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

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

Paray-le-Monial to Digoin and Pont le Beaune

Posted by contentedsouls on 14/02/2016

3 locks, 13 kms, 3 1/2 hours

4 locks, 9 kms, 2 1/2 hours

Leaving the lovely Paray on Sunday morning my crewing services were not required, so I assumed the position of galley slave; prepping the veg for Sunday ‘lunch’ which G would cook later and rustling up a big pot of turkey tagine for dinners later in the week. After himself had pulled into the first lock of the day I eventually realised that we had only gone down two foot and then stopped – all I could see out of the galley window was leaves, funny time of year for this problem.


When we realised that it wasn’t leaves stopping the lock emptying, G called VNF (who were booked for 10 am and should have been in attendance). No answer from the VNF; fairly predictable for a Sunday. He tried the intercom on the lock hut wall – no answer. So that was us stuffed and stuck, a bit like the Grand Old Duke of York, neither up nor down.

As we were discussing our impending night in the lock, the inhabitant of the old lock cottage arrived in his car and nodded to me. I, “bonjour” ed him and said that the lock was broken and he disappeared indoors with his bread. After about 5 minutes he came back out again and spoke to G and then started re-filling the lock, then he cleared a micro-switch on the top gate and down we went; it is obviously a common occurrence as he knew exactly what the problem was. We caught up with ‘our’ VNF man at our 3rd, and last, lock of the day – he was drinking coffee round his friend’s house. I would like to think that, eventually, he might have come looking for us to see if there was a problem but I’m not sure he would. When G told him that we’d been stuck in the first lock for over 40 minutes and that we’d been rescued by the lock cottage resident, he just shrugged in a ‘you are here now’ way.

I imagined Digoin to be a big town (given that it’s the Roanne Digoin canal), but it’s a funny little place – not exactly heaving with life.

After mooring up we set off with the dogs for a pint but, as it was 2pm, we didn’t hold out much hope. We actually found a bar cum bookies open for the afternoon – most of the betting was on the trotting races which I rather like; can you imagine being allowed to sit drinking and gambling a Sunday afternoon away in the UK.


Five minutes before we were due to leave for Pont le Beaune on Monday morning the weather, very suddenly, turned vicious on us with strong, gusting wind. As we immediately needed to cross over the exposed aqueduct over the River Loire, I wasn’t very impressed and thought we should stay put – G decided to set off and see how bad it was; pulling over after the aqueduct and first lock if necessary. We turned off of the Canal du Centre and onto the L’ateral a la Loire and then, the final leg, onto the Roanne Digoin. Once we turned onto the Roanne Digoin Canal our lockie was the happiest and most helpful chappie you could wish for, despite the foul weather. We shared the lock with a coypu who swam passed me and then climbed up into the lock gate. The French eat them and they taste like rabbit apparently (unless I was having my leg pulled). Once at the top, our lockie was quite happy to wait whilst we filled with water and we discussed the problem of the strong wind with him – he then made sure the rest of the locks were ready and waiting with a gate open (only needing one gate again of course) so that we could power straight in.


You can see how strong the wind was – this is the activator cord which has to be caught and pulled; fortunately, after the first lock, the lockie over-rode the system and set the locks. Some of these locks were quite deep and all were manually activated – he sorted our ropes and made sure our ride was gentle although, for some reason, always opened the top gate for us to leave on the opposite side from where the boat was!


We were both very relieved to moor up for the night – we had intended to travel on a bit further after the last lock so that we could have a later start in the morning, but we’d had enough. A perfectly adequate mooring, but Daisy had to stay in and there was absolutely nowhere within Baxter’s limited walking range that I could let him off the lead.


5 Responses to “Paray-le-Monial to Digoin and Pont le Beaune”

  1. Kevin TOO said

    Well I’ll let you make your own mind up on the contents of this link (but look at the date before you decide) LOL


  2. I loved the coypu. We were told that ours in the Port of Roanne were hibernating, so do they or don’t they?


    • It doesn’t appear that they have, in general, hibernated Sally; given the one in the lock and families of them along the Roanne Digoin both on this trip and our little cruise on Francoise.
      Given Kevin Too’s comments, I hope the locals haven’t eaten them. Like you, I enjoyed their company and always looked out for them with an apple at dusk.Thanks for another great photo.


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