We are certainly taking our time this year – what with one thing and another!
We left Cercy La Tour and locked up to Pannecot with Tony and Sue on Waimanu. The two boats together made things a little tight in the locks, as they are only 30 metres long on the Nivernais. But we made sure that the lock keepers were aware and that they took things slowly. So far they have!
At Pannecot we took the opportunity to drive up to the spa town of St Honore-les-Bains. Sue has a particular interest in spa towns so was keen to visit. Unfortunately it was Sunday and everything was closed. We had the impression of a once thriving, sedate spa town that is dying on its feet. The once beautiful gardens were untended, the buildings no longer kept up. Even the Casino was sad!
My understanding is that the French health system used to recognize the benefits of ‘a cure’ and would pay for individuals to go to spa towns for assessment, prescription and treatment. No longer, apparently. So towns like St Honore-les-Bains are dying. Interestingly enough we haven’t heard that the same thing is happening further south – Adrian’s friends Rob & Maggie run a very busy gites business in Barbotan-les-Thermes, another spa town- it really was thriving when we were last there.
The spa building itself is neo classical in style and has mosaic tiled entrance all in art nouveau style. But closed. I had a good look through the doors at the floor!
Enticing swimming pool. But closed.
We managed to look around the little chapel at the spa and came across various ‘maison overtes’ – a kind of car boot sale but scattered throughout the town in front of individual houses. At one we saw 13 bidets lined up! Apparently the house had been a small hotel, each room having its own bidet! Wouldn’t fancy emptying that lot every morning!
We had a quiet couple of days at Pannecot in the company of Tony and Sue and an American couple – Don & Sam. We tried the little local restaurant – simple but fine.
Then onwards to Chatillon-en-Bazois. Nice little port with some paid and some free moorings. Both Waimanu and Piedaleau managed to secure free moorings with electricity! Bonus. I have fond memories of Chatillon-en-Bazois and a watercolour painted by Pete Shipley of Misty Morning in front of the chateau. It has pride of place on Piedaleau.
We had been keeping in touch with Bernadette, Henk, Annie and Tony on the Bernadette. Unfortunately Henk had an accident, came off his bike quite dramatically and cracked a couple of ribs. Then we heard the Tony had had a contretemps with a front locker hatch and gashed his shin badly. A lock keeper’s girlfriend drove him to hospital in Auxerre where he had superb treatment, including 22 stitches. Not good. We had been hoping to meet up with them all so on Tuesday Adrian and I drove to Vermenton to meet them. We stayed at Mark & Alison’s B & B – well known to boaters in the area and good friends of Muzz and Gail. We were made most welcome – quaint, rambling old house with interesting, comfortable rooms. In fact we stayed 2 nights and took Annie and Tony out on Weds and Thurs while Henk and Bernadette tidied, packed and prepared to leave the Bernadette for several weeks.
Tuesday evening we went to the Auberge de l’Esperance (not the Auberge Desperation as per Bernadette’s text – amazing how predictive text can change meaning!). Another local, straightforward restaurant altho we did giggle at their english translation – the chef’s recommendation for the plat du jour promised a ‘heart attack’!
On Wednesday while Henk & Bernadette were slaving away we popped up to visit Chablis. Of course we had a little degustation and bought a few bottles. The lady in the cave was a little snotty at first but soon warmed to us when we spoke in French and assured her that we were anti – brexit. We have been asked several times but I shall not comment further although we are watching the news unfurl with interest.
Learnt that Chablis is only Chardonnay grapes.
We had lunch all together in a little bistrot in Vermenton and then a ‘survivors’ supper’ in the courtyard at the B & B once Henk and Bern had managed to put their cover on the boat.
Thursday saw us take Henk & Bern to the train station at Auxerre and then take a trip to Irancy with Tony & Annie. A nurse at the hospital had told them that they should go to the restaurant – Le Soufflot – at Irancy. Just happens to be one of our favourites, having discovered it last year with Sue and David. So we completed Tony’s prescription and Adrian was delighted to have a bottle of M Mesquin’s wine. Unfortunately we were told that Monsieur had retired and no more bottles were available to buy. His little bottom lip quivered! Then we headed back to Chatillon en Bazois and home to Piedaleau.
A super few days and we were so pleased to catch up with the aussie contingent.
But then things turned a little sour – I developed an infection, then had a horrid reaction to the antibiotics prescribed by GP here. Spent most of Friday, Saturday and Sunday in bed! Managed to watch some tennis though! But then the enforced idleness has caused a recurrence of my hip / back problem. How’s your luck! So we remain in Chatillon for the next few days I think, trying to balance medication for back and keep infection at bay. But loving the tennis!
Amazing what enforced idleness causes – excitement gleaned from watching other boats come into moor and try to link up to the somewhat inadequate free electricity supply – Adrian has become particularly possessive; nicknames are given to other boats eg ‘red arse’, ‘fat man on thin boat’ (narrow boaters, of course) etc. The joys! behind us is a wooden boat which we saw in Chitry last year. It is now floating – it wasn’t then – even though the bilge pump cuts in regularly to keep it so! The German owner was living in a shed / tent behind the Capitainnerie at Chitry but he is now on board with his lady love! She looks quite normal so we cannot understand why she is with him. Yesterday he startled Adrian by suddenly jumping into the water saying that it is too warm here for a German! Takes all sorts I suppose…..