Our Barge, Odysseus

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fontenoy le Chateau and the end of the Canal des Vosges, July 3-5

Another beautiful little village, Fontenoy le Chateau was an important fortified town from the 13th to the 17th centuries but went into decline after an attack by French and Swedish troops in 1635. It made it's big comeback with the opening of the canal in the 1870's and now boasts a couple of very nice tourist hotels, a hire-boat base and a very good boulangerie that, luckily for us, is open until 12:30 on Sunday afternoons. We pulled in about 20 minutes before noon, put out stakes for a free mooring across from the hire-boat base and made it to the boulangerie in plenty of time. That gave us all day to explore the village.
Up on the hill overlooking the Coney River valley are the remains of an old chateau, now primarily used as a graveyard, and a great view of the surrounding town and the green forests of the Vosges mountains. Down in the valley sits the medieval town with it's narrow twisting streets and picturesque buildings with the canal and river twisting their way through. Very pleasant!

Under the blue canopy center right you can just see people finishing their Sunday lunch.

Monday morning it was off for our last day on this canal, but first we had to endure some typical Canal des Vosges scenery.

There's quite a bit of wildlife along the canals; eagles and hawks, swans and ducks. To make it easier for the ducks to get in and out of the water when the canal sides are sheet piling, the waterways people have helpfully provided "duck ramps."

Monday afternoon we pulled into the village where the Canal des Vosges meets the Petite Saone River, Corre. It was time for the 4th of July!
For the first time in three years, Tim wasn't here to provide us with one sausage short of a meal and there were no other Americans, let along English speakers, around but we managed a good old American meal anyway. Well, almost. The barbecue sauce for the chicken had harissa in it, we had to use cornichons instead of pickles in the potato salad and the wine was French but it was a great meal nevertheless.
There was a gas station about a five minute walk away so we filled the tank and jugs.
A word about fuel; along with laundry, one of the drudgeries of canal boating. There are very few waterside fuel stations (I can think of two) in northern France so diesel has to be carried by jug from gas stations. A gas station close to the water is a thing to be cherished. A typical sight is the canal boater trundling back from the station with fuel cans. We have a hand cart that will hold our two five-gallon-equivalent jugs and I made three trips to the station to top off Odysseus. You can stop feeling sorry for me now.
So Tuesday the 5th about noon we were off onto the river. We had covered 129 kilometers of the Canal des Vosges, negotiating 92 locks in about 6 1/2 days underway.

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