France 2018, Anjou (Day 15)

Châteauneuf-sur-Sarthe – Briollay

Thursday, 2.08.2018

17 km, 1 lock

Together with the hire company also the water taps at the harbour in Châteauneuf have disappeared.
Which is bad, as we have had an incident last night. I woke up amidst a dream in which I was wondering, why the IO was washing the dishes in the middle of the night. I realised that the IO was fast asleep, but the sound of the fresh water pump clicking in and out was real…
I can get up very quickly if I have to. Inspection showed, that the non-return-valve that feeds the cold water to the Truma heater has sprung a leak. Water seeping out on the floor. For now we just dumped the contents of the water tank into the river and went back to bed.

Considering the options in the morning, it is realised that there really is no need for the combined water and blown air heating. The “cold” water in the tank is somewhere around 27°. Enough for a shower. And who ever would attempt to turn on the heater would be keelhauled anyways. Thus a wooden bung is made to fit the feeder pipe, banged in and secured with a jubilee clip. This repair will last till the end of the holidays without any loss of comfort.

But we are still in need to refill the tank. There is a fresh water tap in the lock. So we ask the locky to open the gates for us and fill up. She is very friendly and happy to oblige.

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We set off down the river and pass this rather strange building. I cannot find any reference to it anywhere. If you can shed some light, dear reader, please leave a comment.
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Todays attraction are the river islands near Moulin d’Ivray. Here the canoe would come into its own.
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There are plenty of little canals cutting through the islands. Overgrown with waterlilies and frogbit.

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We take about two hours to circumnavigate a few of the islands. Returning to ARGO, the local farmers are using their brand new ferry to get cattle to one of the islands. So while we have a light lunch, entertainment is catered for.

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Onwards it is time for a bit of swimming and general messing about.
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At Cheffes we pass our French acquaintances and exchanged a few waves.
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Then it was through the lock…
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… and out onto the flood plains of the Maine area.
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Tom and Huck using one of the old tow path bridges for a spell of fishing.
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Thus we arrive in Briollay. By now it is well above 40°. We spend the afternoon on the commons by the river seeking some shade under the trees. Mad, really mad..

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Only when the sun sets, we dare to return to the boat.
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France 2018, Anjou (Day 14)

Solesmes – Châteauneuf-sur-Sarthe

Wednesday, 1.08.2018

33 km, 5 locks

Always nice when you know were the best bread in town can be had for breakfast. It all feels a tad more like one belongs here.
The first lock of the day is particularly interesting, as is sports a swing bridge across the lock chamber.

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And also a contraption for making faggots. Looks very handy. I tried making faggots at home a few years ago. Just with the help of a rope. Didn’t go that well. Didn’t go that well at all…
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The bridge, the chateau and the river go well together in Sable.
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Other than that, the town we liked so much three years ago, is one huge building site. Which probably is a good sign, but does do nothing for us now. So just a quick trip to the shops and then back onto the river.  At the town lock we are hailed by an elderly French gentleman on his red cruiser. If we would share the lock with him, and while we wait for his wife, would we drink some homemade Sauvignon Blanc with him. An offer hard to refuse, also it isn’t even lunch time. The wine is a bit rough around the edges, but between a few words of French and an equally few of English, we have a pleasant conversation.

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And then, just before the S.N.C.F. viaduct a second boat. Two boats on one day. Imagine that.
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One other news: There aren’t any. The Sarthe is just a beautiful river avoiding every attempt to be even vaguely spectacular or to seek any attention.

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For the night we moor up at Châteauneuf-sur-Sarthe. The little harbour used to be run by a hire company that has buggered of to somewhere else. So its all a bit unkempt on the verge to derelict. But never mind. The floating jetties are still floating and the French gentleman is handing out another round of Sauvignon Blanc. Nothing wrong with that.

