Vermenton - Migennes

After safely delivering back our grandson to his parents we raced back from The Netherlands into France on Sunday the 17th of May 2015, accompanied by one of one of our sisters (in law). Although tiny, our rented car proved to be capable of killing an army of insects.

The same Sunday, still glorious weather. The time of returning in Vermenton, after a journey of almost 700 kilometers (435 miles), allowed for winding down by sitting (hanging?) next to the ship in the shade. Vermenton’s port is actually situated in a little river, La Cure, a tributary to L’Yonne. NOTE: remember the two (TWO) flower boxes on top of our roof, in front of the wheelhouse.

When walking from the ship to Vermenton’s train station, and vice-versa, there was this meadow of such beauty that we must share it with you. Spring started with dandelion, followed by rapeseed and finally the buttercup showed up in all its yellowness. Gorgious!

We left Vermenton on Monday the 18th at 1:00PM, after returning the rented car. One of the lock houses on the way, next to lock number 72 named ‘Rivottes’, is decorated with several drawings of heads. This is one of them and underneath it reads ‘CANUS NIVERNIX 1er ECLUSIER EN 204 AV JC’.

Bailly, with its wine cellars inside a steep hill next to the mooring space, was reached after 12,5 kilometers (less than 8 miles) and 6 locks going down at 4:10PM. One of us climbed the hill (which one is anybody’s guess) and walked to the winery fairly deep inside the hill to buy a token for electricity. After descending it we unanimously decided not to visit the caves for a lot of reasons. (1) One’s in need of a raincoat. (2) It’s pretty cold and damp inside the cave. (3) The wine is more expensive but not necessarily better than in a supermarket. (4) Closing time was 6:30PM and opening time the next morning 9:00AM. Both slightly inconvenient. (5) A steep hill to climb. (6) We felt tired and were comfortably seated. Ah well, let’s admit it. We were just a lazy bunch, having to deal with rosé wine and malt whiskey.

Tuesday the 19th we left Bailly at 10:17AM for the final leg on Le Canal du Nivernais. The last lock, number 81 (yes 81, and that’s only on the Seine-side of the canal), called ‘Batardeau’ was tackled around 2:00PM. As this picture shows, we were thanked by VNF for visiting. The pleasure has been absolutely mutual, mesdames et messieurs! We’ll be back!

Here we are moored at Auxerre. Gloriously moored, one might add. It took us 4,5 hours, 12,5 kilometers (7,8 miles) and 7 locks included. After arriving there was no space for us and we breasted up with ‘Decize’ kindly permitted by its welcoming owner, DBA board-member Mike Gibbons. We informed the captain and the good man did not limit himself to just shrugging, oh no! He himself moved the boat that is visible behind us forward (after subtly pointing out the boat being moored facing the wrong way), thus creating a space for us. We finally were able to take this attractive space around 2:44PM.

When in Auxerre one self-evidently has to explore this charming little town. The best way for a novice to do this is to make a walking tour called ‘Follow Cadet Roussel’s footsteps’. A booklet is handed out by the tourist office and off one goes. This is a statue of Cadet Roussel (born Guillaume Joseph Rouselle, Orgelet 1743 – Auxerre 1807). His nickname was given to him because he was the youngest of his family. When Roussel was 20 he moved to Auxerre, initially working as a servant and a lackey, followed by bailiff-clerk. After buying an office (a position of authority) Roussel became a ‘real’ bailiff, rather THE bailiff of Auxerre. His position and his numerous eccentricities made him very well known by the ‘Auxerrois’. For real Francophiles, see and

ust behind, almost next to where we were moored the Place Saint-Nicolas is to be found, the centre of Auxerre’s river-related quarter. The inn in the background has since the 18th century a multi-coloured wooden statue of the saint in its front-wall. A nice feature is the fountain, called ‘Fontaine Saint-Germain’, dating from 1832 and created by an Italian artist – his name unknown to us.

Auxerre is a town dating back to Gallo-Roman times – then named Autissiodorum (as one would have guessed). We would never dare to state that this street is that old, but old it certainly is. The combination of both view and colours is lovely and we hope you like it too.

And now something completely different. Here’s the house on 100, Rue de Paris. France’s most infamous criminal of the XXth century, Marcel Petiot, was born here on the 17th of January 1897. During the German occupation, working as a doctor in Paris, he was the serial killer of numerous helpless victims. After the war he was sentenced to death and beheaded on 25 May 1946 by the guillotine. For more information see (Copyright Corry Gresnigt-van Leest.)

Although the weather was in our favour most of the time during our tour, sometimes the sky became really ominous. Like here, when we were admiring La Palais de Justice. It offered us the opportunity to make a dramatic picture before retiring inside a ‘tabac’ for a coffee while watching the rain falling down.

If you have the impression it’s Rue Belle Pier we’re looking at your absolutely right. There is no more to tell about it than that it was the charming look, enhanced by the balcony, which forced us to picture it.

