Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting shallower

We're in St Jean de Losne, just south of Dijon, for a day of rest and stocking up with food and chandlery before we head up the seriously shallow canals (with supposedly just 12cm depth under our keel...). It is bucketing with rain here, which probably makes anyone in the UK feel better. Over in the boatyard they are operating an immensely noisy sandblaster, but the sound of the rain on the cabin roof is sometimes loud enough to drown it out completely.

St Jean de Losne is the capital of the French waterways - where the Saône joins the Canal de Bourgogne, with the Canal du Rhône a Rhin heading off a few km further north, and "our" canal, the Marne a la Saône, a bit further on. There are lots of Connoisseur boats built in Wroxham, the marina is totally full of Brits, and what with the pouring rain it feels just like the Norfolk Broads.

We've had three excellent days on the Saône since we left Lyon. There's very little current, it's wide and deep, and there are only five locks on the section up to here, so you can make good progress without too much effort. As on the Rhone, we are surrounded by names we know from labels of wine bottles - Nuits St Georges is about 15km away.

We spent a peaceful night in Macon (pictured above) and ate out at the Poisson d'Or, a modest establishment by French standards but with a terrace with a marvellous view of the Saône, good service, delicious food and a splendid white burgundy. On Sunday night we were at Chalon sur Saône and spent a lovely evening with Mike and Dee on Annie-Cathie, before they headed towards Paris on a different route from us..

Apparently some people don't like the Saône. I can't think why. It's surrounded by rich, fertile countryside full of Charollais cattle (Charolles is also not far away), with lovely houses, jumping fish, pretty villages, medieval towns and millions of trees to look at. There's a reasonable choice of stopping places, and much of the time it's totally empty - especially if you leave early in the morning, as we have been doing. Not many mountains, I guess.

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