contentedsouls

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

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Archive for November, 2015

Osselle to Ranchot to Rochefort-sur-Nenon (Mon/Tues 16/17 Nov 15)

Posted by contentedsouls on 30/11/2015

8 LOCKS, 27 KILOMETERS

Again we left in brilliant sunshine with not a breath of wind. Given that we had totally failed in our attempts to book passage with VNF, we weren’t sure that the locks would even be switched on, let alone actually work. The first two managed to do both and provided a 5th telephone number for us to add to our file of numbers that are answered by fax machines (or not at all). The light was on at the third lock but it teased us for some time before it finally capitulated and started to set – we were extremely grateful that it wasn’t windy whilst we lurked as it made it’s mind up.

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Ranchot was a new mooring for us and, in season, has electric and water – neither of course were switched on mid November. The English translation in our Guide Fluvial said, “The port captain will pass by in the evening to collect mooring fees” – he didn’t. We rather liked this place; it has a Post Office where we were helped with our options for posting some very important documents regarding our house sale (although catching it actually open takes some doing), a small bar/restaurant (which opens regularly – even Mondays!) and the most amazing little shop which is a boulangerie, boucherie, charcuterie and epicerie all rolled into one. The only downside to this mooring for us was that we (royal we) had to lift the dogs in and out – probably OK normally, but we were quite a long way down due to the continuing low water levels.

We left there for an overnighter back at pretty Rochefort where, once again, I found myself dog walking in the dark. As we cruised into the third lock of the day a Kingfisher was happily fishing from the lock gate and completely ignoring our approach until, of course, I tried to take a photo; where upon he swiftly vanished.

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I liked the sense of humour behind the cartoons painted on the wall of one of the holiday homes overlooking the River.

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The flag in the village square was poignantly flying at half mast.

It was noticeable that the water levels were even lower than when we went up – there was no water at all flowing over the weir.

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Maroc to Osselle (Sat to Mon 14 to 16/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 22/11/2015

1 lock, 5 kms

As we woke on Saturday morning our phones started to ring; the family rarely know where we are (very few of G’s family read the blog) so were concerned due to the terrible events the evening before. We had only just put the news on ourselves and it was still all sinking in.

Staying where we were wasn’t an option as the cloud had made the bank above the steps too greasy for G or I to get up and down and it was the only way out with the dogs. The sun was shining and we had planned to drop down into St-Vit and walk into the village in the evening to listen to Marc’s band playing; he later confirmed, as we expected, that it had been indefinitely postponed. We moved on but our hearts weren’t in it, so we stopped a little further down at Osselle where we hadn’t stayed before.

With the sun once again dancing attendance I was able to take some prettier pictures of Maroc before we left.

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The one lock we did go through was filled with some very dodgy looking froth; the hull was still covered in it when we moored.

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G was extremely noble and cycled the 15 km round trip to the nearest shop at St Vit to make sure that we had meat, veg and wine for Sunday lunch. Whilst the cycle was out, I set off with Muttley to see whether or not he’d stay with me, at speed, off lead. He was amazing – much to my surprise – the only problem was that, being the weekend, the club cyclists were out in their hoards wanting to overtake us; not possible unless we stopped and pulled over which we had to do with annoying frequency, so we gave it up and resorted to the more conventional method of exercise and walked (my bum also got very sore, very quickly, on the bike).

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On our travels we found one of the little ‘holiday resort’ type beaches for camping/caravanning. It was, of course, closed and fenced off with locked gates on 3 sides – quite strange as the 4th side was open and we were able to go and play on the beach for a while; sadly we hadn’t thought to take bucket and spades and the crème glace kiosk was closed.

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Waterways wise we are now officially in the winter season which means we have to ‘phone before 3pm to book passage on the day before we wish to cruise. We have 4 different telephone numbers for this waterway and we tried them all to book passage for Monday morning; one wasn’t answered and three were answered by a fax machine. Hey ho.

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Besancon to Maroc (Thurs & Fri 12 & 13/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 21/11/2015

6 locks, 16 kms

A straightforward run until we hit the second of the staircase ‘pairs’ and this time I put a front rope on in case the top lock started to back-fill again. It didn’t. The gates opened and we moved into the second chamber, lifted the bar and …… the lights went out. G climbed out to use the lock intercom and spoke to someone – no-one turned up so we had, yet another, lunch in a lock; again too high a wall to get the dogs off. He tried the intercom twice more later on and reached an answering machine both times. Eventually an unhappy someone turned up to liberate us.

