Briare - La Chapelle-Montlinard

Tuesday the 23rd of September 2014 we said goodbye to Briare. Together with our visitors, a sister (in law) and her husband, we climbed three locks (over 8 meters, 26,5 feet), back to the level of Le Canal latéral à la Loire and, subsequently, crossed Le pont-canal de Briare. Our visitors stepped ashore just before the end of the aqueduct to walk back to their motor-home. Here we set sail again, waving good bye. We’ve had a great week end! (Copyright Riet (Uijtewaal-)van Leest.)

After 4 hours (and 1 minute, to be exact) of cruising, only four locks included, we moored at Belleville-sur-Loire at 1:56PM. One would guess this picture is the view from a bridge – and that’s exactly what it is. Despite the still gorgeous weather a bit sombre because taken in the late afternoon with the sun almost gone. Yes, we are now closer to the shortest than the longest day! It’s a very well kept and free space in Belleville, reason for staying there for three nights. In the foreground a traditional Loire-fishing boat is visible. See: (Only in French.)

On the left bank of the river Loire, close to Belleville, Le centre nucléaire de production d'électricité (CNPE) de Belleville-sur-Loire is clearly visible. CNPE de Belville-sur-Loire was built between 1979 and 1988. There are two reactors, each of them with a capacity of 1.310 megawatt (MW) which is supposed to be huge, as nowadays the average nuclear power plant produces 880MW. (The Internet is an unfailing source of information.) One of the two reactors seems to be not working as only one cooling tower impresses with the typical huge amount of steam from the cooling process. This is what it looks like in the early morning, just after dawn…

…and an hour later, when the sun still didn’t warm the air enough to force the steam to evaporate…

…followed by a ‘normal’ picture during the day. It’s odd but this view did not fail for a second to attract our attention. Last winter, accompanying a picture of the ‘Barrage de Villerest’ (close to Roanne), CNPE de Belville-sur-Loire was already mentioned because one of the barrage’s purposes is to provide Belville’s nuclear power plant with sufficient cooling water under any circumstances.

On the 26th of September, a Friday, we left Belleville 9:30 in the morning. We had to wait in front of the lock ‘Bannay’ –the last one for that day- because of the lunch break. Most of the time one sees a lot of mooring possibilities but, of course, none when needed. So we decided to remain underneath the rail bridge in front of the lock – the latter being visible in the distance. The canal narrows underneath the bridge, the ship was protected against the banks by the fenders, as there’s no current one rope kept us in place so it was not all that uncomfortable – emphasized by the sunbathing capitaine.

We cruised for 6 hours, 4 locks and ¾ of an hour waiting included, and moored at 5:30PM in the side-arm at (St-Satur - )St-Thibault. For the first time - and the last as well. We considered it unkempt, uncomfortable, in short: far from welcoming. The money that is seemingly asked for an overnight mooring is comparable to, say, Briare which is ridiculous. A note outside the capitainerie suggested that the money would be collected. We did not see anybody that evening, nor the next morning, so our stay was for free after all. We cleared out on the Saturday morning as soon as we could, literally minutes after this (morning-)picture was taken.

On the way to St-Thibault the (sympathetic) lock keeper of l’ecluse ‘Houards’ managed to confiscate all our cash by selling us several bottles of Sancerre-wine – white and rosé. We were a bit shocked by the price to be honest but u few days later we saw what was asked for a bottle of Sancerre-wine at the supermarket and felt more at ease by what he did to us! Anyway we had to find a hole in the wall at St-Thibauld, at that time still expecting someone to collect a mooring fee. Most of the time one’s bombarded with banks, isn’t it? Not when needed, though, so we crossed the canal and entered St-Satur. No cash machine there either. We did see some very nice houses though, so took the opportunity to picture one of them.

The other side of St-Satur’s face. Picturesque as this unpaved alley (in French: ruelle – a nice sounding word) may look it came to mind what it would be like to live here during the winter. However, it looks absolutely charming during the (still lasting) summer.

No hole in the wall in entire St-Satur, would you believe it? It wasn’t that we overlooked one because, when asked, we were told to march on (‘après le viaduc’). After some walking for ¾ of an hour we finally found a bank, even two. We almost arrived at Sancerre. (Sancerre is situated on a hill top. We skipped that one and limited our activities to looking up at it.) We found a little café, bought two panachés, (‘shandy’, ‘sneeuwwitje’) and, because the café did not have an outdoor space, asked for permission to consume our drinks on a little public space – just visible to the left of this picture with chairs and tables bolted to the floor. The friendly landlady agreed, after extensively examining the new 10-euro-note we just got out of the money-machine and asking us politely to bring back the glasses.

This platanus (‘plane’) provided for the shade, visible on the picture before this one. We just love platanus-trees – for more than one reason too.

A (Sancerre-) vineyard as seen during our long walk from St-Thibauld towards Sancerre. A vineyard is just photogenic, that’s the ‘problem’.

What about this picture, taken on Saturday morning, just after leaving (St-Satur - )St-Thibault. The combination colours-trees-vineyards-viaduct made it irresistible to immortalize this view while cruising.

Our aim on the Saturday was to reach a place called La Chapelle-Montlinard. Just before arriving this building on the canal bank came in sight. We have pictured it, before mother nature will have swallowed it forever.

We moored at La Chapelle-Montlinard on Saturday the 27th of September, 12:39PM. Cruising time just over 4 hours, ascended 4 locks. The mooring spot is exactly the same as shown in week 15 – 2014. This picture, of course, is taken from the opposite direction. The party was organized (by Guy Toy we think – this for all the people that know him and his wife) for the people living in the vicinity. We were invited (‘eingeladen’ as it was described, but we do digest the German language as well) but had to decline. Sunday is the only day of the week that we actually work… We can understand that no one would consider just that! This, dear reader, completes our story for this week. Au revoir!