2 October to 8 October 2018. 73,6 kilometers, 18 locks.
2 October – Decize to Fleury-sur-Loire. 13 kilometers, 3 locks, 2 hours 15 minutes.
A very leisurely cruise saw us moored up in Fleury in no time at all only to find that the port had ‘closed’ for winter the previous day, switching off the water and electricity supply, much to the concern of a couple of hireboaters.
Apart from a church, a post office and a boulangerie Fleury has little to offer
|Post office on left, boulangerie on right.|
– but we did change engine oils and, because it is a pretty and peaceful place, we stayed two nights.
4 October – Fleury-sur-Loire to Chevenon. 12 kilometers, 3 locks, 2 hours 10 minutes.
With the mist hanging heavily over the water we cast lines and set off for the first lock of the morning, closely followed by a Frenchman single-handing his small Dutch cruiser Vlam.
As the day warmed up we enjoyed the most stunning cruising imaginable
until just before the Jaugenay lock where there is a sharp corner on the approach to the lock and where a speeding barge which had exited the lock had decided, incorrectly, that he had priority, forced us too close to the bank and grounded us with his displacement.
Chevenon is just another peaceful mooring with the village itself some six hundred meters away. The nearby town of Imphy had an Intermarche however and as supplies of Lynn’s favourite wine were exhausted, we cycled the three-plus kilometres, through the bustling town, to the supermarket which luckily had a plentiful stock of the necessary. Laden, we whizzed back over the Loire
|The Loire River.|
deposited the shopping aboard and then continued on into Chevenon which has a small restaurant which Lynn had read had good reviews.
|Cafe du Centre.|
We were most pleasantly surprised! A somewhat sterile interior, by one o’clock the small restaurant was packed with a couple of Australians off a hireboat, a pair of Dutch cyclists and about another thirty five French people ranging from blue overall-ed ‘blue collars’ to smartly dressed ‘suits’.
The €12.50 menu option we chose entailed an entrée and a main course wiith an unknown amount of wine – we must have had a bit too much out of the bottle which had been plonked on our table as an extra €3 was added to our bill.
The food was delicious French cooking and the servings more than generous.
|Divine quiche - a meal on its own.|
|Roast quinea-fowl (pintade) with chips.|
5 October – Chevenon to Nevers. 11 kilometers, 2 locks, 2 hours 5 minutes.
More glorious weather (once it had warmed up!) saw us meandering along the pretty waterway until we were at the turnoff to Nevers where we waited an age for the lock to fill and eject two Locaboats, and where I managed to misjudge our entry and scrape some paint off the gunnel. One lock later and we were into the very pleasant port and guided to a place against the quay (much better than being on a finger); we explained to the young capitain that we would stay one night but in the morning we would be moving to the opposite bank as we wanted to do some sanding and painting, the latter not being a good idea in our leafy mooring.
|The stop-over quay in foreground wth the big boat mooring in the background.|
|The smaller boat port although there are a couple of big barges moored against the quay.|
Bikes off and into town – and what a lovely city it is!
|Nevers, the City of Spires, dominated by the Cathedral of Saint Cyricus and Saint Julitta of Nevers|
Initially named Noviodunum under Roman rule, it was one of Julius Caesar’s most important strongholds and then famed as the power-center of the Dukes of Nevers and now has a multitude of 15th to 18th Century edifices, narrow pedestrian streets, lots of café’s, pubs, restaurants, a big covered market (where we bought the biggest chicken Marylands which we have ever seen), and enough small fashion outlets to make time spent window shopping most rewarding.
|A rather disappointing flea-market.|
|A big Friday street market.|
|The Cathedral tower.|
|A parquet model of the Cathedral.|
|The Cathedral was almost totally demolished by British bombs in 1944.|
Apparently a major blunder by someone in London.
|The Palace of the Dukes of Nevers, now a municipal office and facience museum.|
|The Palace viewed from across the Place de la Republique.|
|The gatehouse and then the keep. Positioned at right angles to one another|
so that a single cannon ball would not damage both gates.
|Our evening view across to the popular La Marine seafood restaurant.|
The following day turned out to be windy and quite cool with a maximum temperature of 16C so we rode to the Carrefour for some provisions, canned the idea of sanding and painting and slothed around the boat doing as little as possible.
Our last morning in Nevers was again spent exploring: First a visit to the Espace Bernadette Soubirous, the hospice school of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, where Bernadette Soubirous, famously known for her visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, went to escape the crowds who believed that she had healing powers. My apologies but we did not see the pamphlet nor the sign forbidding photography in the Chapel.
|The Chapel where St Bernadette lies.|
|Her body - read the story in the link above.|
|A grotto resembling the apparition cave in Lourdes and made from stone transported from there.|
|Presumably the teaching hospital with the entrance to the chapel at center.|
One can book a retreat here.
|Part of the (free) museum.|
Many cities in France have marked walking ‘trails’ which take you to the most interesting places to see; in Nevers’ case it is a painted blue line which corresponds with a blue route marked on the city’s tourist map.
It is really worth the effort to follow.
|The Romanesque Church of St Etienne.|
|Shopping boulevards, strangely quiet but this is Monday after all.|
We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in this lovely place, would definitely consider the Port as an overwintering option, and would love to come back someday but it is now time to move on.