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We carried on through the (disappointing) Thoraise tunnel and the mooring we’d used on the way up, then dropped down through the deep lock back onto the main river and watched the weather coming in.

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There was a mad scramble for coats and scarves as it suddenly turned bitterly cold (we’ve clearly gone soft), but we were almost at our destination – Maroc, where the river runs away down the weir on the left bank and the canal sticks to the right. Such a pretty spot and I have received loads of pics from boating friends that they took when they’ve moored here in the summer, using the weir stream to play in and keep cool. We, for the first time, were seriously cool already!

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In the second photo above you can just make out Daisy silhouetted on top of the bank above the steps. This was one of those moorings where we were very grateful for Daisy’s tracker collar as she loved it here and spent long periods mousing in out of sight and inaccessible areas. I could use the tracker to locate her periodically instead of calling and stressing (thank you again for the recommendation Kevin Too).

Muttley and I went off to play – he loves these harvested fields where he can glean corn on the cob and legit with supposedly ‘forbidden fruit’. Leaf digging is quite good fun too.

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We went to bed on Friday night totally unaware of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

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Laissey to Besancon (Tues/Weds 10 & 11/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 20/11/2015

5 locks, 22 kms

At the last minute we decided to reach Besancon in one day – we didn’t leave until 11.30 and left a sparkling wake behind us. It was just as well we made that decision as we were being picked up for dinner in Besancon Wednesday night and Wednesday turned out to be another Bank Holiday which meant the locks were closed, so we wouldn’t have been there.

The forestry people were clearing branches from the water and pulling down precarious ones still on the trees. We then spotted what looked like a tunnel vent with a pigeon loft on the top?

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On reaching the staircase lock (there are two doubles on the water we’ve covered) the watered emptied as normal but one top paddle stayed open so, as the gates went to open to let us into the second chamber, the top chamber started to fill and they closed again … and opened … and closed. With no ropes on we were in danger of going up the very lively lock in reverse as it back filled. Eventually the bottom gates held at about 3” apart which allowed the water levels to equalise long enough for them to open. A fairly unpleasant few minutes though.

Reaching the outskirts of Besancon we turned left through the tunnel, rather than go round the loop, as we were heading for a different mooring. At the end of the tunnel is a lock which was ready and waiting for us with a green light; our destination a pontoon mooring immediately after the lock.

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More than ready to more up, we cruised in and lifted the bar ….. nothing; no lights, bells (or whistles). I climbed the ladder and found an unoccupied office with 2 telephone numbers on a note on the door. I phoned and, eventually, someone came and turned the lock on. This new mooring was much prettier than the one we’d stayed at before and free, but was just a tiny bit too close to the road for my comfort for to let Daisy out. To my delight we were moored in the one area of the ‘loop’ that I hadn’t had time to explore; so the dogs and I headed off to the parks before it got dark.

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G and I headed off to explore the new part of the city and, to our delight, found an early evening market bustling with people. We think we were in the student quarter and enjoyed a beer whilst watching the world go by before heading back for supper.

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The next day we were clear to do some shopping and find a present to take to our hosts for dinner in the evening. This was the point where we realised it was a bank holiday as everything was, apparently, closed. Walking on into the centre we were relieved to find an open florist and were able to buy a Calla plant to take with a jar of something homemade. We bought filled baguettes and sat outside a bar and ate them washed down with a beer in the warm sunshine and then I discovered that Gallerie Lafayette was open so I managed to find something rather nice to wear in the evening.

The Calla Lilley didn’t turn out to be a good choice as two thirds of the room we dined in was filled with floor to ceiling cacti – not a flower or pot plant to be seen! Am I the only one who finds giant cacti really scary? They were great hosts and we were also joined by their son and his girlfriend plus Brigitte; with whom we had dined before. Like father, like son – Emile was also a good musician and played the accordion(?) which should have been accompanied by their dog singing. As is usually the case, however, the dog refused to perform on demand!

