France 2017, Seine, (Day 29)

Les Andelys

Thursday, 31.08.2017

lots of km

Today we face the last day of our holidays, save the trip home. Thus we are committed to enjoy it. The weather helps and yesterdays rain is forgotten. First stop is the Château Gaillard overlooking Les Andelys and the surrounding area. It was build in just two years from 1196 by Richard the Lionhardt, who at the time was not only King of England, but also Duke of Normandy.  The castle has a long and very interesting history. As so often Wikipedia is a good start.

It is a mighty fine castle.

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And it offers some fine views over the Seine valley.

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Spot ARGO.
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There is a second castle on the list, alas a much posher one. The Château de La Roche-Guyon  has got a history full of changes. Started at the same time as Château Gaillard it didn’t end up as ruin, but rather as a nice example of a proper representative chateau of the Ancien Regime. With a few interesting quirks. This has to do with the fact, that the castle is build half way into the cliff side.

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On top of the cliff you can see the old keep. The remains of the original castle.

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But before we get to that, a few pictures of the interior.
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In order to get up to the keep you have to climb several steep flights of stairs, that have been hewn into the rock.
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Halfway up they added a pigeonry right into the rock. Just because they could.
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Finally reaching the top of the keep, commanding views over the Seine valley open up.
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Back down to the valley floor, we tend to the chateau’s garden.
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The garden also offers some nice boat spotting opportunities.
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Next stop are the 4 ecluses near Gaillon. As the name suggests, these are 4 parallel locks of various sizes, from Freycinet size to outright huge.
Unfortunately the site is quiet inaccessible. And the pictures not great.
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After the cultural part, its back to the chores and we go shopping. Wine, good flour and other things that are hard to get or very expensive in Ireland. We like to believe that the holiday pays for itself, if only we drink enough cheap wine over the winter. You can’t see a flaw? We neither.

Back to the camp  for a swim in the pool and then off to town for a special treat. We have booked a table at the Les Saveurs du Liban et de l’Orient. A Lebanese restaurant, with Meze being a speciality. Truly amazing, spectacular food, great chef. Cosy restaurant. Go there.

And that’s really it. Next morning we hitch up the boat and get on the way to the ferry at Cherbourg.  We park the boat at the ferry harbour and do a little detour to the fishing village of Barfleur. Beautiful spot.

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A short spin to the beach.
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And that’s really it . Thanks for bearing with me.  The plan for 2018 includes a revisit of the Loire as well as the Pyrenees.  Please stay all tuned and have a great summer.

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France 2017, Seine, (Day 28)

Les Andelys

Wednesday, 30.08.2017

lots of km

Today it is sightseeing with the help of the car. First stop on a rather dull day is Vernon.
Its main fame seems to be the remains of the medieval bridge. On top of the bridge a row of flour mills was housed. Apparently the vibration of the works made the bridge collapse.

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Nearby we find a pimp my vintage car place. The lad of course, is well delighted.

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Then it was off to the mayor  tourist attraction around here, and time to fall for this years tourist trap, which we have carefully avoided so far.

The famous house and garden of the rather famous Claude Monet in Giverny.  Between the Three of us we had to pay more than a weeks worth on Petrol, just to get in.  You get to see a museum with some guy on exhibition with a name I cannot remember. After that you get to see his garden, the house and the famous Lilly pond. And 83 busloadsselfie sticks.
Do go to Giverny, there is one of the most fantastic places you possibly dream up. But avoid the Monet thing like hell.
Just a few pictures for reference.

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And a bloke weeding the famous pond.

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Walking back to the car we notice a wee little sign reading “Musée de Mécanique Naturelle”. This slightly strange combination of words instils the notion, that it is either something crazy esoteric or something really unique.
The proprietor is a quintessential lively French Gentleman, fallen out of a Louis de Funes movie. He has collected all kinds of old machinery, steam engines, petrol driven washing machines, outboards, a machine that fully automatically produces clogs, since over a century.
And all works from the biggest to smallest engine.

No entrance fee (also we left a good donation) and we are exclusively shown around for about an hour. Nerd heaven.

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Eventually he susses out that we are from Britain (in a very wide sense of the word) and we have to follow him to his banger of a car. He delivers us to the local park, were volunteers are just erecting the infrastructure for a steam rally coming up on the weekend. He we are introduced to the Yorkshireman and his partner. They have come all the way from Anson with their truck, in order to represent the Anson Engine Museum, with a restored Blackstone stationary engine. Not long after, I am pressed into installing the lighting in the beer tent. So we all have a jolly afternoon. But unfortunately we can’t make it for the actual steam rally.

Back to the camp, we go an a stroll along the river and in order to suss out an eatery for our last holiday tomorrow.

