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

  • October 2015
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for October, 2015

Rochefort-sur-Nenon to Saint Vit (Tues 27/10)

Posted by contentedsouls on 30/10/2015

5 locks, 19kms

G is ‘hopping’ the car at the moment with the bike, so we are limiting our cruising to a maximum of 20 kms each day. The weather is glorious and the autumn colours sensational – the only fly in the ointment is the locks. They are very fast filling and, for the most part, with nowhere very handy to get a rope on. In one instance we had to move forward and lift the bar, then shoot back, cross sides, sling the front rope round a ladder and wrap it round tight before all hell broke loose as the lock filled. 4 consecutive days of this is not doing my, still hurting shoulder, a great deal of good. Everything else in the garden is, however, very rosy and extraordinarily beautiful; it seems to get even more amazing every day.

We left R-s-N and continued along a river section before heading through the first lock of the day.


When we popped up in the lock there was a very inviting looking restaurant and the car park was full of trucks – always a good sign – but there was nowhere to moor so it was a couple of biscuits and a coffee for lunch.


Back out on the river again and we encountered the strange phenomena of a narrow (by French standards) right bank navigation channel to the side of the Doubs. Guess what; just like bridge ‘oles, we encountered our first and only oncoming of the day in the form of a rather nice British barge.


Bearing in mind that the water levels at the moment are very, very, low I’m not sure I’d fancy cruising this bit – especially downstream – if the river levels were up a bit and running over. Approaching our destination for the day, it looked like the mooring had been taken by winter moorers but, on closer inspection, there was room for us once I’d slid down the slope on my bum to wrap the stern rope round a tree.


G was off to fetch the car and I walked the dogs as dusk fell


Amazingly we were able to get a satellite signal between these trees and banks.

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Choisey to Rochefort-sur-Nenon (26/10)

Posted by contentedsouls on 27/10/2015

5 locks, 11 kms

Just over 2kms to the outskirts of the fabulous Dole and the first lock onto the River; le Doubs.


The Rhone au Rhin alternates now between sections of canal and sections of river – quite stunning it is too. Although we’re missing out on all the towns and bridges being covered in flowers, as we’re doing it so late in the year, we do have the benefit of the autumn foliage and virtually no traffic – just the odd hire boat from Dole.

Having been deeply disappointed that we couldn’t moor the boat in Dole itself – due to extremely low water levels – we were provided with an unexpected mooring at our 2nd lock of the day. As we approached the lock only the right hand gate opened and although we can fit through one gate it wasn’t a lot of good to us as, unless the lock completes a full cycle, it wouldn’t operate. VNF were soon onto it and in we went. The trouble was that it wouldn’t shut behind us either, so they asked us to reverse out and moor up whilst VNF re-enforcements were called. An excellent mooring for us within strolling distance of the city and I, rather selfishly, hoped that it might take a day or two to fix.


It became apparent that there was something stopping the left gate from closing fully so I wandered off with the camera, and found a rather special canoe slalom below the historic walls. My request to G to help me get the kayak off of the roof fell on deaf ears.


I returned to the lock fully expecting to find VNF men buried in paperwork, grappling hooks and harnesses. None of that, they were happily fishing for the mysterious blockage with nary a life jacket between them! Judging by the ensuing grunts and language it was something quite heavy and, had it come away suddenly, there was only one way the men were going to go – into the water backwards! Crazy!!!!!!!

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All these heroics were to no avail, so it was decided to bring MR up and use her as a platform – somewhat to my relief as she would at least provide a safer platform. You wouldn’t think that a stone this size could stop a 4 ton gate; but it can.


Drama over and we were on our way


There will be loads of pics of Dole from our day out there, but this post is about our cruise through and we exited the city through a lock, back onto a canal section, under glorious Plane trees before following the corridor through an ‘open’ flood lock or stop gate back onto the river


our mooring for the night was just outside the village on a little ‘rise and fall’ pontoon below a cliff face that was lined by river huts with decorated gardens and artist studios


An absolutely glorious day


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St Symphorien and boat hunting

Posted by contentedsouls on 20/10/2015

The decision to remain in Europe has been made and we are now in a position to actively look for a <20 metre long by 4.2 metre wide Dutch Barge. We have short listed 3 which we will be looking at over the next couple of weeks. Here’s the plan (yeah, I know; boating and plans) – find a Barge, continue to live on board Matilda Rose whilst we make any necessary alterations to the new boat, move our stuff across and do any sorting to MR before putting her up for sale – either in Europe or ship her back to UK. We would like to have moved across boats in time to put MR up for sale in the spring, but we are quite happy as we are so there is no rush; we’d rather take our time and find the right boat.

Meanwhile, G has been back in the UK and, as usual, returned with man flue – it remains to be seen whether or not he passes it onto me. I, in his absence, have been made very welcome by the local boating community and so have not been bored. There are 6 occupied boats here and between us we have 7 cats and 8 dogs – temporarily rising to 10 cats when three abandoned kittens were found by Karen whilst out cycling; despite Karen’s attempts for me to re-home one, I declined after discussing it with Daisy. All three are now at the local rescue centre.

