Anjou and the Loire (The way home)

La Gazilly (Aff) – Ireland

Wednesday 12.08.2015

It is Wednesday´s task to retrieve car and trailer from Mayenne. In the morning the child and myself board a taxi to Redon. There we await the arrival of a regional train to Rennes, where we change to the TGV (train à grande vitesse) to Laval. I always wanted to ride on this French icon. And as tickets were so cheap, I even booked first class.  The train is absolutely amazing. Spotless clean, quiet, civilized, very French indeed. Only downside was, that the stretch from Rennes to Laval isn’t high speed yet.  But we can see a lot of building sites for the high speed extension. But even so the ride is over ways too soon.
In Laval we have to switch to a local bus to Mayenne. The café du sport  next to the station offers a noire for me an ice-cream for the child. The 50-seater bus is all ours, and 45 minutes later we are dropped of at the Gare Routiere in Mayenne. Meanwhile the day has turned from warm to incredibly hot. The whole town is deserted with everybody staying in a  cool place. I am hoping for a taxi, but no chance. So we battle up and down the hills in the heat, the child being slightly unhappy, but very brave.
The Landy starts first turn and the trailer hooked up we get on the road back to La Gazilly. As always after a longer time on a boat the speed of land based transport comes almost as a shock and we are a bit of a slow moving obstacle for the first few miles. Or we would be, if the roads wouldn’t be totally empty.
Back at the boat we park up the trailer and drive on to Redon to pay Monsieur Leclerc ‘s grocery a visit. We take on a good stock of his best produce in anticipation of a long Irish winter, far away from cheap booze.

Kerstin wisely booked a table in the Pizzeria, expecting it to be booked. It turns out to be. Just as we sit down Martin walks past. A big hello and Martin, Regina and Drew decide to stay for dinner. That takes a lot of shuffling and arguing with the Maître to make additional space.  We have a lovely meal and a lot of stories to swap. And the alcohol induced idea to go for a little night trip down the l’Aff. It turns out to be really lovely, the only light being the new moon shinning through the tree cover.

Early Thursday morning its time to bid farewell to the French waterways.
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With Martins help we haul the boat up the trailer and get everything roadshape. Of we go to Camping le Cormoran near Sainte-Mère-Église. All in all probably not the best choice. The fellow campers are rather strange, and together with the overcast weather and the proximity to Utah beach, it feels rather eerie.

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On the other hand the child is loving it. For 50 cents he can hire a go cart and is in seventh heaven. Can’t we spent next years holiday here?
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On Friday morning we extend our stay to the last moment, as we still have eight hours to kill, before the ferry leaves from Cherbourg. We are going to visit the “La Cité de la Mer” again after last years success.  If it is only because I know that there is a parking space where I can park car and trailer and will be able to get out again without too much trouble. The second visit is not quiet as exiting as the first one, but at least we get a few nice shots of Sharky.

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On the ferry we again meet the Donegal crowd and so have a generally great time.

Back in Ireland within an hour we get a call from German friends who have just landed with kids and camper in Rosslare and are locking for a place to stay a couple of nights. There is just no ending to them dreaded BBQs and beers….

To wrap it up: It was a mighty fine holiday. Great nature, great towns, great food, great drink and the most friendly people. Just enough technical problems to keep us on our toes. We will be back.

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Anjou and the Loire (Day 18)

Rieux (Vilaine) – La Gazilly (Aff)

Tuesday 11.08.2015

1 Lock   27 km

 

After breakfast we bid farewell to our new friends and turn upstream towards Redon. This is our last day of proper boating and so we want to make the most out of it.
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At Redon we turn left into the Grand Basin and cross our course from last summer. Circumnavigation executed. We lock up into the Canal Nantes à Brest and turn left towards the Île aux Pies. This is one of those beauty spot that seems to attract people in their throngs. You hardly meet anybody for days and then suddenly there is a hive of activity.
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We stop at Escapades verticales . Like last year we had a great time  rock-climbing in this well kept park. Only problem being the dragging away of the child.
Then it is a double right turn. First past the Île aux Pies.
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And then up the l’Aff.
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La Gazilly is this years end point of the trip. Not only has it a handy slipway, but also a good connection to Redon and therefore to the wider network of public transport. More about that tomorrow. And most importantly the festival photo La Gacilly. An event absolutely not to be missed if you are even vaguely in the vicinity.  The whole village is transformed in a huge open air photo gallery.  This years subjects are Italy and “feeding the planet”. 2016 it will be Japan and the Oceans.

Farming life has come a long way from this
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to this:
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Being in France, at seven pm the people just disappear from the streets and we have the village almost to ourselves.
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Anjou and the Loire (Day 17)

Guenrouet – Pont de Cran – Rieux (Vilaine)

Monday 10.08.2015

1 Lock   37 km

 

The morning stroll up the step hill into the village shows no results, as the baker is on his well deserved holiday and the epicerie will only open at 11.00 am. We set out on the journey to Redon and the waterway cross of Brittany. The section below Guenrouet must be one of the most stunning of the Nantes à Brest. The Canal joins the bed of the small river l’Isac and widens out into gentle meanders.

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At the ecluse le Bellion one can lock down directly to the Vilaine.
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But we want to do a little detour to Saint-Nicolas-de-Redon. There is a huge E.Leclerc supermarket with filling station right by the canal. That does not only give us a chance to do some restocking and refuelling without having to lug the provisions long distances.  It also gives us a change to suss out the supermarket. Once having retrieved the car, we will use it to stock up with food and drink that’s not available or very expensive in Ireland. As always with French supermarkets, this specimen leaves little to be desired.

Ecluse Isac in the middle of Redon is keeper operated with a lift bridge right over the lock. So that’s where we spend our lunch break.
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Going downstream the Vilaine we pass this gorgeous tug. A nice project if you are brave. Just a lick of paint…
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The wide river without much flow or wind makes for easy and pleasant boating.
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Château Rieux is quiet unlike all those glamorous châteaus we have passed so far. Along this manly flat part of countryside the little hill beside the river has always been of strategic importance. Hence there was a castle built already in the 9th century. This has been altered, destroyed and rebuild several times throughout history. But the final blow was no siege nor treason, but an earthquake in 1799. Today only a few ruins are left, which are emblemished with all kinds of art. A different and beautiful place.
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As it is still early we idle down the few kilometres to the Cran swing bridge. Just to be nosy.
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Boat porn along the way.
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We return back to Rieux where we tie to the generous pontoon. This is the only time we have to pay for a nights mooring. We meet the crews of a British and a German sailing boat. Both have known each other for the last 20 years. Both had 20 years ago the intention to sail there boats to the Mediterranean. Both are still sailing in southern Brittany after 20 years. I can see why.

There are kids for the child to play with and its an all-round enjoyable evening with our new friends.