Saturday, 25 May 2019

Chailly-sur-Armançon (it’s all downhill from here)

Nearly all the lock approaches looked looked the same today

We spent the morning in Pouilly-en-Auxois as we had a few chores to do and wanted to take advantage of nearby shops.  Buddy and I went to the captainerie to pay €2 for 0.5 cubic metre of water and I explained to them that people had been appearing in their cars during the previous evening, filling up water containers and then disappearing.  I was thanked for letting them know and they agreed the whole system is based on trust so no doubt some people fill up out of hours and others take more than they pay for.

While Karen went to SuperU, Buddy and I went to find a bricolage, but it seemed the one I was looking for had now been converted to a medical laboratory.  At least it was the other side of town, so we got a bit of a walk in.  I then topped up with diesel at the SuperU and went to meet Karen to help carry the shopping home.

When we got back, we decided we would move on in the afternoon and moor out in the country for a day or two.  So, Buddy and I went off again, this time to find an éclusier, and we duly got booked in for 1.00pm at the lock leading out of the port.

Just as we were about to leave, the tunnel trip boat left for the third time that day.  It was packed with sightseers each time, so they were probably doing a good trade.

Tunnel trip boat setting off
We are now going downhill all the way until we get back to Migennes and complete our first round trip over here.  Current plan is to get back to Migennes by the 16th June – I have now booked a Eurotunnel ticket on that basis and a ticket back to France a week later.  This side of the Canal de Bourgogne runs all the way down to the River Yonne which then flows northwards to meet the River Seine and then through to Paris.  We have 113 locks left to do which is quite a few when we consider we only have 155 kilometres left to travel.

Heading for the first lock of the afternoon – lock number 1 on the Yonne side of the summit
The éclusier asked how far we were going and when we told him that we wanted to moor up after the seventh lock I think he thought we were a bit mad as it was in the middle of nowhere.  When we told him we would probably not move on tomorrow he really looked at us strangely.  He gave me his telephone number and said I should call him when we decide to move on.

The first lock was manually operated but the following six were automatic and, as they were all set for us, we were down the flight and moored up in a little over an hour.

Each of the six automatic locks looked the same, even the approach as can be seen in the picture at the top.  The lock cottages were yet another different style to ones we have seen before and one had had, what we thought, an out of character new extension.

Lovely place to live though 
Karen walked Buddy down the first couple of locks, but he wasn’t really interested as it was a hot day, so they came back on the boat at the third lock.  We were glad we had bought a sunshade for the rear deck too.

Moored for the rest of Thursday and probably Friday at the bottom of lock seven
The bottom gates of the lock behind our mooring were left open so we could hear the constant tumbling of water leaking through the top gates.  We find it such a soothing sound and reminded both of us of the many nights we have moored at Welsh Road lock on the Grand Union with the same sound.  Obviously, we have moored at other locks where we can hear the water but for some reason, we were both reminded independently of Welsh Road.

Charolais investigating the incomers
On Thursday we cruised two kilometres down seven locks.

We enjoyed our overnight mooring so much that we decided to stay put on Friday.  In the morning we walked a couple of miles up to the nearest village, Chailly-sur-Armançon, and had a nose around.  Apart from a golf club and a château converted to a hotel there were no retail outlets: shame, as it was the perfect weather to sit outside a bar and have a drink in the sun over lunch.

One of the village streets…
…and another
We found what looked like a feeder or irrigation channel and further investigation later informed us that it was a feeder to the Canal de Bourgogne – the ‘Rigole d'Alimentation du Réservoir de Cercey’.  This takes water from the Réservoir de Cercey and feeds it into the canal at the summit at Pouilly-en-Auxois (where we stayed on Wednesday night). 

This is the rigole, dried up outside the château…

…and rather overgrown outside the village
The château (I imagine it’s far more impressive and imposing from the other side)

The village green with a well
We are still seeing butterflies but not in the numbers that we have been recently.  Maybe it’s because we are in an extensive area of agricultural grassland with few woods and hills at present.  Still, we saw several common blues and small heaths as well as the usual orange tips, brimstones and others from the white and vanessid families.  We did see one skipper, but it didn’t rest long enough for us to identify it.

Female common blue (the uppersides are mainly brown with some blue rather than completely blue on males)
Small heath  
Poor Buddy is still finding the heat difficult; when we got home, he went straight to the canal and, after having his fill of water, found a shallow spot and stood there for about ten minutes.

Buddy cooling down
We spent the afternoon on the boat and ended up doing a few maintenance jobs that we hadn’t planned on doing for a week or two, so at least we’re ahead of ourselves.

Karen planted on her sweet pea seedlings - an annual task for the last seven years
I don’t believe I’ve mentioned our ant invasion.  We have only suffered from the odd ant in the boat and have never really had an ant problem, which is rather surprising as boats tend to be moored against vegetation most of the time.  This all changed a few days ago when we noticed ants in the cratch and in our bedroom.

It took a few days to get them under control without access to any repellent, but we were still getting a couple of dozen a day at the front of the boat.  Karen bought some ant repellent from Gamm Vert, the garden centre, when we were in Pouilly-en-Auxois and that seems to have done the trick.  The odd ant that we find in the boat now is on its last legs so to speak so it seems we have cleared them up.  We assume they got on by crawling up one of the mooring lines or when we were moored close to a bank with overhanging vegetation.

One of the jobs I did in the afternoon was clearing and cleaning out the rear lockers and funnily enough I found a tube of ant repellent.  Neither of us remember buying it and have no idea why it was there but suspect we moved it over from the old boat.

When we had got back from our walk an éclusier stopped in his van and asked if we knew when we wanted to move on and I told him 10.00am on Monday.  Early in the evening he called by again and asked if we minded starting at 10.30 rather than 10 and we said that was fine.  We asked him if any boats had come through when we were out for our walk and he told us that no boats had been through all day and we were the only one to come through yesterday.  However, he did say that there is a boat coming through tomorrow which I assume is why he changed the timings.


  1. I wonder if the boat that is coming/came through was our good friends on ‘Elle’. They should be passing you about now judging by their blog.

    1. It wasn't Elle but a French couple on a boat we have been seeing occasionally. They are heading in same direction as us and we lock shared yesterday.

  2. Also, we’ll be back on Catharina Elisabeth on the 14th June. We’d love to catch up. We’ve never seen a narrow boat cruising - or, indeed, ever been on boar one (hint, hint ...) 🤭

    1. Haha! Would be good to catch up too. My wife has been hinting that it's time we got a Dutch barge or similar but we've never been on one, so how would we know? We should be back in Migennes by 18th June.