France 2018, Anjou (Day 13)

La Suze-sur Sarthe – Solesmes

Tuesday, 31.07.2018

43 km, 7 locks

Fresh baguette and pain au chocolate for breakfast. Life is good. It is another ragingly hot day. In one of the driest and hottest summers central Europe has ever seen. Still there is some water in the river that pushes us downstream with an extra 1 or 2 km/h, thus making for a swift passage.

Only stopped by locks…
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… with their adjoining lock cuts.
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Just below the lock at Noyen-sur-Sarthe one can precariously tie the boat to a tree and walk along the border of a large corn field to a small Carrefour market with a fuel pump. Definitely one of the handier possibilities for refuelling along the Sarthe.

The Sarthe is a genuinely lovely river, but sadly there are hardly any opportunities for a bit of bank mooring. Either there is too much vegetation. Or no vegetation, but rocks..

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So all in all a rather uneventful day. But still pleasant with a lot of swimming and general messing about with boats. We stop again at Solesmes, as we get caught out by lock closing time. Although I will never get over the eeriness if that abbey, it is a nice leafy location with plenty of shade unter the trees.
BBQ and red wine.  Oh, and we still have not met another boat.

France 2018, Anjou (Day 12)

La Suze-sur Sarthe – Le Mans

Monday, 30.07.2018

by train

Today we do a land based excursion to Le Mans. First and foremost to the famous race track and the museum.

First a train ride to Le Mans. Pleasant in a modern TER.
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Then things get slightly more complex. We take the tram from the Gare SNCF vaguely towards the race track, disembark at the penultimate station and are left with only 30 minutes through a most uninspiring industrial estate. And its hot. Very hot. But hey, if your French isn’t good enough to call a cab, you have to suffer through.

Buying the tickets we are advised to get to the track first, as there is some motorbike racing going on. Of course we will.

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The lad is pleased.

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Outside there is some sort of a bulli meeting. Great cars, also the one we had almost 30 years ago was a genuine pile of rusty sh*t.
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The museum itself features almost any car or bike, that has been raced on the track, plus  a great selection of automobile history.

Was raced:
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Was not raced, but driven from Damascus to Beijing in 1932.
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My absolute favourite car ever.  The DS made into a sports version.
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And of course all kinds of Le Mans legends.

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With all done and seen, we have to walk back the 4km to the tram station and through the relentless heat. The tram brings us right to downtown Le Mans and we have a stroll through the historic centre.
And to delight the lad even more, we find a creperie that’s actually open for business.

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The old town is really nice, but there are absolutely no people. No locals, no tourist. Very strange.

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From here it is back to the train station und finally to La Suze-sur Sarthe.
We take the boat out on the river and go for a refreshing swim. Very much needed. Quiet evening and early night.

France 2018, Anjou (Day 11)

Malicorne-sur-Sarthe – La Suze-sur Sarthe

Sunday, 29.07.2018

20 km and 3 locks

All in all I have not got much to show for today’s post.  Being Sunday this part of France is largely shut down. So we have a rather lazy morning at the beautiful mooring at Malincorne.

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Our only duty today is to find a mooring near a train station in order to get into Le Mans tomorrow. Our first port of call is Noyen-sur-Sarthe. The harbour master there is rather unfriendly and wants to get rid of us,  as he is expecting a whole fleet of boats arriving.  Mind: We haven’t seen a single boat moving in the two days we are on the river so far. At least he allows us to stay for two hours. Walking into Noyen, we only need a fraction of that time, as there is absolutely nothing of note to do or see.

So we pull pins and continue further upstream. Past some very nice social housing that is abundant along the Sarthe.

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In La Suze-sur-Sarthe, there is no harbour master. And no boats to speak of.
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We check out the train station and book tickets using trainline.eu . That is a very handy app. Living in Ireland we cannot, for what logic ever,  book online tickets on the SNCF website, but only can wait for paper tickets to be send by post. Not very helpful.

That all sorted we settle in for the night and the excitement of Le Mans tomorrow.