I have been invited for lots of tea, wine and shopping trips so the time has passed quickly and Chris and Helen (Facebook friend) have been lovely, also driving us to recover the car before G left. None the less, it’s been nearly 2 weeks and it’s time to move on now. We have until the 8th of December to explore the Rhone au Rhin canal/River Doubes before it closes until the 22nd January – flood levels permitting of course. This is the area I have most wanted to cruise and a small taster (by car) suggests it won’t disappoint; it will be nice to do it out of season rather than in the summer ‘rush’. We then will have only 2 weeks to wait before the Canal du Centre re-opens. Let’s hope the plan comes together as it’s already been incredibly difficult to get a definitive answer on these closures and I am stoically avoiding the stories currently floating around about this winter’s weather.


Between the big River Saone and the smallish canal, the scenery whilst walking has had plenty of variety. 2 hotel boats have passed me on their way to the historic town of Dole (our destination tomorrow if G is up to it) and look as if they couldn’t possibly squeeze through the lock we’re moored below – they did fit though; just.

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That, in a nutshell, has been my last couple of weeks – onwards and upwards tomorrow, hopefully.

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Oisilly to Maxilly-sur-Saone, Auxonne and St Symphorien Mon 6/10-Thurs 9/10

Posted by contentedsouls on 14/10/2015

6 locks and 49 km

A bit of a misnomer really as Maxilly was our last stop before reaching the Saone. Not the most glamorous of moorings and Daisy was confined to boat due to the proximity of traffic. None the less, it served as a useful base for us to head off in the car to try and find a mooring where G was comfortable about leaving MR (and me) home alone whilst he returned to the UK for a family visit.


Our first try was at Pontaillier; a small town with the usual shops for me to enjoy poking around in. It did have a ‘floating’ pontoon (the Saone can quickly go into flood), but a very steep set of steps with close proximity to small roads and little chance of a satellite signal.


The second try was the historic city of Gray which I really fancied and where I felt I could do some serious retail damage. The moorings, however, weren’t safe should the river start coming up – fabulous place though.


I’ll certainly need to explore further, rather than just the river bank. We then trundled off to find somewhere to walk the dogs and found this row of riverside ‘summer houses’. The rather dilapidated one, from the front, hid an amazing surprise from behind!


We called it a day and returned home thinking we’d have another go at finding a mooring in the morning. Sadly we awoke to peeing rain – that didn’t stop all day – and I had managed (in my sleep) to trap a nerve/pull a muscle or something in my shoulder blade and was in a ridiculous amount of pain, plus a sore throat and swollen glands. So we stayed put and I had a pyjama day. My Facebook friend, Helen, said that there was a free mooring where they were wintered at St Symphorien – on the Rhone au Rhin Canal, just off of the river Saone. So we decided to take that option and headed off in their direction on the Wednesday.

Unfortunately, en route, we had a message to say that another boat had taken that last remaining mooring but that we were welcome to breast up to them. So we pulled onto the floating pontoon at the gorgeous town of Auxonne and drove across to join them for a cuppa and assess the situation.


Sadly, breasting up wasn’t an option as the lovely Carrie had 3 Whippets and Daisy (staple diet for Whippets) and our two crossing back and forth her boat wasn’t going to work, so we decided to stay at Auxonne. Later that evening Helen phoned to say that she’d spoken to the Capitanarie and that there would be a land side space for us by Thursday afternoon.

Thursday morning I managed to get out and about in Auxonne with the camera, buy a loaf, one pair of shoes, one pair of boots, get the credit card cancelled and break the phone! Hey ho – what a lovely little town.


It was decision time and my preference was to spend a few nights at Auxonne and a few at St Symphorien but, if I got to the latter (Helen and Chris would have crewed for me) and the Capitanarie hadn’t freed up the mooring or the mooring didn’t have suitable access for the dogs, I would have been stuffed. So I wimped out and we moved down to St S in the afternoon.

We had an ‘up’ lock to negotiate from the Saone onto the Rhone au Rhin Canal and the lockie insisted we turn off the engine and then whacked the paddles fully open – NOT funny and G swiftly turned the engine back on. I doubt if I could have held the boat on a normal day, let alone with a very sore arm/neck/shoulder – it did provide me with a bit of free traction though! Had I opted to move up here without G mid-week I would have been badly shaken and stirred.

The mooring was free and Chris and Helen were ready and waiting to help us moor up and line up with the gang plank. It was a bit tricky for Baxter and G had to lift him off to start with but, by Saturday, he was managing it by himself. Daisy loved it as she could defend the boat from all comers.


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St Seine Vingeanne to Oisilly. Sat 4/10–Sun 5/10

Posted by contentedsouls on 11/10/2015

10 locks, 15km

After Debs and Kevin left us we stayed one more day. Muttley needed a rest after his visit from Herbie.


