2019 Barging France Nivernais - Canal du

Short trips to millions of bottles of bubbly: (23/8 – 29/08)

Vincelles – Bailly – Vincelles – Bailly – Auxerre

Our next set of guests (our fourth for the season) was to be Frank and Tracey, friends from Melbourne. They also very much enjoy France and, in between Frank’s extensive and frequent travelling as a university academic, spend time in their own house in the Loire region. Arranging them to get to Catharina Elisabeth was no problem as this was the same place we had picked up our first set of visitors.

I whiled away a little bit of the morning watching the piranha-like feeding frenzy of the little fish that are common in the Yonne. A chunk of bread doesn’t last long in the water even if it’s not captured by waterbirds.

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Frank and Tracey arrived early afternoon and almost immediately we set off for a cruise to Bailly. Frank and Tracey could only stay a couple of nights so we needed to squeeze in a quick voyage as, on their last visit, we hadn’t been able to cruise.

Four voyages but three completely overlapping

Bailly is just around the corner through one lock and in less than an hour we were tied up on the quay. There was time for a quick walk up the hill to the cave of Bailly-Lapierre, which was fast becoming a regular haunt, where we indulged in some wine tasting and purchased a couple of bottles of chilled crémant. They went down very nicely with dinner.

The next morning, while we all appreciated the tranquillity of this beautiful mooring but with time pressing, we took off for the miniature cruise back to Vincelles and lunch at the restaurant beside the mooring.

Can’t moor much closer to a restaurant than this!

After lunch we took a walk through Vincelles. One notable feature was that both boulangeries were closed. A bit inconvenient. A note in the one closest to the mooring described the problem – usually the two boulangeries co-operated and arrange their summer holiday so as not to overlap. Unfortunately, le autre boulangerie had changed their dates without consultation creating the problem. Well, that was one version of the events!

Next, we explored the church which had been closed on our last visit. The interior was in need of a bit of attention and we weren’t able to locate a reference to Joan of Arc.

However, the priest showed up while we were there and asked if we would be staying long? It turned out that a wedding was just about to take place. After chatting with Lisette about a bit of the history of the church, he moved away, we continued exploring and then he began to chant in the most melodic fashion – just for enjoyment. Charming.

We were happy to do a bit more exploring of the town and 30 min later returned to watch the arrival of guests and the bride. In contrast to how we handle weddings, the groom greeted the bride as she arrived. We didn’t hang around but headed off as we were off to Irancy to visit some more wineries. Again!

Frank and Tracey were engaged in some sort of walking competition so they foot-slogged it across the canal and up the hill to the sweet little village of Irancy, while we took the easy way of electric bikes up the hill – although I had to stop and push the bike because Lisette’s battery had again died. We usually set off with both bike batteries, and swap bikes when Lisette’s dies. I can usually make it up most slopes on leg power alone. It now seems this battery must have a dead cell as it takes charge, runs OK for a bit, then the charge drops suddenly and the motor dies but if you leave it for a time, it perks up again. A new battery will have to be purchased!

Irancy is a lovely stone village in a basin of vineyards.

As it was a bit late in the afternoon we only visited a couple of cellars, one of which was Podor. This was becoming our favourite and we collected several bottles. At another cellar, we purchased some ten-year-old bottles at a very reasonable cost, which, when we opened that evening at dinner, were still very drinkable.

Celebrating our aged bottle of local pinot noir with Tracey and Frank.

Frank and Tracey left the next day and we decided to cruise back to Bailly once again for a bit more exploring (alright, exploring wine cellars) and to do a bit of painting work. It’s such a lovely spot. So, three-quarters of an hour later, we were tied up again near the huge store of crémant.

So peaceful at Bailly.

Over the next couple of days we took a few bike trips and just mooched around. First trip was to the chapel just up the road (and UP is the correct description, so steep are the streets) where there was the display of Hosotte’s art. We had decided we need to have some physical copies of his work and, as we couldn’t afford the prints they had for sale, we purchased a couple of posters of his exhibits. These, we bought back with us to Sunbury, had them framed and they now hang on the wall of our new home.

Our two Hosotte posters framed at home.

We also thought we’d check out another nearby wine village – Saint-Bris-le-Vineux. Although it was a pleasant ride in lovely weather we were disappointed that when we arrived – everything seemed to be closed. There were no cellars we could detect, the wine shop was closed, the church was closed and nothing was open for a bit of lunch.

The church was quite imposing from the rear.


… and from the front. Shame we couldn’t get inside.

So, we just took a few photos and carried on to Champs-sur-Yonne where we came across an ornate ‘water tower’. A nearby poster commented upon its ornate facade but we couldn’t work out how it provided any water service. There was no tank on top (of course it may have been removed) and inside the construction, there were steps leading underground – for what purpose? Apparently, it was built for the ancestors of the French actress Juliette Binoche. That association and its unusual structure are enough to have generated substantial local interest in its restoration and to create a park with public access in the future. We were fortunate to arrive just after the first round of works which had largely restored the basic structure.

La Fontaine Sombron

After a pleasant few days of not doing terribly much, we cast off and a short, three-hour cruise had us moored once again beside the park in Auxerre.

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    2 Responses

  1. Hi Ian and Lisette,

    I enjoyed reading, last two days :), your blog. I’m jealous of you two. You followed your heart wishes.
    I hope upon my retirement to do same!

    Johnny Tanis

    1. Hi Johnny, we are both lucky and fortunate that we were able to plan to do all this. Do make sure you make your best effort to prepare for retirement – before you actually start it. Best wishes!

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