Clamecy - Vermenton

On Sunday the 17th of May the male half of the two of us left from Clamecy by train to pick up our youngest grandson (Liam) for a week-long holiday. After half an hour unnerving delay at Clamecy (the entire region was cut off from electricity!) and a change at Auxerre, Paris’ Gare de Lyon was reached in time.

Grandson was handed over at Gare de Lyon by his father; they both travelled from The Netherlands by the ever-so-popular Thalys (TGV between Amsterdam and Paris; like London’s Eurostar). The frequency of trains between Paris and Clamecy is rather low, especially on Sunday, so grandson and –dad killed time while sitting at an outdoor café, being part of Paris’ Port d’Arsenal, having a drink, playing cards and…

…enjoying the view of the moored boats –and some moving- inside the Port.

Pretty late, almost half an hour after 6:00PM, the train towards Clamecy left Gare de Lyon. We were lucky as the expected change of trains at Auxerre proved to be not necessary. All trains towards Auxerre and beyond were ‘knotted together’ and on the way the rear parts were disconnected. So we had to make a long walk at Gare de Lyon in order to be sitting in the front part of the train – ending up at Clamecy. As this picture proves, we succeded. Grandson was already awake since around 5:00AM! He never gave in and remained active until going to bed around 10:30PM.

The next day, Monday the 18th, the river Yonne was still closed for navigation. Subsequently a part of our activities that day was exploring Clamecy. New for him, still enjoyable for his grandparents. It’s a joy to be with a grandchild and Clamecy is a pretty little town.

The Yonne being closed for navigation did not stop a modern team of ‘flotteurs’ to come from the river (upstream!) into Clamecy’s lock to bring a huge raft further upstream the canal with an unknown destination – at least to us. Note the outboard motor (well, one might say inboard), being part of the raft. We are told by an expert that this is a common feature nowadays.

'Flotteurs' at work

Slowly manoeuvring out of the lock.

Job done. That’s to say, the lock is tackled and the journey is to be continued. Slowly, very slowly…

Grandson and –ma obviously enjoying themselves. In the shade self-evidently, the weather was gorgeous and did not worsen for almost the entire week. Lucky us because it’s not easy to entertain a young kid when it’s rainy or cold.

At long last we were allowed to go down onto the river on Tuesday the 19th of May, 10:25AM. One of the first things we did was redeem a promise we made to our grandson: steering the boat. Here he’s seen on the wheel, closely checked by his granddad. After this renewed experience –he was handed over the steering wheel before, on the wide river Seine- he abstained, having discovered that steering on a canal can be real work, especially when over steering, correcting, turning back again and so on. In short, when zigzagging.

What does one do in a lock and how? Grandson observes his granddad's activities with the highest interest. (A few years ago he uttered his wish to be a lock keeper in France. Motivation: riding the moped! Fair enough, we thought.)

Operating a lock

Yes, here our young hero closes a lock gate after we entered the lock. We might be slightly prejudiced but we cherish this short video highly.

After a distance of 19 kilometers (almost 12 miles) and having descended 8 locks, we moored in Châtel-Censoir’s ‘port de plaisance’ at 3:30PM. It’s a picturesque village, but unfortunately we are unable to show you everything… It would really be too much!

L'Yonne and Le Canal du Nivernais

On we went, the next day, Wednesday the 13th, 10:47AM. As one might have noticed Le Canal du Nivernais is now formed in turn by the river Yonne and the artificial, dug out, parts. This video shows sailing on the river, approaching a weir and led onto an artificial part of the system again. Towards the end of the movie we pass a stop gate (‘porte de garde’), to be closed when the river is in spate. That was necessary only 1½ weeks back! Now it looks all peaceful and birdsong is been heard all over the place.

That day we cruised for 3¾ hours, descended 6 locks and moored at Mailly-le-Ville, overlooked by a statue of an attractive female, holding a dove. The last lock is just not visible on the right hand side; the river, coming from the left, acts as the navigable waterway again. We have to admit that we moored facing downstream which is close to a deadly sin. It's because we prefer to be able to enter/leave our ship on the starboard side. We promise not to do this again – unless absolutely unavoidable, which was certainly not the case here.

Close to where we were moored there’s a snack bar, offering more or less ‘normal’ food as well. We went there, partly because of the convenience, partly because of our young visitor (frites, ice-cream!). Here are the colours of sunset, visible when we were sitting outside. The yellow-ish colours are no flowers, really. It’s all caused by the setting sun. A magnificent view it was, only lasting for a few minutes.

On Thursday 14 we left Mailly-le-Ville 10:15AM for Vermenton, our intended next mooring opportunity – because of the presence of a railway station and the need to pick up a car at Auxerre. If the river Yonne would not have stopped us we’d have been in Auxerre today, but rivers are beautiful as well as fickle. Vermenton proved to be very popular, next to being busy with hire boats. The exploiter nevertheless created a space for us, so we were able to switch off the engine after 4 hours, 12 kilometers (7,5 miles) and 7 locks included.

The next day, Friday the 15th, we were able to travel to Auxerre by train to pick up a rented car (Herz). On the Internet a Peugeot 208, diesel-fuelled, was suggested. ‘Oh, that’s OK’ we thought – and secretly hoped for a cruise-control device too. What was handed over to us was this Fiat 500 – what more can one expect for a mere € 52,49 for 3 days? However, equipped with a diesel engine, considered the most important thing because we had to drive around 1.400 kilometers (875 miles) on the Saturday and Sunday – to the centre of The Netherlands and back. Our grandson was handed back to his parents on Saturday and, surprise, surprise, we have to admit that the tiny Fiat 500 was a lot more than expected. In fact it did offer decent comfort and we have even overtaken several BMW’s and the likes on the way. Of course the BMW’s and the likes might have been driven by chicken – one never knows. Week 21, the last one, will be published coming Tuesday, we hope. Bye for now.