Chevroches, Canal du Nivernais

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Summer's End - from Dole to St Jean de Losne

St Jean de Losne
 The journey has ended for this year. We are back in the marina at St Jean de Losne and busy preparing L'Avenir for her long, northern winter and ourselves for our long flight to the southern summer. As ever, we find ourselves wondering at our surprise that this moment has arrived. Surely after 5 summers afloat we should have learned that time really does fly when you're enjoying yourself and the closer you are to the end the quicker it speeds by.
Summer virtually threw its hand in a couple of weeks ago. We had intended staying at Auxonne for only one night but ended up tied to the pontoon there for 4 days of torrential rain and high winds. There seemed to be as much water falling out of the sky as there was running beneath us. At least we had the luxury of staying put. We felt admiration (and sympathy) for those hirers on their expensive week's boating holidays forced to battle on, clad in sou' westers and oilskins in conditions more North Sea than lazy French river.  Not quite the relaxing autumn break portrayed in the brochure.
As soon as the rain let up we moved on downstream and turned up the Canal du Rhone au Rhin which follows the River Doubs. We've been up and down this waterway several times but had never seen it so full of water. There can be quite a strong current running on this navigation at times and in fact it was closed for several days from Dole onwards after all the rain. We were going only as far as Dole however.
 Dole, once the capital of Comte, is a pretty medieval town with winding streets, lots of designer clothes boutiques and an interesting underground lavoir (wash house).
 It is a busy hireboat base and even at the best of times has a strong current running. This combination makes for an entertaining spectacle for the locals as they watch the antics of people attempting to moor their boats. Fortunately for us the port was fairly quiet when we arrived and so there was plenty of room for manouevre. It filled up over the next couple of days though and we saw some fairly close calls. As ever, we met up with people we'd seen earlier in the season and caught up on their adventures and met new boaters whom we hope to see again in the future. I think I've said before that it often amazes me that people can visit the exactly the same places and have such differing perceptions. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Last lock of the year from the canal du Rhone au Rhin onto the River Saone
 On our arrival in St Jean de Losne, the sun came out for a last glorious couple of days so we stopped on the quay on the river, always a busy meeting place, and did some boat washing and painting jobs. Then, a stop at the fuel berth to top up the tanks and round the corner into the marina where we discover that we have Australians for neighbours. There are a lot of Aussies in Europe this year thanks to the good (for once) exchange rate.
For those who like statistics here are some :
277 engine hours
632 ltres of fuel
545 locks (good grief! You'd have thought I'd have lost some weight)
?? Km - sorry I haven't worked that out yet. We went a long way this year, more than we originally anticipated. We really ought to plan a bit better. Actually making a plan at all would be a good idea.
Finally, we'd like to say thank you to those of you who visited us, those who made us welcome in their homes both on land and water and all of you who have taken the time to follow our trip on the blog. We'll be back before you know it!

'on the steps' at St Jean de Losne