Our Barge, Odysseus

Friday, September 30, 2011

The River Seille - Aug. 4 - 10

Just going over the blog, reliving this summers travels, we realized that our trip on the Seille River and visit to the market in Louhans didn't get posted. Because of the way Blogger archives posts things will be out of order but without further ado....

The navigable portion of the River Seille is only 38 kilometers and, except for small villages and the larger market town of Louhans at the end of the navigation, twists and turns through a rural landscape of cornfields, trees and livestock farms. There are only 4 small locks and, in a new twist, only the first lock off the Saone is staffed. Boaters have to operate the other three themselves.
Water traffic on the river was first recorded around 1000 with rock salt being carried down the river to the monks at Tournus. The locks and bridges were installed in the late 1700's. Commercial traffic, never very heavy, dwindled throughout the years and it took serious work in the 1980's to save the canal from dereliction.
Now there are four hire boat companies renting boats along the river and there is quite a bit of traffic.
We left the pontoon at Tournus about 9:30 am and made the 6 k to the entrance to the river in a little less than an hour. We made our way through the first lock and then found a spot on the bank just 6 k up the river. We were tied up in plenty of time for lunch.

On the bank in the trees.
Cathy Jo does a little gardening.

Heading up the river.

We traveled a little further Friday, finding another bank mooring in the trees after negotiating one lock. It seems that since there is so much hireboat (read - inexperienced) traffic on the river, the hireboat companies have hired people to staff the locks so there was an eclusier. Lucky, too, because there was a line of boats waiting for the lock and without help it would have taken much longer than the nearly an hour it took to get through.
The end of day three found us at our ultimate destination and the end of the navigation, the town of Louhans. The home of the only chicken with it's own AOC, the Bresse chicken, and an amazing market.

From David Downie's "Food and Wine" (The Little Bookroom, 2010), "If you visit one market in Burgundy, make it Louhans. It ranks among the top three in France. Held since the 1200's, from dawn to 1 pm Mondays. … Stands mushroom all over this surprisingly charming, little-known farm town of 6,000 inhabitants. You'll find eggs, live chicks, mature birds, the feeds and treatments for them, cages, poultry farmers' tools and chicken theme knicknacks. Live ducks, geese, rabbits, goats, porkers, sheep and other livestock are ranged amid items normally found at other markets, from fruits and vegetables to wines and cheeses, terrines, salamis, pates, candy, chocolate, herbs, plants and seeds." And, he might have added, every type of clothing item known to man (or woman). "Arrive early: tens of thousands attend, the atmosphere is festive, and traffic snarls." He was right on every count. It was MADNESS!!!

Looking down Grand Rue, Louhans' main street. According the the tourist office brochure it is the longest street with arcades in France. 157 arcades, the oldest dating from the 15th century, line both sides. If not for all the people and tents, you might be able to see them!

These girls are headed for somebody's pot.

Fruit and veggie HQ.

Our plan had been to leave after the market on Monday afternoon but it was pretty windy and we'd had a wild morning so we decided to stay put and leave Tuesday morning.
We awoke to the sound of rain on the cabin roof but the shower had passed by departure time so we shoved off.
As before, the last lock up the river was unstaffed so we had to work it ourselves, but the other two had lockkeepers. We tied up in the same spot we enjoyed our first night on the river after a brief lunchtime stop in the village of Loisy to admire the 12th century chateau and the still-working mill.

Wednesday morning we were off again, re-entering the Saone River and tied up in Tournus by 11:15.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Map for 2011

Here is the map for our 2011 trip. As before, you can zoom in to see what we saw, albeit from the air. Some really beautiful country this year. Also, the .kml file will open the map in Google Earth for even more options.

Next year? We'll see.

And we've had a couple of nibbles on the boat. As I said before: Next year? We'll see.


View Voyage 2011 in a larger map

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (well, vans) Sept. 2

The trip home as planned was to take the Eurostar from Paris to London with an hour to make the tube trip from the train to Heathrow and then time for a leisurely lunch before our flight left at 4, then a shuttle van home.
Things got a little dicey when there was a signal problem on the Eurostar tracks and we ended up sitting in a tunnel in the English countryside for about 1 1/2 hours. Then the 1 hour subway ride ran a little long because of some delays on the tracks so our leisurely lunch turned into wolfing down paninis while on the way to the gate for our flight.
After an on-time departure we headed north.
The trip takes the great circle route from London to Los Angeles; leaving England and crossing Scotland, Iceland and Greenland before heading south just west of Hudson Bay, crossing Montana, Wyoming and Nevada before entering California airspace. Since the flight leaves at 4 and lands at 7 pm heading west, the whole thing is in daylight. Usually it clouds up the minute you head north but this time we were blessed with clear skies over most of the trip and a great view of the western Greenland fjords.

