Thursday, 17 October 2019

The Saône & Petit Saône: Gray – Auxonne – Saint-Jean-de-Losne - Auxonne.

9 October to 16 October 2019. 86,5 kilometers, 6 locks.
Wednesday 9 October. Gray to Auxonne. 50 kilometers, 3 locks. 5 hours, 35 minutes.
On Monday we did a bit of a walkabout around Gray, almost deserted on a Monday morning, had coffee at one of the riverside cafes and then retired back to Elle for a braai and more wintering planning, a terrible thing to have to do after so long in lovely France.

Restoration of the belfry of the Basilica.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Gray built
between 1478 and 1559.

The crypt of St Pierre Fourier

They were working on this roof in July!

The Hôtel Gauthiot d'Ancier with its staircase tower
containing a 28-step, revolving, circular staircase which,
when turned and locked, hides the room where Pierre Fourier
lived which hiding from Cardinal Richelieu.

A printing house dating from the Revolution.

Ceramic mantle ornamentation...

...the maker of which, we were proudly informed by the workmen repairing
the huge wooden door to the building, was Parisian.

St Pierre.

The much-photographed Hotel de Ville of Town Hall.

Why are ZA oranges so much cheaper?

Grande Rue.

The view from our coffee table.

Tuesday was similarly spent…
Wednesday it was “Goodbye Gray” as we set off for a long haul downstream to Auxonne, into a stiff breeze which was really pushing by the time we arrived.

The other Panta Rhei

Looking back to Pontallier-sur-Saone.


Lamarche-sur-Saone mooring.

The twenty-four-meter barge Fidutia was still moored on the downstream pontoon, politely, with quite a section of his stern sitting off the mooring (there are no length nor time restrictions on these pontoons), and owner, eighty-year-old Bryan popped over to ask if we were going to Saint-Jean and, if so, could we deliver a gift to the ladies at the boatyard ‘Atelier Fluvial’ where he would be over-wintering his boat. As we were and if was no effort at all, we took his gift, and himself, aboard; the gift for delivery and he for drinks.

Lynn and Bryan.
Bryan is an ex-Qantas 747 pilot who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder, a sickness not recognized by the airline, who declared him fit to fly despite his condition. He eventually resigned, sued Qantas and, with the proceeds of his successful claim, bought his barge. After owning for nine years, where he has largely single-handed, he now wants to sell.
Thursday 10 October. Auxonne to Saint-Jean-de-Losne. 18 kilometers, 1 lock. 5 hours, 35 minutes.
On another grey morning

which morphed into a thing of beauty, we set off down very familiar territory to SJDL, eventually arriving at the long ‘steps’ quay to find it totally deserted of any kind of pleasure boat, something I don’t think we have ever experienced before.

A stroll across to ‘Atelier Fluvial’ to fulfill our obligation, then to the Casino supermarket for some supplies, a(nother) braai and an evening relaxing before setting off for Auxonne where we will need to begin winterizing in earnest.
Friday 11 October. Saint-Jean-de-Losne to Auxonne (Municipal pontoon). 18 kilometers, 1 lock. 5 hours, 35 minutes.
Another superb autumn day sees us, before nine, at the waterside fueling-station which relieves us of[SC1]  €340 in exchange for 353 liters of diesel and, with a very full tummy, Elle takes us back upstream

Filling up.

Goodbye until next year.

The lock leading to the Canal Rhone-au-Rhin.
The white structure is where the lockies operate from.

Approaching Auxonne.

to the municipal pontoon where, Bryan has informed us, the electricity and water is left on in the off-season (after 15 September) for the whole weekend once the ladies have closed the Tourist office on a Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, Lynn had already paid €6-bargain fee before having the five o’clock, weekend switch-on, confirmed.

Starting the winterizing process.

Bimini coming off.

More wind.

The moon outshining the streetlights.

And then it was washing and oiling bikes, setting window covers and whatever takes so long doing the small tasks before the true winterizing starts.
We had invited Bryan over for a curry lunch and he duly arrived at twelve-thirty and must have enjoyed the company as he only left after five when we had scheduled a call to Ian and Sian aboard Njord.
The rest of the weekend was spent doing more of the same; shopping, laundry, cleaning, getting dirty, de-rusting, painting, getting clean…maybe you get the drift?
Monday 14 October. Auxonne to Auxonne (Port Royal marina). 500 meters, 0 locks. 20 minutes.
Why twenty minutes to travel five hundred meters one might ask? Well, because we needed to warm up the engines so that after docking in Port Royal we could change the engine oils – which we duly did after luckily making it into the port before the wind came up. Pulling down the dodger-bimini and putting up the winter cover was an interesting exercise in the freshening breeze but luckily it was all done before it really started howling.
We are moored on the day-visitors pontoon and it is likely that Elle will be moved to another spot while we are away – a practice I really hate but I suppose that they have done the same thing to plenty of boats in the past, so we will just have to trust them.

Saloon window view.

And then in a blur of pouring rain,

maintenance, birthday wishes pour moi,

Birthday meal - smoked salmon and bearnaise sauce.

packing and weighing suitcases (the stuff, found unsuitable for boat use over the past couple of years, is starting to go back to SA) we are finally (almost) done – the house water system still has to be drained – and then we will drag our luggage to our self-catering establishment in town,

The lounge.

The view from one of the windows...

...and some of the forty-seven steps to get there!

enjoy a belated birthday luncheon at the nearby Le Corbeau restaurant hotel,

Oeufs en meurette & snails in a cream and parsley sauce
served in a choux pastry cup.

 Bœuf bourguignon - stunning!

discover sleeping on a stable surface once again, take a taxi, then a train and finally a plane to South Africa where son Andrew has kindly agreed to meet us at the airport on a Friday late afternoon and then take us back to our brick house in African traffic conditions, something I, personally, am not looking forward to, especially after the kindness and consideration of the French people, but that’s the way it is.
We have been aboard for 176 days (5 months, 23 days) during which time we have traveled approximately 1,450 kilometers, traversed 459 locks, 6 swinging bridges, and nine tunnels, using 1,120 liters of diesel at a rate of 1 liter every 1,3 kilometers. We also consumed approximately 11,500 liters of water and an unknown quantity of wine…

Seeing as this is a blog about Europe and that the final post is not quite picture-complete, it will be published anyway albeit from Gate 91, Terminal 2C at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Refinements were added in South Africa.