Also I wanted to have lunch at the cute little restaurant at Montigny – it had great write ups on Trip Advisor too. Hmm, they clearly had the same difficulties as us re finding fresh produce. The atmosphere was good as was the service but …..

After lunch we had a look around the village of S S Vingeanne itself – the only one I hadn’t previously explored.


Sunday morning we pulled pins for Oisilly. A pretty, sunny and pleasantly uneventful journey.


Oisilly is one of those middle of nowhere moorings where we could all sit about in the sun without anyone to worry or worry us. We were, therefore, a bit surprised when this gang turned up for a bit of training.


Changing  the subject completely; I tried to put a comment on Sue No Problem’s blog today and received an ‘error message 403’. It said that my actions were considered to be hostile and that I had been banned for previous malicious behaviour!!!!?

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Cusey to Saint Seine sur Vingeanne Weds 30/9

Posted by contentedsouls on 04/10/2015

7 locks, 14 km

The pounds are longer on this stretch (which means Muttley and I can’t keep up with the boat), so we opted for method ‘C’. Method C involves G setting off on the boat and lifting the rods as he goes, whilst I drive the car down to the day’s destination and then walk back to meet him. In theory, he should only have to do the first 2 or 3 locks before I re-join him but theory and practice are rarely the same things.

We crossed into Burgundy after 5 km and the canal followed the route of the River Vingeanne which meanders alongside. It was another sunny day producing sparkles on the surface of the shallow river as I drove through the pretty villages built on either side. This is how I imagined France would be when we first started planning this adventure. I had to stop in most of the villages as photographs needed to be taken and people were very curious about the presence of a stranger. I was also trying to find a restaurant as Debbie and Kevin were visiting the following day. I found one in Montigny and stopped to chat to the proprietor about dinner for 4 the following evening – sadly he wasn’t going to be open Thursday night. That was the only ‘commercial’ place I saw; no boulangerie, hairdresser, bar/tabac – not even a chemist.


With all the distractions, Muttley and I only managed to walk for 1.40 mins and pass one lock before MR came around the corner and picked us up. In my absence, G had found a new bed on the boat for Muttley – very happy with it he was too! Even happier when I got back on board and provided him with a chin rest.


Once moored up it was time to drive to Fontaine-Francaise, the nearest town of any size. It did manage a boulangerie, chemist and one restaurant; but the latter only opened on Fridays and Saturdays. We did, however, find a tiny store which offered some fresh meat; namely one lump of pork, one of turkey and 2 pork chops. It also had a load of moules, prawns and salmon in a freezer but we weren’t aloud to touch those as they were all reserved and had peoples’ names on them.The town also sported a smart chateau on the lake.


The gang turned up Thursday afternoon with young Herbie being the first to land in the boat and we all quickly settled down for a late night/early morning. It’s a great mooring for all the animals with a grassy area, woodland and no through traffic.


We muddled through Thursday night with the lump of turkey and went out to lunch on Friday, but Debs and I ended up with a rather nasty condition.

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You know the one …… pudding belly!


All good things must come to an end though, and they had to head off at tea time as they had a 4 o’clock ferry to catch on Saturday and they wanted to split up the long drive overnight.

Great to see you guys, as always – see you in the spring.

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Villegusien-le-Lac to Cusey Mon/Tues 28th/29th

Posted by contentedsouls on 03/10/2015

14 locks, 14 kms

Downhill locks, close together and at an average depth of only 3.5 metres means we don’t need a rope on so I can walk and lift the bars as I go. Another beautiful day and even Baxter managed 2 locks and 1 km. Waiting at a lock for MR to arrive, I spotted these guys who were extremely friendly; thoroughly enjoying a forehead scratch and butting at me when I stopped.


The moorings at Cusey were in need of a bit of tlc, but still had free electric and water and one of those ‘things to see’ maps, so we set off in the car on Tuesday up into the ancient village of Montsaugeon.


Very beautiful but very isolated – extremely grim in winter I would think. We then dropped down towards Riviere–les-Fosses in search of the shop selling local produce; a National Park; a ‘View point’ and a vineyard. We found some views and vineyards and some dead ends which came with compulsory amused, but always helpful, locals. No sign of produce shops or National Parks though – maybe the whole area was National Park.


We couldn’t find anywhere on our travels to have a coffee, let alone lunch. We had been warned to stock up well on the ‘Marne’ side of the tunnel as the ‘Saone’ side was extremely remote – ‘they’ weren’t exaggerating, but had omitted to tell us how beautiful it is.

As it was getting late, I called Daisy and set off with the RCU for the tracker to fetch her in for the night. I was just in time to see her scrape through a fence, on her way to meet me, and knock the new collar (complete with tracker attached) off. On closer inspection, the new collar was knackered and we had come within a whisker of losing the tracker device after all the aggro we had in getting it in the first place. It’s now attached to her flea and tic collar.



Here’s the one for Facebook


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