts from the trial of Klaus Barbie, the infamous “Butcher of Lyon” who was head of the Gestapo and who headquartered in the building where the museum is situated.

No sooner had we arrived back on board when, to an enormous clap of thunder, the heavens opened and it poured – excellent weather for a glass of champagne over a chicken curry lunch.

One could spend an age exploring Lyon but for us it is time to turn toward the north again – perhaps we will consider returning next year but this is unfortunately improbable.

(Just as an aside and with reference to the earlier comment about the non-Bresse chicks having to keep up - our chicken Marylands, bought at the Carrefour, were individually labelled and numbered. Remarkable!)

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