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

  • January 2016
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Melay sur Loire–cigogne & sanglier

Posted by contentedsouls on 16/01/2016

When we arrived at Melay the lovely Nicolas (Frenchman over-wintering next boat but one) came and took our ropes for us and stayed to chat. After a while we suggested he came in for coffee and we all chatted in a mixture of French and English whilst I prepped the dinner and wrote and published the last blog. Both kept saying that they needed to get on with some work but neither moved. I went out with Muttley for his long walk and they were still sat nattering when I came back, so I ushered them both out of the door whereby they started nattering with the chap who was fishing behind the boat for another 30 minutes – and they say women can talk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have seen a fair bit of Nicolas over the last few days and he has been a good friend to us. On Thursday morning he came round with another lead and we are now, also, plugged into the village electricity supply – only in France!


Nattering over coffee, it transpired that he is fitting out his boat with two en-suite guestrooms to let in the summer, so was as pleased to improve his English as we are our French – a happily symbiotic relationship. Throughout long conversations with him, both G and I keep spouting, “it’s on the other boat” – so much so that I’m thinking of having T-shirts printed with that as a slogan and Nicolas suggested we change Francoise name to “The Other Boat” – the plaisancier’s equivalent of, “my other car’s a Porsche”. The problem opportunity is that we never thought that we would set off cruising in Francoise until after we had taken MR to Roanne and recovered the rest of our ‘stuff’. We only took from MR enough stuff to last us for 5/6 weeks in a port and we don’t have with us a number of critical items; the most important of which being  our water filtration system and, of course, the water is switched off for the winter at all the little halte fluvial. Due to this we’re not sure how long we will be able to stay out for, but we’ll see – we have to go back to Roanne to park Francoise and get the car in order to fetch MR down as soon as the Saone subsides anyway; that has to be our priority but, in the interim, we are enjoying our jolly.

Thursday was grey and intermittently raining but I walked into the village anyway (my wet weather gear is on the other boat) and was glad I did when I realised that the flock of birds in the field were Storks – Cigogne in French. Amazing.


I also spotted my first ever French style – not useable though due to an abundance of barbed wire strands


The village itself was charming, as were the people, but I thought I’d stepped back into a mid December time warp – everywhere was in it’s full Christmas glory – not just the street lights and decorations, but the village supermarket had one aisle dedicated to Christmas confectionary and general consumables (not on sale). I asked Nicolas why this was and he just shrugged and said there was no particular time to remove them. The crib amused me as the sheep had been replaced with Wild Boar – Sanglier – you can just make out their white tusks!


Friday morning was market day and dawned (yes, I did see the sunrise) bright and sunny so I was able to persuade both G and Baxter to walk in with Muttley and I. The market itself consisted of 3 comprehensive stalls; cheese, meat and fruit and veg – with a boulangerie (and the little supermarket) in the village we had everything we needed without the tat. The cheese stall was something else and we realised that we had missed out when we saw people handing over empty jam jars,  Tupperware containers and the like. These were being filled and returned with local crème fraiche, yoghurt, cream cheese and goodness knows what else – oh well, the cheeses we bought were delicious and we’ll know when we come back through.


With enough goodies to re-stock our pantry (I love my pantry), we retired to the busy little bar where we met up with Nicolas for coffee and some good natured banter with the locals. Perfik! I love this little place and it’s friendly inhabitants and can definitely see the attraction of staying here for the winter with free mooring and free electric!

We should, of course, have left by now but the weather forecast has been predicting heavy minus figures and, now we have electric, we thought it might be sensible to stay put for the week-end and see what happens (this canal is closed Sundays). No contest between being able to use the electric blanket and a hot water bottle; I expect you’ve guessed where our winter duvet is – yep, on the other boat. Daisy likes to get as close to the blanket as possible too and I’m sure Baxter is delighted that Mary kindly finished his new PJs before we left as it has, for the first time today, turned bitter – or maybe we’re just not used to it anymore.


We tried to book a man in a van to do the 3 locks for us on Monday but couldn’t get an answer from any of them – Nicolas had no better luck than us when he tried but had to go out on his moped for something and stopped by at our next mooring and obtained three more telephone numbers from the boaters there for us to try – the last of the three numbers was answered and we (think we are) good to leave on Monday morning despite the weather.


A few more pictures of the ‘room to let’ boat behind us (as promised to Kevin Too) including their tariff if you fancy a short break. I love that their summer shade canopy is currently keeping their log pile dry.


2 Responses to “Melay sur Loire–cigogne & sanglier”

  1. andywindy said

    So that’s what I’m paying a fortune to EDF for on my Key Meter, the cost of a load of freeloading bloomin boaters! Well done you, I noticed from the photo that least this time the cable was not tied in a knot and suspended from bean poles though otherwise it does seem rough and ready!
    And if you’re intimating that us fellas talk more than you Girls, then I must admit guilt to that.
    Hope you can retrieve and install your water system soon, the extra flexibility that gives you must be a real boon in new waters.


    • Thank you for your contribution to our electric – the government has postponed our winter fuel allowance along with my pension so all donations gratefully received! The water filtration system is essential for winter cruising here – more on that in the next blog as our plans are changing again!


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