Sunday morning remained wet so we hung about a bit and finally set orf around 11am – later than intended but decided we probably wouldn’t go as far as planned. However, there aren’t many mooring places between Pont de Vaux and Chalons-sur-Saone so we just kept going!
So we set out very carefully from Pont de Vaux as the 3km canal linking to the Saone is well-known for catching & damaging props! So gently did it. There is a small lock at the entrance to the Saone with pontoons to wait at whilst preparing the lock. Quite difficult to locate as the pontoon was completely under water – Adrian’s wellies were only just high enough to wade through to the bank!
After all the rain we’ve been having the Saone was moving pretty fast and, as we were going upstream, it gave the engine a jolly good work out. We’d had to have work done on the transmission overwinter – fluid leak probably caused by the rope getting wrapped around the prop last year! Expensive!
Boats going downstream seemed to fly by – when we went down in October it took us 6 engine hours whereas it took 8 engine hrs coming upstream yesterday.
And that set the scene for the river – high and fast – with pretty large crocodiles ready to catch the unwary, we kept a good look out. We reached Chalons-sur-Saone just before 7pm – nearly 50kms – so that was pretty good going. We had thought we could moor against the wall just outside the port, but that wasn’t possible because it was well underwater. Luckily the nice mooring-geezer-with-the-ponytail (I’m sure those of you who have been to Chalons in the last few years will recognise who I mean) let us moor on the waiting pontoon. This morning the water was even higher and we could see the amount of debris that is collecting in the port.
We were really pretty tired by the time we had moored up and decided to head for the Rue de Strasbourg and the restaurants. There is a fish restaurant that we have tried to visit over the last few years but it is always closed when we are there. But it was open and we had a very nice menu du jour pour La Fete des Meres. So I got a second Mother’s Day! Sue (kiwi) had told me she was wearing her french pearls in honour of the day, so in true sisterly fashion I did the same!
One has to dress for the occasion after all – standards, my darlings, standards….
Then back to the boat for an early night
Monday 30th May
This morning we awoke early and decided to get on with the day. We walked up to the train station and caught the 7.35am to Fleurville to collect the car. We were back at the boat by 10.00am having visited M LeClerc’s emporium en route to replenish our cupboards! We set off about 11.00am heading for Fragnes at the beginning of the Canal du Centre. Bad timing at the lock onto the Centre meant we had to wait an hour in order to get through but we arrived at Fragnes in time for Adrian to cycle back down to Chalons to collect the car. We have decided to leapfrog the car again this year which is a bit of a pain, but necessary given that we don’t know when we will have to return home for the apartment buying process.
There are big probelms in France at present – fuel shortages and strikes impending. This is all due to changes proposed to employment legislation that would make it easier for employers to ‘hire & fire’ workers. At present this is very difficult so that many small firms are just not employing people because they fear they will not be able to fire them if there are problems. The tanker drivers and the train drivers are taking action. Some petrol stations have no petrol available (luckily my new car is diesel which seems to be more available) and at those that have the price has jumped by around 30 cents a litre. Apparently Martin and David were turned away when they went to buy diesel in fuel cans for the boat – stock piling is not viewed well! They had to buy at a port, which is always very high price, to avoid confrontation.
And many trains will be on 3 day strike from Wednesday.
So all is not rosy on the canals this year.