Our Barge, Odysseus

Monday, August 10, 2009

Clamecy July 28-29

Clamecy is the biggest town between Auxerre and the end of the Nivernais Canal at Decize so we decided to spend a couple of days.
As we entered the last lock right before town about 3 on Sunday afternoon the skies were very dark. Sure enough, just as the lock gates opened, so did the heavens. There were no available spots on the town moorings so we were going to have to drive stakes in the ground and tie to those ... in the pouring rain. Luckily it was pretty warm so we just got a thorough rain-water rinse. The next day a couple of boats moved and we were able to tie up on the quay.
Although Clamecy is on the Nivernais Canal, the Yonne River also runs through town and was the center of the towns industry for centuries; that industry being firewood for Paris. The town is on the edge of the Morvan Forest and the trees would be felled, cut into logs and then floated down the Yonne to the Seine and then to Paris. The practice began in the 16th century, lasted until the early 1920's and employed generations of residents of the area.

Downtown Clamecy with the church tower keeping watch.

Looking back toward town with part of the marina in view.

One of the best features of the Nivernais Canal is the revitalized towpath. The campers in the picture above are on it returning to the campground after a visit to the grocery store. Before barges were motorized, they were towed by horses or, in some cases, people. (In the barge museum in St. Jean de Losne there's a great picture of granny towing a barge along the Canal de Bourgogne with a tumpline!) The government has revitalized the path all along the canal and now it makes a great, and well used, hiking and bicycling path. Since the canal is level, the only elevation changes being at the locks and even those are very gradual, It's very easy cycling. The authorities have also very kindly spotted picnic tables and water points along the path to make for an easy trek. As a matter of fact, we'll frequently park the boat and then cycle either ahead, to see what we'll be facing, or back to check out things we may have missed.
While we were in town we took advantage of another feature of the Burgundy region; wine in bulk. The local cave has casks of local wine in the store and, after tasting to make sure it's what you want, the "Fountain of Wine" is filled. 5 liters for about E12. Dontcha love it!

The flowers, by the way, are sowed wild by the canal authorities at various places along the canal for your picking pleasure.
Wednesday morning we were off.

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