And not a wing shot among 'em!

There was a great swimming pool in this iceberg. Don't know that I'd want to go swimming in there, though.

We landed on time at 7:15 pm. Unfortunately, several oversees flights had landed before us and the customs and immigration hall was full. We couldn't leave the plane for about half an hour, then stood in line for about an hour and a half to get our passports scanned.
After the van made two circles around the airport looking for more passengers we headed up the freeway only to get stuck in traffic caused by a wreck on one of the busiest freeways in Los Angeles.
Finally, at 11 pm we were at our door. Thankfully, Mary, who had stayed in the house while we were gone, left us with a freshly made bed and coffee for the morning. This years trip was over.

Paris - Aug. 30 - Sept. 2

After getting things settled at our room, off we went into the city up to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur. Except for a brief stay three years ago on the boat, we've always been in Paris either mid-May or mid-September and we hadn't realized the full impact of tourist-Paris. The butte was jumpin! The small sidewalk cafes were all packed and the narrow streets were full of "yoots," this area being a popular hangout. We had a really good pizza at the local "Pink Flamingo," and after a little stroll around the area, headed back to our room. Tomorrow would be eventful; a trip to Versailles.

Upon good advice, we purchased our entrance tickets to the palace at the train station before departing. That meant we only had to stand in one, 1 hour line for entrance to the chateau itself. Standing in line did give us a great view of the complex.

The old brick and stone chateau of Louis XIII was transformed by his son, Louis XIV beginning in 1661. The work continued until his death in 1715 but there were continual "upgrades" made well into the 18th century under the reigns of Louis' XV and XVI. In 1789 the king and his family were run out of the chateau at the beginning of the French revolution. In the mid 1800's it was officially opened to outsiders.

Some great trompe l'oeils painting on the ceiling in part of the Kings chamber.

The man, himself.

The Hall of Mirrors.

The Latone Fountain and Parterre, then the Grand Canal at the base of the "Green Carpet" and the Apollo Fountain. Unfortunately, they don't turn the water on in the fountains except on special occasions.

There are some pretty specialized jobs required to keep up a place like this. This craftsman was repairing the arm of one of the statues along the Green Carpet.

Everybody needs a lawn ornament like this.

We spent all day wandering about the chateau, the nearby Grand and Petite Trianons and the gardens. It was a beautiful day but we were a little footsore by the time we got back to the room about 6.

Happily, the weather during our stay in Paris was very pleasant. There was a little shower while we were at dinner on Wednesday night but other than that is was sunny and warm.
Thursday we spent just wandering around the city, visiting the area by the Seine, the St. Germaine neighborhood and the Notre Dame cathedral. We didn't go into the church, however. The place was crawling with tourist groups.
Friday morning it was up early. We had a 9 oclock train to catch. We were homeward bound.

Misc. Pictures - Where Do I Put These?

This is what happens when you do too many locks!

Cathy Jo's locking tools.

An indestructible ping-pong table near the Auberge du Coney. Even the "net" is cement!

Be careful when driving the car near canals. Especially on the ones that end up at the water.

Dave and Gill Renshaw's beautiful "Avontuur." We met them first two years ago on the Nivernais when they saved us with a hose clamp and this year on the Bourgogne and again on the Centre.

The Petite Rhone in the village of Chanaz on the Lac du Bourget.

Last Days on Odysseus? Aug 24-29

Maybe our last trip on Odysseus took place on Wednesday as we left the dock for the short trip to the fuel dock, filled up the tank and returned; about an hour in all. We had just a few short days to get the boat cleaned up, ready for winter and ready to be shown to potential new owners.
We intended to leave the boat fully ready for the next owners, "Go to the grocery store, bring your clothes, turn the key and go!" so we wouldn't be taking much more than personal stuff home. But over the years we'd accumulated quite a bit of "extras" that would have to be sorted through and either kept or discarded. France makes a special effort to publish lots of information for tourists and we figured it was our obligation to collect some of it. Didn't seem like we needed to keep a two year old schedule of summer activities in Alsace, though.
We also took the opportunity to do a little visiting. St. Jean de Losne is a central location for many English speaking boaters so we were able to make contact with peopled we'd missed over the last couple of years.

The St. Jean de Losne Gare d'Eau, home of two marinas.
Odysseus is on the left-most very long finger.
To the left is the beginning of the Canal du Bourgogne.

Tuesday the 30th about noon we locked up the boat and dragged our suitcases up the dock. The train from St. Jean to Dijon left at 12:45 and only took about half an hour so there was time for lunch before our 4:50 pm date with the bullet train to Paris.