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Marc kindly drove us back to the boat and we agreed to meet up on the following Saturday at St Vit where his band was playing – the timing would work perfectly with our loose cruising schedule and there was a reasonable mooring there.

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Baume-les-Dames to Laissey (Sat–Tues 7 to 10/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 19/11/2015

I wanted to stay a little longer but we had spent 2 weeks travelling out – allowing another 2 weeks to get back gave us 2 weeks in hand in case of bad weather or emergencies and G, quite sensibly, was getting twitchy; this amazing weather can’t hold for much longer. Besides, I had gone close enough to Switzerland to hear cow bells  (albeit by car not boat) which was one of my criteria. In that time we have travelled 110 kilometres and 35 locks; I would have sworn that we’d done far more locks than that as they really are quite vicious with very little within reach to tie on to and they have been the only blot on this otherwise perfect cruise.

I never did do more than take a drive through the town of Baume. Although pleasant enough it wasn’t a patch on previous towns and I was far more impressed with the surrounding countryside; the juxtaposition of flatland and hills made a good contrast from the steep sided valleys we had been travelling through.

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We have left another 75 kms and 40 locks to the summit and then the much shorter drop down towards Germany/Switzerland, of around 38 kms and 41 locks, to explore another day.

We’ve spotted a number of different moorings to stay at on the return trip, but Laissey was one I wished to repeat – I was looking forward to spending more time there, as was Daisy as she had been kept in for 3 nights in Baume (I forgot to mention that following her dip the other night she fell in again 2 days later at Besancon).

Once again the cruise was a comedy of errors at the locks; greeted again by 2 red lights (out of action) we were about to try and ring VNF when a man feeding his goats left them and came and sorted the lock for us – VNF man on a day off? Who knows. The next lock was also sporting 2 red lights and, suddenly, the fat controller displayed a message (in English!) saying that there had been an incident, that VNF were aware of the problem and it was being repaired – all lies. There was no answer to any of our calls to the four telephone numbers we had and it wasn’t even lunchtime. By this stage we had quite a big audience to our predicament as walkers and cyclists alike stopped in the sunshine to pontificate on the reasons behind why this funny, skinny boat was lurking outside a lock in November.

One lady took pity on us and crossed to the lock intercom for us (there was nowhere at all for us to get off of the boat). She returned with the message that they would send someone although she had no idea when (and she was French), so we thanked her and lodged our back end against the quay whilst enjoying a spot of lunch in the unseasonal 24 degrees.

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The fat controller

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They eventually turned up and we continued on through the last lock without further incident. We were travelling straight into sun so you may well be relieved that I couldn’t take many photos.

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Once moored up for a few days i was able to rectify that and managed to make my way around to the beach on the far side of the river from MR. Baxter was having a good day and managed the walk, so this photo with the pair of them looking back towards MR in the distance is one that I will treasure forever.

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Here are more!

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We trundled up into the village bar to sit outside in the sun with a Pastis and coffee (himself) and a glass of red wine for me – much to mine host’s consternation and great hilarity from the other clientele he didn’t have any red wine. This has to be the French equivalent of a pub with no beer (something I’ve also experienced). The laughter increased when I offered to fetch him a bottle of red from my English boat – poor man, he’ll probably never live it down.

We ‘phoned Marc and Evelyn to say that we would be back in Besancon on Wednesday afternoon if the offer of dinner at their place still stood – it did and we said we were at Laissey. Later we were delighted to hear a knock on the boat and find that they, plus Annie and Jean Pierre had called by for a cup of tea – yes tea!

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A great spot to watch the clouds drift down the valley between the hills and the surprisingly large bats on a feeding frenzy at dusk taking fry off of the surface of the water.

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The Valley of Ornans by car (Fri 6/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 18/11/2015

The misty start to the day, again, quickly cleared into warm sunshine so, after a quick walk with the dogs, we loaded them and a picnic into the car and headed off to the Valley of Ornans and the River La Loue which weaves along the bottom. Now I, along with most of the French people, absolutely love a picnic and there is never any shortage of delicacies to buy for one or places to eat them in. A picnic here is not confined to a summer’s day outing with the kids; it can be enjoyed by fisherman and cyclists alike at all times of the year and in any weather except torrential rain – even then we’ve spotted picnics being eaten at picnic tables under large umbrellas!