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France 2017, Seine, (Day 27)

St-Jean-de-Losne – Les Andelys

Tuesday, 29.08.2017

lots of km

 

Today we are making our first move back towards Ireland. But its not all that grim with still a few holidays left. In keeping with tradition I have booked three nights on a campsite.  But this time not by the seaside (the Île-de-Normoutier trauma still sticks from last year) but on the Seine half way between Paris and Rouen. But first there is the small matter of getting there.
We get up at six in the morning to make the most of the day and to avoid the biggest heat.

Getting the boat onto the trailer is a bit of a problem. The slipways in St-Jean is on a weird angle to the water and we take several attempts to get the boat sorted. Still it might be quite handy for a trip on the Saône. There is campsite just next door and the railway station makes for easy one-way trips. I forgot to  take pictures. Thus here is one from Google.

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Having had the inner city traffic incident in Paris, we decide to give the French capital a wide berth and instead take a left onto the A19 across to Orleans. This really would not deserve a mention, hadn’t we not come across this:

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“What is this?”, you might not ask. Rather obviously not waterway related. And in fact I had no idea, but was immediately electrified, that this must be something weird. A straight line of pillars all the way to the horizon in either direction. With just a short piece hacked out rather crudely for the motorway to pass. Finding the location on Google maps reveals it has been the test track for the Aerotrain. A 1960s hovertrain, propelled by a jet engine. Madness, from a past with a brighter future, a on quite a grand scale. Wikipedia sheds some light on it. There are also several interesting videos on Youtube.  Check it out.

After more hot and along some D roads, still avoiding Paris, we finally make it to Les Andelys. More specifically to the Camping de l’Ile des 3 Rois. Not too bad for a camp site, nothing too special either. What really annoys me: The camping is on a Seine island. Ideal for boat spotting you would think. But they went to a great length to have a five meter high hedge around the whole camp. Thus you can hear all the shipping going on, but cannot see nothing.

Anyway the real attraction of the place is not the camp site but the castle overlooking it. Château Gaillard was found by Richard Lionheart. It has changed hand many times and also played a crucial role in the Hundred Year War. And it was not just any odd castle. It was of really massive scale.Today it definitely enhances the scenery.

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We will come back again to give it a closer inspection. But for now, after a very long day on the road we tread ourselves to a meal at tfhe Restaurant Mistral in the village. Great food. Back to the camp. Early bed.

France 2017, Saône, (Day 26)

St-Jean-de-Losne (and bejond)

Monday, 28.08.2017

lots of km

Today the lad and myself set off to retrieve the car and trailer from Corre. We get up less bright but very early to catch the train from St-Jean to Dijon.
Its a lovely walk along the river to the train station.

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The TER regional train arrives in time, we hop on and soon we reached Dijon. Definitely a place that would justify a visit. But we have only minutes to spare to change to the TGV to Besançon. And what an amazing train that is. 380 clicks and no rattle nor shake. Much too soon we reach Besançon Franche-Comté. A brand new train station in the middle of nowhere, built just for the TGV. A very interesting building, but again we have to rush to catch the bus to Vesoul. This is a much more rustic affair. But after a long winded trip through the French countryside the bus arrives at Vesoul.

Here we have to spend almost 3 hours to wait for the bus to Jussey-Gare. To cut the short story even shorter: There is not much wrong with Vesoul. Mostly because there isn’t much. After about 5 minutes we have walked through the town center.  Found the statue of an old geezer.

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At least the Jardain Anglais is really nice and offers some retreat.
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Finally we board the bus to Jussey-Gare. Time to ring a up a taxi to get us to Corre. But one of the two numbers I looked up from the web rings out. The other one reaches a friendly gentleman, who insists I shall ring back after 4 o’clock, as then his daughter would be around. And she would speak better English…
I would not mind to make the acquaintance of his daughter, but I need a taxi now. I approach a teenager who is the only other passenger in the bus. He must know the daughter, as he also speaks English. He rings the taxi gentleman on my behalf and things are sorted.

At Jussey-Gare we find this vehicle. The lad is all cars at the moment, so he is very much delighted.

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20€ later the taxi drops us of at Corre. Of course the marina staff enjoy their well deserved lunch break. So we have to wait another hour, to get our car keys back and the compound unlooked. And then we are finally under way back to St-Jean. The trip is rather adventurous . Especially when the Garmin decides to guide me down a lane that is exactly 2inches wider than the trailer.  At the end of the lane I cannot get out as there is no space to turn with the trailer hitched to the car. So we have to unhitch the trailer, drive the Landy out to the “main road” and then manhandle the trailer behind. I do hate satnavs. With a passion.

Eventually we reach St-Jean. We ring The IO to bring the boat up to the rowing club jetty, next to the slipway. There is plenty of space to leave car and trailer for the night.
We set of out to a last swim in the river. Much needed in the heat. Back to St-Jean we tie to Pete’s boat, as the quay is full with boats.

Another evening finds us boozing with Pete and a couple from an English narrowboat. All very nice with music in the background, as there a concert in the Salon de The next door. When they close the intoxicated crowd moves out to continue their party next to the boat.  Usually I wouldn’t mind and join in, but we need to get up early tomorrow.  Thus we set up for a little cruise up the river to the rowing club. Nice and quiet.

