Ranchot – Besançon
38 km 10 locks 1 tunnel
This weekend nearby Fraisans is the venue for the NoLogo Festival. Three days of open-air Reggae. I have read about that before, but have put it on the mental backburner. We are painfully reminded of that fact, when at 2 in the night an old lorry pulls up, with an assortment of Reggae fans. They start a bonfire and try to change a tyre, half a meter from Markus’s tent. Myself always has a solid sleep.
Other than that Ranchot is still a quiet place when I walk to the little Epicerie on this misty morning.
Markus has lost all sympathy for camping in a tent after one night only. So we set a plan to make it to Besançon, as there sure will be a hotel for a bit more comfort. Also Besançon is the mayor attraction of this trip, but will nonetheless be boarded up as any other French town at Sundays. So we set of to a leisurely jaunt up the river. Sophie is made acquainted to the idea of swimming in water that is not tiled at the bottom.
The scenery does get increasingly spectacular, with the Doubs cutting a deep valley through the limestone. The mountains around us are the last foothill of the Jura mountains, which make up the north-western part of the Alps. So in fact, we are climbing up the Alps, in a boat. Damn cool.
When looking at a topographic map of the area, you can see why they choose this route for a waterway between the Rhone and the Rhine. Although the canal builders at the time had to climb quiet a few meters, this was the logic course. As immediately to the north the Vosges mountain rise up.
For lunch we stop above ecluse Thoraise. Between the lock and the tunnel (river tunnel, yeah!) is a very nice jetty with all facilities. This would be a nice overnight stop. For now we just make use of the Picnic area.
Really cool is the water curtain at the other end of the tunnel, that switches of, just before you cruise through.
The lock cuts get shorter, with some of the locks almost standing in the river itself.
Finally we make it into Besançon. Here the boater can take the Souterrain Tarragnoz, which is cutting right underneath the mighty Citadelle. We prefer to stay on the river, that skirts the old town centre in one big loop. Free sightseeing.
Markus has booked a hotel room in advance, and he hops of just underneath the bridge in the picture. We should have done a bit pre-booking as well. But being very lucky, we just get the last available space at the Port St-Paul.
Although it is practically below one of the main bridges into the city, it is a remarkably peaceful place. There are hardly any cars, as Besançon has invested big time into public transport, with several brand new railway lines and buses. Very nice.
Beyond the port the ecluse St-Paul can be seen. It is the only manual lock on the Doubs.
I ask the harbour master for a restaurant recommendation, and he sends us to the La Grange, just a five minute walk away. It is, well, different. It is kind of a themed restaurant, styled like an alpine cabin, clearly pointed at the tourist market. But then we are tourists ourselves , the service and the food are good, although the later follows the already familiar theme of sausage, sausage and sausage filled with sausage.
A few nightcaps on board ARGO bring this pleasant day to an end.