2019 Barging France

Cruising in a Canicule: 24-26/07

Tannay – Marigny-sur-Yonne – Chitry-les-Mines

First thing in the morning, our neighbours departed. Xavier and Marion towards Chitry then Mary and Angie towards Clamecy.

‘Aquarius’ heads off.

France was deep into its second canicule (heatwave) as we planned the next few days. Still, we wanted to get a look at the actual village of Tannay before we left for the trip towards Chitry-les-Mines. We were a bit lazy and didn’t retrieve the third bike from the engine room and so we decided to walk to Tannay. Wrong call!

On a normal day, it would have been a comfortable bit of exercise. The trip there is all uphill but most is on a pedestrian path.

Near the top of the climb – walking in the shade.

However, even at 10 am, the temperatures were in the high 30’s and there was precious little shade. While there were good views out to the north as we climbed, the lack of shade meant that by the time we arrived in the pretty village, we were very hot and bothered.

The village square was pretty with flowers, the monument to the wars and hotel de ville.

The quite imposing church, Saint-Léger was built over the 13th to 15th century

and inside had several striking stained glass windows.

It was heading for lunchtime and we walked to the supermarket the other side of the village expecting it to be closed. Luckily it was open and we could buy some cool water, grapes and a few grocery essentials. The grapes we ate on the return journey back down the hill in what was now a temperature in the low 40’s.

At this point, our plan was to get Steve to the next train station at Cercy-la-Tour, well down the southern side of the Nivernais, in just under ten days. He would leave for Paris and we would continue west along the Canal lateral à la Loire to perhaps Sancerre (looking forward to some delicious wines), then turn around and return towards a mooring somewhere on the Nivernais for winter.

The cruise for the next couple of days.

Casting off, we found the first lifting bridge open and passed through, yet to experience the joys of opening one’s own bridge. It should not have been open for us, as there is a courteous expectation that one will lower the bridge again after passing through, to accommodate the road traffic across the canal. Having a keen guest lightened the stress on the deck crew as Steve volunteered to get off and work the next few bridges,

Just a short walk from the last one …

sometimes choosing to stay on the towpath and walk between bridges that were not too far apart. He also helped with temporary moorings

and with operating the locks. None of this relaxing on the stern deck with a cool drink for our guests!

As the afternoon wore on, and we realised the terrible error of judgment we had made in starting to cruise after the middle of the day, temperatures climbed still further. In a short while, it read 45 degrees in the shade of the aft deck, and 65 degrees on the bow, where Lisette was managing the ropes in the locks. Ian and Steve kept Lisette hydrated between locks, but eventually, they sent her off to periodically cool off in the shower. Towards the end of the afternoon’s exertions, she was standing under the shower fully clothed, before dragging herself back on deck.

Learning. Always learning. Note to selves: don’t plan to cruise in the heat of the day.

Hoping we might get to Chitry-les-Mines we waved at Xavier and Marion who were moored at Monceaux-le-Comte and pressed onwards. However, we eventually had to stop at Marigny-sur-Yonne because the last lock before Chitry would be closed by the time we reached it. Sadly, it’s now a less than attractive mooring: it was very shallow on one bank, and the deeper side had suffered a fair amount of damage on the edge so there was precious little space for Catharina Elisabeth to moor. Until recently, it was the site of a small shipyard run by a British ex-pat, but tragically, he died recently and the yard (and attendant mooring) is rapidly decaying. Still, a welcome drink and dinner cures many ills and, situated as we were, right in front of the next lock, we would start off early the next day.

Next morning, we had an easy, three kilometre run to Chitry-les-Mines and a tight but adequate place was found for us in the basin – after John, the helpful capitaine, moved some of the scruffy holiday boats to a spot around the corner.

In front of Catharina was a lovely cruiser, Lady Coby, and it was here that we met Guy and Chantal, a French couple who had moved to Australia when they were young, lived and worked in Australia for years. For 20 of those years, Guy and Chantal were the winemakers of the (then) prestigious Eagle Vale estate in the Margaret River region. A few years ago, they had returned to live in France after retiring (and parting ways with their US partner in the winery who was more interested in bulk than quality) and have taken up cruising the waterways of their homeland. Lady Coby flew both Aussie and French flags.

Boxing Kangaroo flags on jackstaff of two boats in the harbour

The marina at Chitry-les-Mines has been managed by British ex-pat Ted Johnson for quite some time. His son John, born and raised in France, now runs the marina with his delightful wife Stephanie. Chatting with Ted, shortly after mooring, it turned out he had seen our motley group of three the previous day, melting as we scaled the hill up to Tannay and would have offered us a lift had he known who we were. The marina also offered delivery of fresh bread each morning and we very much appreciated giving John our order that evening, so we could receive our baguettes and croissants next morning. The café next to the capitainerie was busy at both lunch and dinner times with locals and port visitors enjoying meals and drinks.

The tables were pretty much full at mealtimes.

It was still very hot. We all took our chairs and sat in the shade of some trees beside the basin. Later, Ian and Steve cycled up to Corbigny for groceries. It was still very hot, so following the advice of Guy and Chantal, we took towels, chairs, wine and cheese over the bridge to the river and sat in the water.

Steve’s photo captures some of the delights of a cool river, on a hot day, in one of France’s wine regions.

Too shallow and rocky to actually swim, the rather cold river water was, however, just what we needed to cool off.

We noted down the rates for wintering at the port which were very reasonable (about €1,100/$A1,700 from September to June inclusive) and made our plans for the ascent to the summit of the Nivernais at Baye. Off tomorrow.

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    One Response

  1. It’s lovely to read your blog again, Ian and Lisette. Funnily enough, we’ve just been experiencing a similar heatwave to the one you describe here. It’s been horrendously hot here in the past couple of weeks, but luckily today is cooler, although now of course it’s raining. Typical Netherlands…one thing or the other! How lovely your photos are with that beautiful light. I can almost feel the heat. We’re missing France ourselves as we dare not go in case we have to quarantine when we come back and that wouldn’t be convenient at the moment. So near, and yet so far.

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