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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Montachanin to Blanzy. Blanzy to Genelard

Posted by contentedsouls on 07/02/2016

7 locks, 9 kms, 2 1/2 hours

8 locks, 20 kms, 3 lift bridges, 5 hours

We stayed put the next day and it peed with rain which I was quite pleased about; it meant I wasn’t under pressure to do very much – a shame in a way though as there was a lovely lake to walk round. Neither I nor the dogs are very keen on walking in the rain but I did get a short walk there before we left in the morning.

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Heading off downhill was going to be a doddle as the ‘start posts’ would be to the hand of the helm (at the rear of the lock) and would be nice dry (not manky) cords above ground. They would also be quick if they emptied at the same speed as they filled. Yeah, yeah! Here’s a picture of the manky cords that you have to yank on the way up – hard to tell blue cord from red.

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1st lock the start post was right up the front, at the 2nd lock the start post was in the right place but the lock was on double red lights so we were joined by a lockie, at the 3rd lock we were joined by a second lockie. All the locks emptied at a snail’s pace but were perfectly manageable single handed – leaving one of us free to do something useful – although we had a double lockie escort all the way down. Crazy. Lock 6 had broken down so they did provide a purpose in the end. Moored at Blanzy we had to keep Daisy in overnight and it was a long walk to find somewhere to let Muttley off lead – the towpath all the way along this stretch has been replaced by a busy little road. G heroically went off on the electric bike and fetched coal blocks from the Brico at Monceau-les-Mines; how he lifted his rucksack, let alone cycled with it on his back, I’ll never know.

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On leaving Blanzy we picked up a surfeit of VNF guys for the 2 locks down into Monceau where we encountered the first of three lift bridges with a pull cord lurking above the water – pulling it did us no good as the lights on the bridge were out. We lurked mid stream waiting for our VNF escort to turn up. They didn’t turn up. We ‘phoned all the numbers but, usual story, no-one answered (it wasn’t lunchtime). After nearly an hour, someone answered the phone and gabbled at us incomprehensively. Around 10 minutes after that a green light went on (no-one around) and up went the bridge, followed by the other two bridges at 10 minute intervals – it would seem that God is not the only one who moves in mysterious ways!

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After that wasted hour we made good time and I was surprised how twisty the canal became along this stretch although the road barrier running all the way alongside made a good sat nav with chevron signs marking the really tight bends – stops you nodding off though; especially when it got a bit blustery too. The run in to Genelard goes through a deep cut which saves you a lock or 3 and provides good dog walking, a nice spot with a big history and we decided to take a day off there.

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We awoke in the morning to heavy rain, but decided to go into town in search of lunch and some bits and bobs from the epicerie. We had a choice of 2 establishments – one of which was a non-starter as it’s offering of the day was andouillettes (can’t spell it} and frites. For those of you who have not yet experienced the horrors of these little monsters they are tripe sausages  ….. yuk, yuk and thrice yuk!

The other option was busy, always a good sign, and we opted for the three course 13 euro menu with coffee and very good it was too. I rather like not having to choose my food (as long as it’s not tripe sausages) and, let’s face it, you don’t get a choice when you go to a friend’s house for dinner – you know it’s going to be fresh and the price is amazing. At the end of our meal we started chatting to a very elegant family; Joanne, Pierre and their son William, they run a local Estate Agency business and, on the spur of the moment, I invited William to come and see what a (filthy and untidy) narrowboat looked like – I’d have killed G if he had suggested it! Joanne then picked us up in the evening and drove us back to her lovely home which, originally, was a tannery on the upper floor and had been converted to a beautiful light and airy home situated between the River Bourbance (bottom of garden) and the Canal (front of the house). All of the previous French houses we’ve visited have consisted of small, dark rooms. I was fascinated to learn about house buying in France and that during the period of sale between (their equivalent of) exchange and completion, the Marie has a right to purchase the property over and above the potential purchaser – can you imagine agreeing to the purchase of a house and then your MP saying, “no you can’t buy it, I want it”. In fairness, Joanne says it’s only happened to a client of hers once in 15 years. We drank Champagne and Joanne sent us home with the rest of the bottle as she was going out to dinner later. Another lovely day.

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8 Responses to “Montachanin to Blanzy. Blanzy to Genelard”

  1. Kevin TOO said

    Alors, combien de pierres sont là?
    Autant que la Grande Muraille de Macclesfield peut-être?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. andywindy said

    Ok Kevin, that’s going to be a lot of stones to reach Macclesfield! (Wonderful thing Google Translate).
    I do like the stencilled cut outs on that barrier though, and the “Barge on the ‘Bank” is rather special too. ( I know it’s not a barge and I know it’s an embankment but it don’t scan the same, do it!)
    There’s NO WAY I’d get my Lady Wife to travel under those lifting bridges, and I must admit thy do look rather heavy, good job you’ve got a spare boat then!

    Like

    • Why does your Lady Wife have a problem with travelling under lift bridges. As for spare boats – leave fate alone please!

      Liked by 1 person

      • andywindy said

        My dear wife was refusing to cross the Channel for years, stating that the ferries were top heavy and didn’t look safe. The rest of the family wound her up about this for a long time until the Pride of Zebrugge fell over after the doors were left open… bad enough to sink but to fall over as well !
        Its the same for going under moving heavy metal objects, and I for one am not going to argue.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Does that rule out the Channel Tunnel too?

        Liked by 1 person

      • andywindy said

        Funnily enough no Jill She likes the tunnel, first time we went through was on a coach trip and we’d just left Folkstone and we decided that the last Tea was one too many… we now have the distinction of having had a pee under the channel on a train having walked to the front of the train from the coach! A case I think of Bladder over fear or Body over Mind maybe. Anyhow the tunnel is now not a problem. After being married for almost 40 Years and having had 3 Daughters I no longer try to analyse the Female Psyche, just being occasionally astounded by it is enough!

        Like

      • Probably very wise – it’s lovely that she still leaves you astounded after all that time!

        Like

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