We drove through Nods to join the river at Lods (well, it amuses me!).

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We then turned up the valley to Mouthier-Haute-Pierre to find a nice spot for our lunch. Our first choice was already occupied by like minded French picnickers, but our second choice wasn’t too shabby. Sadly the cloud came down a bit and we had to add a layer of clothing.

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Following the river down we explored Vuillafans, Clerons and Ornans itself where we stopped for coffee before heading for home. We did get to hear my cow bells tinkling across the valley but weren’t able to get close enough for photos – I guess that I’d already collected more than enough photos for one day!

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A day full of beautiful villages and scenery rounded off our all too short exploration of this beautiful region of France – if you don’t know it and have a motor home or caravan, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you give it a whirl.

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Laissey to Baumes-les-Dames (Weds 4 & Thurs 5/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 17/11/2015

5 locks, 13 km

An hour before we were ready to leave an occupied hotel boat passed us on our mooring. It was funny; the people on the upper floor were eating their breakfasts and waving madly to us whilst those sleepyheads still down below in their cabins were frantically dressing and trying to cover their embarrassment as I stood at the galley window and waved to them… they weren’t expecting that!

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Signs of old factories now with collapsed roofs and burned out buildings – some strong side streams still in force on the lock approaches; there is hardly any water under us at the moment so heaven help you when the river is running a bit!

We met our first ever (in France) staircase lock, just the two chambers, and received a very enthusiastic greeting from the local dog. Once again goats abounded on the bank as we left.

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The colours had now reached their peak and we had a lovely cruise. We entered the last lock of the day thinking we were in plenty of time to moor at Baumes and have lunch. Unfortunately the locks here can be unpredictable and this last one was to be no exception; the gates opened and …..

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… that would be another lunch on the boat in the lock again. You can see how high up it is to terra firma even though the lock is full – absolutely no chance of getting the dogs off without using Sue’s boswains chair. By the time these working guys had finished their lunch, shifted their floating thingy and we had cruised into Baumes it was mid afternoon. Nearly all the moorings are for short cruisers and the only long mooring was occupied by the hotel boat whose passengers were finishing a long, leisurely lunch in the adjacent restaurant prior to embarking onto a waiting coach for a trip out – so they had the last laugh on us.

We managed to stick our nose in at the end with our bum hanging out but not (quite) blocking navigation and I went off with the dogs prior to G and I walking up to catch a train back to Besancon to recover the car.

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As I returned with the dogs the hotel boat appeared to be prepping to leave without her passengers. I spoke to one of the crew who confirmed that they were just leaving and we could have the spot – so there was a frantic moving of MR before G abandoned me and the boys to make the train by the skin of his teeth. We’d have missed it if we’d had to stop and moor and lock up properly.

Normally I would be bursting to explore a new place but the wretched cold that G had brought back with him from the UK was taking it’s toll. I just can’t shake it off and it’s making me very tired so I was quite happy to do a bit of much needed shopping on the Thursday and explore some of the lovely walking with Muttley – I wasn’t much fancying the long hard slog up into town. Graham, meanwhile, used the car to obtain oil and much needed compressed wood and stuff to burn on the fire – we cannot purchase coal anywhere in this part of France – as we were nearly down to burning the furniture although we are only lighting the fire in the evenings at the moment as it is so hot during the daytime. The central heating suffices for the mornings until the sun is up.

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A long discussion was held in the evening and G felt that we should not travel further East. It certainly has been one of, if not, the most stunning canal/rivers we’ve cruised so far and discretion seems to be the better part of valour as we don’t wish to risk being stuck in one spot until late January. We can always come back another time.

We had thought that, from here, we’d make a day trip in the car to Switzerland before we started to head back, but we’re too far away for us to visit any specific place and there didn’t seem to be much point in driving over the border and back. We scoured our tourist brochures and decided to head off to the South in search of cow bells; that is cows with bells around their necks.

