Our Barge, Odysseus

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We "Heart" Ranchot

We couldn't have picked a better place to be stuck than Ranchot. The halt is very secure with power and water available, a good boulangerie is right around the corner and a good sized grocery store is a five minute bike ride away.
Sunday morning after the bad engine news was delivered, as we were drinking our morning coffee, we noticed several people walking up and down the canal bank, peering at our boat and obviously discussing something. We saw them "framing" us with their fingers, movie director style. Since we're from near LA we immediately thought "movie!" and maybe there was some money in it for us. But it turned out they were a local plein air painting group looking for subjects for the days outing. We were picturesque enough for them. They set up their easels and went to work.
Meanwhile we were off on our bicycles. The Grottes d' Ossell is a system of limestone caverns about 15 k up the canal on the most excellent towpath/bicycle route and about 4 k up in the hills. The caves have been visited since the 1700's and stretch about 8 k under the hills, about half of which is accessible. It really is very impressive, with a very colorful collection of stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations. The tour took about an hour and, luckily, the guide spoke English well.
There was also a rowing club nearby, We thought they may have an outboard or other small boat that we could use to get back to St. Smphorien but had no luck with that. We did see the boat "Esprit de Normandie," a boat whose owners we had met over the internet. They offered some advice but, since they were headed in the other direction and were only on the boat for a few more days, that was all they could do.
Upon returning to the boat, we saw that the painters had been hard at work and took pictures of the pictures.

We gave our boat calling card to one of the painters who told us that the press had been around and we asked if photos could be emailed to us.
When we got to Holland on Thursday and picked up our email, there was a note from the Mayor of Ranchot, Eric Montagnon, with copies of the newspaper pictures.

The Mayor and one of the Painters

There are several Odysseus' among the paintings of the day.
That's the Mayor in the back row to the left of the photo.

We replied with our thanks, using our computer to translate the email into French but composing the English version for easy translation.
Just after the engine was installed on Saturday, Mayor Montagnon happened to be walking by on the bank with a group of friends and stopped by to complement our French! We explained the ruse and he said he would stop by on Sunday afternoon. True to his word, as we were having our evening aperitif, the Mayor and his daughter Emily stopped by. We had a nice chat even through the language difficulty, and we learned a bit about the village.
About 500 people live in Ranchot but, as there is no industry and only one working farm, they use the train to commute to Besancon and Dole. The Mayor has lived in Ranchot for about 3 years and both he and his wife work for the railroad on the construction of the extension of the TGV (bullet) train from Belfort into Switzerland, due to be completed next year.
We thanked the Mayor for his hospitality but it was time to move on. Tomorrow was departure #3!

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