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

  • September 2016
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for September, 2016

Clamecy and decision time

Posted by contentedsouls on 16/09/2016

We passed two lovely moorings on our way to Clamecy on Saturday, but decided to push on to Clamecy itself. If you’re going into somewhere with lots happening and paying for the privilege, it always makes sense to me to stay somewhere short the night before and then pop in in the morning; that way you get a full day for your money, but we need to get on with things a bit or we’ll get stuck in closures.


We still arrived in time to make a visit to the micro brewery that the lockie had told us about – 4 to 6 was the only time it would be opening during the time we planned to stay there. Having tracked it down it turned out to be a child’s clothes shop!!!!! The owner of said shop explained that the brewery was only open by appointment and wanted to book us in long after we’d planned to leave; no English spoken so the whole experience was somewhat confusing and not likely to attract a great deal of tourist trade. We stopped for a beer on the way back after having a look around the pretty town and met quite a few of our boaty neighbours in the process.


Sunday morning we went up to the car boot in the hope of finding  drop leaf tables for Francoise, but to no avail, and then devoured a big fat loaf with (almost) ‘proper’ bacon, eggs tomatoes and mushrooms – following which we decided to postpone Sunday ‘lunch’ until Monday as we were both stuffed. The Mutt and I headed off to follow the old log running route where some of the old locks onto l’Yonne are still in situ.


Monday I set off to do my tour around the rest of the town with my camera, but intermittent rain and cloud didn’t do anything for the pics.


Quite as lovely as I had anticipated although, I know I’m no Debbie, but even I was ready for a bit of retail therapy and, in that respect, it did disappoint. I was, however, able to buy a cucumber and tomatoes! We met some lovely Aussies, Peter and Chris, on a barge called Star of Destiny (rapidly becoming better known as star of Dentistry) who we were able to help out with a bank transfer to the UK.

We trundled off on the Tuesday morning with a hire boat behind and an ex oil rig life raft and stopped at the most glorious little spot of Lucy sur Yonne adjacent to a little park


In the evening the sun turned everything gold; including Daisy


The following day we had a drive out up into the hills to the historical town of Vezelay (another listed on, ‘the most beautiful towns in France’). Inevitably full of tourists and a couple of coaches but still pretty sensational.

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Then the icing on the cake before lunch – a little clothes shop selling Italian gear that had a sale on and I left with a pair of linen trousers and a skirt at half price. Retail requirement satisfied and Graham had a French lesson from the proprietor whilst I was rummaging.


Thursday it was onto Mailly le Chateau where we found a delightful mooring with free water, electricity and full re-cycling. Friday we drove up the embranchment to the supermarket at Vermonton and decided to stay put for the weekend.


Saturday morning we raised the thorny old subject of what to do about selling Matilda Rose – we think we should ship her back to the uk and need to get her out of Roanne (before the winter closure on the Roanne Digoin). So Sunday lunch went in the freezer and Sunday afternoon we divvied up the food and beer and G set off on mission ‘retrieve Matilda Rose’.

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Up to the summit and down the other side

Posted by contentedsouls on 09/09/2016

I’m so far behind again that I can’t remember what I’ve told you and what I haven’t. The Nivernais continues to enchant as it meanders through ever changing scenery – from very British looking tiny canal, to mini Meuse, to wide open river and craggy rock faces. We moored at the little village of Fleury where we met new boat owners, on barge Anfra, Kellie and Peter with their Collie, Pepsi. Sadly in a rush due to time constraints to get her up to Holland for some maintenance. We had an excellent Sunday lunch at the restaurant lockside too.


The next place we moored was Chatillon-en-Bazois; not too shabby under the chateau with parts of the old gardens adjacent (it also had the added bonus of a decent sized supermarket and full rubbish and re-cycling). Baxter was quite happy chilling out the back – his favourite place on the barge now as long as it’s not in full sun.


On our final push up to the summit pound we encountered several staircase locks. In the doubles they filled both chambers from the top – only closing the middle gates after you moved into the top chamber. I found crossing the cill between the two chambers quite disconcerting.


There was also one 3 chamber staircase which, much to my relief, was operated in standard fashion

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After that we made our way, uneventfully, up to the summit pound at Etang de Baye, encountering very little traffic

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We were still experiencing baking temperatures (and still are) and our mooring next to the 25 acre reservoir which feeds the Nivernais was most welcome – not only for the breeze, but also for the swimming. We were also delighted to meet up with our blog follower Paula (who you will often see comment on here) and husband Phil from wide beam narrowboat Den Within Willows. We had a lovely evening; made all the better by knowing that we would catch up with them further on where they were moored at Chitry. Had a fabulous meal there at La Marin – I have no idea how they can produce that quantity and quality of food for the money.


Leaving Baye we were in for a longish day; 3 tunnels, 16 locks, but only 8 kms. With nowhere to moor between the locks, the eclusiers leave you in a lock at lunchtime – by sheer good luck, our lunchtime ‘lock of the day’ happened to be outside a quirky little bar that provided us with beer and crepes; except the crepes were delicious, fat, proper pancakes.


Our mooring at Sardy was newly constructed and very long, but occupied only by us, one motorhome, two horses and a man with a (cara)van. The village itself was full of art work. This stretch down from the summit is very arty farty and potters and artists abound.


From there it was on to Chitry les Mines where we met up with Paula and Phil again, plus some other rather interesting individuals for drinks. Bit of a party place is Chitry – what happens in Chitry, stays in Chitry (hmm .. didn’t Debs and Kevin moor there last winter?).

Paula and Phil’s  boat outside the little cafe there.


This really is a pretty little canal and, with it’s lift bridges, very reminiscent of the Llangollen in some ways – the big difference is that you don’t have to wind like a maniac – you just stand and look cool with your finger on the button!

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As we were approaching our mooring for the night at Cuzy, we spotted this monster in our rear view mirror – it’s only able to get under the bridges as it has no fixed wheelhouse. Unfortunately, the Germans in the hire boat had just pulled pins and were leaving for the bridge ‘ole – I shouldn’t laugh really, but they were like rabbits frozen in the headlights. The owners of the peniche were the delightful Giles and Sabrina and G was able to re-unite them with their car later in the day; we’ve been bumping into them (not literally as they are much bigger than us) ever since.


We had planned to eat at the, thoroughly recommended, hotel restaurant behind the hire boat but it had been closed for over a year. Instead we found a delightful little bar up in the village; 4 courses and a glass and a half of wine each for 12 euros – you really can’t go wrong with these ‘workmen’s lunches’. Whilst there was a pretty patio out the back we elected to eat in the main bar and engage in a bit of banter with the locals and a Dutch couple cycling with their dog in the basket on the bike.


I find I keep using the word quirky and having to change it to something different; but ‘quirky’ seems to sum up not only the canal, but also the people we are meeting along the way.

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