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Besancon to Novillard and Laissey (Mon 2 & Tues 3/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 16/11/2015

5 locks, 22 kms

Having been forced to stay an extra day, we were disturbed Monday morning by a different capitainerie who said we shouldn’t be there as the port was closed after 31st October – it was too dangerous for pleasure boats due to the risk of flooding. My French was having a melt down morning ( I wish they wouldn’t make verbal attacks prior to coffee and breakfast) and I tried to explain that we had tried to leave but couldn’t, but would be leaving in the next hour. For my efforts, and despite the port being closed, we were charged another 20+ euros for our enforced stay the previous evening!

As we left, (one more gratuitous shot of ‘my’ bridge) the first lock had no lights on so we called a central number who gabbled away at us before hanging up and leaving us lurking for a long while. Long enough for G to go and see if he could find a more local number. This is the first canal that we’ve been on where we haven’t been able to find a definitive ‘phone number – on previous canals they’ve been very good at rescuing us quite quickly. Just as we were beginning to think they might have tagged another day off onto the previous one (they often do), someone turned up. The other option to contact rescue mission control is the intercom on the side of the eclusier huts, but physically accessing that intercom box can be quite challenging; regardless of the amount of ‘rise or fall’ of water, the structures are physically very deep to allow plenty of lee way for flooding so, even if you are at the top of the water level, you can still be a very long way down. You can see the ‘filled’ water mark on the lock wall.

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The mooring itself at Novillars was down a very steep ‘rise and fall’ ramp which was in a pretty dodgy state of repair – most of the ‘non-slip’ batons were broken or missing making ascents and descents quite tricky in the morning and evening dampness. We were actually adjacent to a truck stop advertising food and music – these are normally high quality and cheaply priced – however this one disappointed because even truck stops, it seems, have a closed season and this was it.

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The next morning we headed off to another small village stop by the name of Laissey. Throughout the cruise (still enjoying glorious sunshine) we were escorted by Heron with squeaking Kingfishers as our wingmen – I don’t know why, but they seem to be particularly noisy here and, invariably, I hear them before I see them. A similar pontoon layout here, but in considerably better repair. We moored in time to wander up and explore the village with the dogs (Baxter was having a ‘good’ day) and enjoy a late lunchtime beer.

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The locals and the goats were very friendly and I would happily have stayed in this village for awhile, but time was no longer on our side as this canal/river is closing on the 8th December so we have to turn around and re-trace our steps fairly soon. If we get heavy rain now the river will flood, the guard locks will be closed and we could well be trapped until the end of January when it officially (weather permitting) re-opens.

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Besancon (moored Thurs 29/10 to Mon 2/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 09/11/2015

On Friday morning G cycled off to fetch the car whilst I headed for the market; a very small, and fairly uninspiring, affair with mostly clothes stalls, a few ‘antique’ stalls and a couple of good fruit and veg stalls. I had thought it would be bigger and busier as the only general shops within the ‘loop’ were small Casino, a bit like Tesco Express, selling high priced ready meals and sandwiches with a few veg and chicken breasts or sausages. There were, however, plenty of delis, a wet fish shop and a couple of butchers – G could only park the car outside the loop which was too far away to use for shopping. As we’re going up (not very far) and back this canal, it would have been sensible to leave it somewhere at the beginning but we are quite close to the Swiss and German borders now and thought we might like a run out in the car at some point.

I then went walk about and met G for lunch in the rather swish red and gold place where we had to wait for a table at 12.15 but, as is usually the way, deserted by the time we left at 2.00pm

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Saturday would, I thought, be our last day so I thought I’d the shops with my credit card in the morning (whilst G was running some errands) and I reckoned I could clock up some serious damage before the 12 o’clock closing time. Sadly, G also thought I could do some serious damage and spectacularly intercepted me at Galeries Lafayette (I think he’d turned the GPS tracker on my ‘phone on again) and lured me away with the promise of coffee and cake; by the time we’d washed the cake down with beer, most of the shops had closed.

Ignoring the shops in the afternoon, I felt I had to go for the climb up to the Citadel – despite still struggling with the chest infection that G had imported from England for me. I’ve never been very good at climbs and I was seriously hot and short of breath by the time I finally reached the Citadel gates. En route I encountered a lady who was ‘dressing’ a wedding car; parked outside of the florist (off picture, right) so she could line up the chosen stems straight from florist’s bucket to the ledge at the ATM. I should point out that this street was pedestrian access only.

I was also mightily surprised to find that the practice of yarn bombing had reached France.