France 2017, Saône, (Day 25)

Saône pk 209 – St-Jean-de-Losne

Sunday, 27.08.2017

15 km 0 locks

This is our last day on the river. Tomorrow the Lad and myself will retrieve the rig from Corre. And on Tuesday we will tow up to Normandy and the river Seine. Before there is the matter of sorting out tickets for rail and bus to get there. And also I have printed out a connection to get us there most of the way, it is not quite consistent.
The IO lets me of at the derelict stepped quay next to the railway bridge. I walk to the station in hope of some clarification. But all there is, is a machine that sells me tickets at least for the first two legs of the trip.

Back at the boat the IO has bought breakfast from the baker and we attend to that first. Then we walk to the tourist office. And the friendly lady here can shed some light on it. There are two stations at Besançon. And the right station is called Besanon Franche-Comté, which really is confusing, because yes, Besançon is in the Franche-Comté……

At least we are sorted and do not have much to do for the rest oft he day. As it is really, really hot we cruise up the river a bit, past the ship yard.

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Basically the whole day is about frolicking  about in and on the water. Then we go to an expedition onto the Île des Maillys. There are the ruins of some sheds, even small hoses. All a bit haunted and myriads of flies. Back to the water, more swimming.

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Back at St-Jean-de-Losne, which has become our home port somehow, we moor up to the tough looking cruiser of Pete. Pete has been cruising in France for several years. We invite him round for a glass or five. The good news spreads and his mate Keith joins us as well. So we all have a pleasant evening with maybe a wee bit too much.

France 2017, Saône, (Day 24)

Doubs pk 66 – Saône pk 209

Saturday, 26.08.2017

50 km 2 locks

We pull the pins, down the Doubs for half an hour, round the islands at Verdun and then up the Saône again.

Another flawless day lies ahead.
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Another redundant lock near Seurre. Together with lock cut and access bridge.
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The lock keeper’s cottage and some interesting maintenance craft.
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We stop at Seurre just behind the supermarket at the little yellow crane.  The last time for this trip to get some petrol. And some food for the weekend.
Coming back from shopping, we hear very loud engine noise, loudspeakers, general racket. We have no idea what that is, but it soon becomes clear.
Around the bridge at Seurre, there is a Formula 2 speed boat race in full swing.

We get flagged down by a security boat that stops all traffic on the river. After a bit of confusion we drop anchor. And have got the absolute pole position to watch the races.

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The lad is all cars and petrol at the moment, so he is totally thrilled. Between the legs we go for swims, have a bit of food and a cold beer. A day at the races. Who would have expected that?

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The boats themselves seem to be very fragile, and thus are lifted in and out by cranes. No crude trailers…
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The original plan was to reach St-Jean-de-Losne, but with all the excitement much time has passed and we probably won’t make it in daylight. We look out for another spot for bank mooring. We find a very idyllic space near pk 209.
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And while we are slap bang in the middle of nowhere, we get some entertainment thrown in.
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France 2017, Saône, (Day 23)

pk 128 Saône – Doubs pk 66

Friday, 25.08.2017

35 km 1 locks

As we arrive at Chalon-sur-Saone, the morning rush hour is in full swing.

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The Andre Michel I is loading grain. Vesselfinder says, that it is a proper coaster. Its amazing to meet a seagoing vessel 380 km inland, as the crow flies.
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Being still early in the day we get a mooring at the marina, under the strict understanding, that we piss off no later than 15.00. That should be no problem, as all we want to do is actually visiting the Musée Denon.  All kinds of prehistoric, Gallo Roman, medieval and general old stuff.
Archaeologists have found this boat from the Gallo Roman period.

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This piece was part of a caisson that was used to build the pillars of the 15th century Pont-Saint-Laurent.

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After the museum visit, we have light lunch at a restaurant opposite the Hotel-de-Ville. Then its back to the boat. Or rather back to the shoe shop at the Gigantomarché behind the marina. For some reason that eludes me, the last shoe haul was not successful. Or not successful enough. I refuse to join, as that clearly would be too much fun for me. I retire to the boat and wait for a few hours. About 30 seconds before 15.00 the crew returns.

Being suspiciously watched by the harbourmaster we leave rather hastily. Further up the river we meet some nicely maintained peniches. Also Bounty always seems to be a bit of a dodgy name for a boat.

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Summer has definitely arrived and it has got increasingly hotter over the last few days. Thus more swimming is in order.
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Looking for a place for the night we pass Verdun-sur-le-Doubs again.
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We decide to go up the navigable stretch of the Doubs in order to find a nice spot for bank mooring. Not such a clever decision. The banks are high, steep and uncombed.  So it  takes a good while before we find a piece of Armco we can tie up to. Not much of a room with a view. But definitely the most quiet and remote mooring of the whole trip.