Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

  • September 2015
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Donjeux to Froncles

Posted by contentedsouls on 08/09/2015

5 locks and 12k

I was delighted to find that the first lock of the day had a tie on bollard in the lock wall (must have heard me moaning)! The second had a road bridge after the top gate and we could see nothing nor no-one to operate it.


It did it all by itself. Once the lock was full, the road barriers went down, up went the bridge and the lock gates opened – just like that.

We’re cruising through increasingly lovely countryside now with very little traffic other than the occasional cruiser and odd peniche. Incidentally, the 3 loaded peniches that we’d been threatened with were way ahead of us and we were never likely to catch their splashes.


As we came into Froncles we saw a mooring outside the VNF offices and pulled onto it. We needed to pay our bill for our tunnel tow but were told that it wasn’t possible at that office and were, mooring wise, redirected to the halte fluvial 200 metres on. We quite liked it where we were on our own, so I walked up to check it out – it was my idea of camping car dystopia. All parked cheek by jowl with just about enough room to put table and chairs out to eat – it was like a camp. I would never have had a moment’s peace for fear that the dogs would be filching food and that Daisy would be stowing away. She’s a shocker at the moment for getting on everyone’s boats as it is. I thought I’d better squeeze through and have a look at the mooring situation though, whilst I was there, and I paced out a space between 2 boats where a Frenchman, his wife and two dogs were sat fishing under the ‘for mooring only – no fishing sign’. As soon as he saw me pacing the space he asked if I was from the boat at the VNF office (I still don’t know how he knew the boat was there) and when I said yes he went mental. You can’t moor your boat here, go somewhere else, etc., etc. Ee by gum, it was just like being back in dear ol’ Blighty and I came over all sentimental for a moment!

Sadly, even to upset him, I couldn’t bear to have spent a night there and the VNF man kindly said we could stay a night or two at their office. Later that day, and just as a peniche came down passed us, an English widebeam came up and we redirected them on to the halte fluvial. Sadly I wasn’t around to see the resultant fireworks – mind you, given the colour of the fisherman’s face when I left him, he was probably in hospital having a heart attack. That’s the first time I’ve ever found a fisherman to be anything other than polite and chatty – often even taking ropes for you.


On the way back from walking Muttley at 6.30 I was greeted, as usual, by Daisy cat who was having a nice old rummage in amongst the bits and bobs that lay around VNF yards. That was the last we saw of her that night. Only once before has she not come within a short while of being called in the 13 years we’ve lived with her (on the Grand Union with Lesley and Joe she disappeared for 3 or 4 hours). We were frantic by 10 pm and scouring the neighbourhood, locks, rivers, etc,. You can imagine. By silly o’clock there was nothing more to do so I crawled into a sleeping bag in the saloon so that I would hear her should she come back. I spent most of the night designing ‘missing’ posters in French and wondering how long G would be prepared to stay (seems he was doing much the same). I had just dozed lightly at 7 when the first VNF man turned up to the office. Within minutes there was scratching and meowing at the front door and a very delighted Daisy jumped at me – all nice and warm and dry but very hungry – so whilst we were out in the cold scouring the neighbourhood by torchlight, it would seem that she had been curled up in the nice warm VNF office having been locked in overnight.


Perhaps not the most pictureskew of moorings, but the views were nice. Before we left this morning we drove up into the village to have a quick look. The Marne was as pretty as ever but that’s all you could say for it – given the number of residents, I was staggered that there was no boulangerie and just commented on that when we spotted a van waiting to pull out. So we pulled over in order to ‘follow that van’ – glad we did!


2 Responses to “Donjeux to Froncles”

  1. Kevin TOO said

    Clever that automatic lock/bridge combo 🙂
    I wonder if you asked if the boulangerie van did deliveries like Tesco 😉

    and finally, have you considered fitting one of these to Daisy?
    other cheaper alternatives are available such as a collar and length of washing line… LOL


    • Jill Budd said

      Thanks for that link Kevin – it is on order and should be delivered to a post office ahead of us sometime next week. I thought they would be heavy but it only weighs 5 grams.


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