Pont-d'Ouche - Plombières-lès-Dijon

Because of the torrential downpours we had to stay at Pont d'Ouche for a week and could only leave on Wednesday the 8th of May. This beautiful Dutch-built sort of Tjalk, named 'Onderneming' ('Venture', 'Enterprise') left just before us, in the opposite direction. Note the highway (litteraly!) in the background, being the A6 better known by the name 'Autoroute du Soleil'. Two entirely different worlds! We hardly heard any noise from it. In the past we traveled these A6 several times by car. No one in a car on that autoroute has even a trace of an idea of the tranquil world that exists just underneath.

That Wednesday we stopped at La Bussière-sur-Ouche. It took us two-and-a-half hours and seven locks. An uneventful cruise altogether. The next morning the captain of a hotel-boat (péniche-hôtel) complained about us being on a spot designated for mooring hotel-boats. The picture shows another hotel-boat in the foreground and us in the background. Loads of space we would say, so we considered him a genuine curmudgeon. In Dutch: 'zuurpruim' which sounds as nice as the English equivalent.

On the way there is a lot of beautiful countryside, next to the small villages, hamlets almost. On Thursday the 9th of May we passed this one. Not a living soul in sight, shutters often closed. Where is everybody?

Lovely, isn't it? Could it be England? No, it's France - Bourgogne, to be more specific.

Thursday afternoon we ended up just above lock number 34, named 'Moulin Banet'. Seven locks were what we did in a little bit more than two hours. We had read about the attractiveness of this spot because of the availability of electricity and water. Apart from that, in the lock house lives a lovely couple selling refreshments, coffees and so on - and they go to the boulangerie in the morning to buy you bread. So that's the reason it was our intended mooring for the day - and we did not regret it one bit.

The couple living in the lock house (at 'Moulin Banet') have rented the house on a long term agreement, which gave them an excellent excuse to rebuild it extensively inside and out. The result is absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately this picture does not do justice to what it looks like in reality. At least one half of the couple is of Swiss origin so there is a sign on the façade saying 'Vers le Rhin'. The direction is right; the distance from their house considerable.

Friday the 10th of May we ended up in a place called Velars-sur-Ouche. Twelve locks and five hours cruising. That soundsd almost like work! The picture shows a lot of green - even the water is green(ish)! The last time we did some serious shopping had been a fortnight before and in between we had our grandsons on board. So our fridge was virtually empty. Lucky us, this place has a supermarket, next to the road we were moored alongside and almost opposite of us. Colruyt is the name of the chain(?). A sort of mix of Aldi and Lidl, no frills at all. They do not care about conveyors too; there is an empty trolley waiting at the till and the standing lady cashier takes the shopping out of 'your' trolley, scans it and puts it in the empty trolley, thus (re)filling the empty trolley and ending up with your first trolley, now empty and available for the shoppings of the person behind you, so the scanning ritual can begin again. You pay and leave the shop with your, errr, second trolley. Clever! They even do not bother about a coin for a trolley, be it a real coin or a plastic one. And, oh magic, no trolley was in the canal!! Altogether a new experience, dear reader! (Colruyt? Belgian?)

A former lock house, changed into a 'crêperie'. One wonders whether the optimist that converted the house can make a living this way. Hopefully the boaters, bikers and walkers will do the trick during the high season.

And here we are now, since Saturday the 11th, having cruised for less than two hours and descending four locks. Plombières-lès-Dijon is the name of the place. We will not move on Sunday and go towards nearby Dijon on Monday. Behind us is the omnipresent hotel-boat and in the background even a narrowboat!

Picture number 14 shows a notice board for visitors. Such a board is often placed next to the visitor mooring space, as the picture shows. However the visitor space is, as often is the case when approaching an urban area, occupied by boats that hardly ever move and are in fact moored there permanently and illegally. Of course they do not bother about a license! The owner of the boats in front of the picture even has built a fixed pontoon in front of the notice board with a table and chairs. The soft society in optima forma, we'd say....

This is the narrowboat again that's visible in the background two pictures before, now in the lock in front of us. His batteries were flat, so the owner was unable to start the engine. An electricity cable bridged a considerable distance (over 50 meters) between the narrowboat and our boat, we put the plug into a socket in our boat, started the generator and.... bingo! Relieved the (French!) owner of the narrowboat could start his engine and leave. Wearing a bright orange sweater in our honour, we like to think.

It is already mentioned that the Canal de Bourgogne follows the course of the river Ouche very close. Almost every bend is accurately copied and, as there are a lot of locks to be negotiated on the canal,the river indeed is a fast-flowing one. It crossed our mind that, without the apostrophe, the meaning of what is written on the sign changes significantly, not only in French but equally in Dutch and English!

Some more information about the Canal de Bourgogne. Perhaps trivial, also named 'quizz knowledge'. The towpath of the canal is very well maintained, in general. That is fully understandable, of course, because the lock keepers use it extensively for their job. Therefore one is not allowed to use the towpath, unless entiteld to do so ('ayants droit') or as a cyclist. Walkers are not mentioned, but it is safe to assume they will not be bothered. This sign is a very common one alongside the canal.

When commenting on picture number 10 the notice board was mentioned. The signs on them, about shops, restaurants, hotels and so on are often made unreadable or removed - like one of the two on this board. In general it's a sad prove of a decline in shopkeepers, hard economical times and people leaving the countryside for the cities.

To end with, a nice picture of the towpath, used by a couple on their bikes. We think that a holiday on a bike in France, using the towpath alongside a canal or river, must be a great experience - especially for the ones (yours truly, for instance) that like to avoid steep slopes or hills or, even worse, mountains. Next to a waterway there is only the odd lock. A reason to have a break, look at an ascending or descending boat and have a chat with someone.