Auxerre’s focal point is without any doubt La tour de l'Horloge. Apart from the cathedral, that is. The tower dates back to the XVth century. We preferred to picture it from almost underneath and hope you appreciate the effect of it.

Here’s the entrance of La cathédrale Saint-Étienne d'Auxerre. Its construction started in 1215 and finished during the XVIth century. Did people have patience in those days, or what? More about this cathedral can be found through this link

This photo differs substantially from what we are used to publish through our weblog. Therefore it is an exception – but a nice one, we hope. It is a tradition, when we visit a church (most of the time a cathedral, France has got loads of them) to think of our family and friends and to burn a candle for them. That is what happened in Auxerre as well. So you now know for sure: we hope all people we love and know and are important to us are in good shape!

Minutes after returning back home the weather turned really bad; even nastier than a few hours before. It’s a spectacular picture, even more so when seen from inside a protecting and safe wheelhouse.

Auxerre was our home for three days and we loved every minute of it. But it can’t last forever, after all our lifestyle is a nomadic one. So off we went again, on Friday the 22nd at 10:24AM, now officially permanently on the river but during this journey for 5 kilometers (over 3 miles) on a rather boring ‘Dérivation de Gurgy’ where most of the trees were cut off and a lot of debris was floating in the water. We cruised for 6 hours and 20 minutes, 8 locks included, and propelled away some 20 kilometers (12,5 miles). We skipped Gurgy on the way and should not have done that because the next mooring space came in sight some 10 kilometers (over 6 miles) further on. Finally we moored in front of lock 9 ‘La Gravière ’, close to a town called Charmoy, at 4:43PM. NOTE: see the ONLY flower box on top of our roof, in front of the wheelhouse and refresh your memory by looking again at the second picture. One flower box was stolen(!) during the first night when we were moored in Auxerre. That was an easy job; as the second picture shows the box could be lifted from the boat without the need to step onto her. We were not, repeat: not, pleased.

The next day, Saturday the 23rd, we entered the first lock of the day at 11:17AM, 5 minutes after leaving the overnight mooring space. As we were planning to enter Migennes’ basin at the beginning of Le Canal de Bourgogne there were only two locks to tackle that day, the first downstream (river), the other one upstream (canal). At PK 22, in the middle of the bend between the Pont de Migennes and the Pont de Charmoy we encountered this tiny and seemingly unstable fishing boat, containing no less than 4 people (the second woman’s head is just visible between the two men). They seemed to feel at ease as they waved merrily to us. It was worth a picture, we thought. (Copyright Corry Gresnigt-van Leest.)

We reached the deep lock, the entrance to Le Canal de Bourgonje, around 11:30AM. There was no reaction on VHF12. According to our Fluviacarte 20 that is – it’s possibly VHF69 now. Anyway, the gates were closed, so the lock keeper might have been occupied by working on the second lock of the canal at a distance of 1,4 kilometer (less than a mile). We did not fancy waiting and decided to try to moor for the night at Laroche-Saint-Cydroine, having done only one lock that day – a unique event. We succeeded, although a boat coming out of the lock (just visible in the distance, the lock that is) reached the spot seconds earlier than we did. We stopped the engine at 12:07PM and had to share only during the lunch-break. After that we remained the sole occupants for the night. The electricity-connection did look very inviting, so we connected our 30 meter long cable. There was no electricity. Putting away the cable again a passing boat stopped because, quite understandable, the people on it had the impression that we were leaving. We had to disappoint them.

Our plan, to moor in Migennes’ basin, was executed the next day, Sunday (Whitsun). We biked to the lock first (only a ten minutes ride one way) and agreed with the lock keeper on duty for a passage at 11:30AM. Therefore we left our mooring spot full of confidence at 11:15AM and arrived at the lock 11:30AM sharp. Two (loca)boats were floating in front of us and the lock was not prepared – no good signs. To make a long story short: the two boats in front of us, not being very experienced and unaware of the events around them (us in this case), combined with a lock keeper in low gear, left the lock exactly at noon, when the lock keeper’s lunch break starts. Conspicuously avoiding to look in our direction he disappeared, leaving us on our own for another hour. So far for the brand-new, that same morning made agreement. Eventually we moored in the basin around 1:30PM. The picture offers a clear idea of the basin’s features. The deep lock (5,2 meters, over 17 foot) on the left, Le Boat’s hire base, us in the left hand background and Le Canal de Bourgogne continuing between the rows of trees in the background. We have had an appointment to be in the dry dock in April 2013. The dock proved to be too shallow, so we were lifted out of the water elsewhere instead. Now we’re here for checking our engine and/or gearbox by a professional engineer because sometimes irregularities occur when the engine is running. That feels uneasy, especially when cruising on a river. A second reason for being here is the adjacent train station. Our visitor will leave us from here to travel back to The Netherlands. That’s it for this week. Bye bye.