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Having finally reached the walls and recovered my breath I was alarmed to realise that, within the Citadel, I still had an additional distance to climb – onwards and upwards past the wildlife and time for rewards of views.

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I chose to return the direct route via millions (I never exaggerate) of scary, broken steps. By the time I recovered level-ish ground, Halloween was in full swing and the children were out doing whatever French children do. The shop selling ghoulish costumes was packed out – talk about leaving things until the last minute.

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Over the few days I developed a bit of a pash for this bridge

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The obligatory (bad) pictures of the Citadel at night and bed for us as we were leaving in the morning.

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So, bright and early on Sunday morning we were just about ready to leave when G spotted that 1/11 was a Bank Holiday, so we reverted into Sunday morning chill mode and G prepped the Sunday lunch before we went for a beer. Returning to the boat we found a French cruiser had moored at the other end of the vast pontoon for lunch and had reached the ‘somewhere between cheese and desserts course’ stage. We (I) identified ourselves as the occupants of the other boat and we were immediately invited round to join them for puds and pud wine – it would have been rude to have refused.

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After a pleasant couple of hours with Marc and Evelyn and their guests, it was suggested that we join them for a meal in the evening. So they collected us by car and we joined three different friends of theirs in a restaurant for pizzas. Afterwards we all piled back onto MR and a thoroughly good time was had by all. A brilliant day but exhausting as Marc was the only one who had a smattering of English – credit given where due; G carried the evening whilst I floundered along in his wake.

So that’s how Sunday dinner turned into Monday dinner. Nothing wrong with roast beef and Yorkshire puddings on a Monday.

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photo for Facebook

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Thoraise to Besancon (Thurs 29/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 08/11/2015

6 locks and 15km

Thursday continued as it started with glorious weather and the scenery trying to outdo itself around every bend. The length of Le Doubs is shadowed by the ‘EuroVelo 6’ cycle track which runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, travelling 3,820 kms through 9 Countries! That probably explains why the cyclists are reasonably gentle with the dogs and I – they’re too bloody knackered to go too fast or pick fights.

Do you ever wish you’d discovered things earlier in life? I try to live my life with no regrets but the Regions of Franche Comte and Jura are areas where I could have done a lot of damage when I was younger; riding, kayaking, etc., had I found it 40 years ago. So here are a few tons of photos which, for those of you who are not familiar with this neck of the woods, will give you a taste of why I have fallen in love.

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Then, when you think you’ve seen it all, the Citadel of Besancon hoves into view on top of the escarpment. The old part of Besancon is situated within a loop which is ‘turned into’ an oxbow that cuts across the neck by a tunnel – we, of course, ignored the tunnel and went round the loop to reach our mooring.

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Just before we reached our moorings – as we came level with the port for little boats – we came across an unexpected obstacle. A lock with no lights and no eclusier. Not a mention in our map book, so himself decided to put me off so that I could investigate. This was easier said than done as the towpath was closed due to repair work in progress, the side wall sloped away and the water was very shallow with large rocks in it towards the bank. The good news was that it wasn’t deep enough to get very wet, but the bad news was that I would have a very large audience.

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Having scrambled off (keeping my feet dry and my dignity reasonably intact), I discovered that I was expected to operate the lock myself!!!! This flash of enlightenment came to me when I discovered a sign which read, “self service”. Now you may well laugh, but this task hadn’t been asked of me in the last 19 months and I’d left my windlass on the boat. Usual story though; the last bugger through had left both top gates and paddles open. So I set about exercising some muscles that hadn’t been used for a long while and found that the gates were closed by using a big wheel set on a post parallel to the ground (brute strength) and the paddles by a standard windlass welded into place (like Llangollen lift bridges they, could have done with some hydraulic gearing). After a short time this attractive French lass turned up, hung up her Jacket and gave me a hand – I just hoped G was concentrating on the job in hand on keeping MR safe.

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Round the corner was our mooring for a few days. Not particularly attractive but vast, unoccupied and reasonably city secure with a rise and fall pontoon housing water, electric and fuel (another first). I say, “reasonably secure” as there was one low part of the fencing which could have been stepped across onto from the public footpath – quite inviting to young revellers. We had no problems and found the locals very friendly – no signs of ‘city’ attitude here.

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