We‘d planned to take it easy on Sunday as we’d been in different locations on each of the previous six nights but we soon noticed that the internet signal at Maxilly-sur-Saône wasn’t as good as we’d thought it was going to be. It seemed to be quite intermittent, therefore not reliable enough for Karen to work there for her three days in the coming week, so we decided to fetch the car from St-Sauveur lock and do a bit more scouting along the river Saône.
We walked along the towpath to get to the lock and came across many walnut trees on the way. It seems that there are a lot more walnut trees in this area and they are finally in full leaf so are very easy to spot with seven (generally) large leaflets forming each leaf. Karen has started looking for the young fruit and has been pleased to find plenty of young budding walnuts.
|Another three or four weeks and it’ll be ready for picking for pickling|
When we reached St-Sauveur lock we found two things as well as the car. Firstly, there was a really pleasant mooring there that we’d completely overlooked and secondly the signal strength there was excellent.
As the mooring at Maxilly-sur-Saône wasn’t particularly nice and we didn’t want to move onto the river Saône for another week, we thought we’d turn the boat around and move back the three kilometres. The mooring was a single dolphin and as we’ve never used one of those before it would give us an opportunity to see how they work for us. Before moving the boat, we drove to a couple of villages down on the Saône that we missed out on checking last week. Both were between Maxilly-sur-Saône and Gray, the next main town on our itinerary. Mantoche seemed quite acceptable, but Heuilley-sur-Saône was really only suitable as a lunch stop.
|The mooring at Mantoche|
While we were having lunch back at the boat a VNF guy came to see us. We’d noticed there’d been two red lights showing all morning at the next lock down, indicating the lock was out of action, and he came to tell us that the lock would be unavailable until at least Monday. I told him it was OK as we were going back to St-Sauveur and wouldn’t be coming down again until later in the week. I’m sure he thought we were mad turning around and going back the way we’d just come.
|Turning around after lunch|
The dolphin worked perfectly; we got the back end against the platform and the front just reached a handy bollard:
We hung a zigzag fender vertically rather than in the usual horizontal position otherwise the gunwales would have been caught under the platform if a boat came past or the nearby lock was emptied.
We named the mooring after the cuckoo we heard constantly during daylight hours. We wondered if it was still trying to find a mate and had got a bit confused as it felt a bit late in the season and it really was constant every day. By the way, one thing I remember from my dad and brother’s hours of listening to birdsong LPs is that it’s the male cuckoos that make the distinctive call.
We really have hit the jackpot moving back a couple of miles as St-Sauveur is definitely one of the best, if not the best mooring on the canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne. There is a small road alongside that serves the lock cottage and then peters out into a farm track, consequently there is no traffic. Other than the lock and its cottage all we can see in every direction is countryside and all is peaceful, apart from our bachelor cuckoo, crickets and a lot of frogs calling of course.
|Lock and cottage in the distance|
A male common frog has set up his patch just outside Karen’s open ‘office’ hatch which makes us laugh as he is a particularly loud. Whenever he calls, the vocal sacs on either side of his chin blow up like bubbles which make him look quite comical but apparently, they amplify his sounds.
|Karen’s male & female common frogs (the female is the larger with 3.5” body)|
First thing on Monday, Buddy and I explored St-Sauveur which has a population of just over 200 and the old part consists of a very wide main street and then there are a few side roads where modern housing has been built.
|The main street|
The church of Ste Ursule dates back to the 13th century…
...and has a typical Burgundian tiled roof:
A small building originally housed a steam driven fire engine from 1862. According to a board outside, the building still houses a fire engine, but it dates from 1947.
|St-Sauveur fire station!|
The mairie can only be described as quaint:
The prize find was an old French carpenter’s post box, these were so called because, apart from the metal doors, they were made of wood by local carpenters. Sadly, this one was no longer in use, but it still had enamel dials indicating when the next collection would be.
|Out of use carpenter’s box in St-Sauveur|
The village had three book swap boxes and for some reason they were sandwiched between the posters for the upcoming regional elections. There are tight rules regarding electioneering posters in France whether they be for local, regional, national or EU elections. They can only be placed outside polling stations, they must all be the same size and the positions are drawn by lot.
|Book swap boxes for youngsters, teenagers and adults|
Apparently, the villagers were spared from the cholera outbreak in 1832 although the country generally suffered greatly. Even so, as was the case with many settlements, a new cemetery was started outside the village in 1833. The gate pillars to the new cemetery contain two apt lines from the poem, à la Marquise, written by one of France’s great 17th century dramatists, Pierre Corneille.
|We have been what you are. You will be what we are.|
On Tuesday morning Buddy and I walked to Maxilly-sur-Saône. Other than some exercise and sightseeing my major task was to get a token to operate the water borne when we get back to the port at Maxilly-sur-Saône. The sign at the port indicated that tokens (jetons) were available at four places in the village, two of which are closed and the other two had very limited opening hours. My target was the hairdressers and I struck lucky, exchanging €3 for a token which we shall use when we head back through on our way down to the river later in the week.
The walk was very pleasant as it was quite cloudy, so we avoided the heat of the sun. Like the UK the temperatures are steadily climbing again, and we are expecting a week or so in the 30s from the weekend. Maxilly-sur-Saône wasn’t particularly inspiring and the only establishment open was the hairdressers where I bought the token for the water. The picture I took of the high street doesn’t make the place look any more attractive, but I suppose the cloud cover didn’t help.
|Maxilly-sur-Saône high street|
Three commercials came through during the day, all heading south. Considering that we’ve only seen five during the ten weeks we’ve been on this canal, that makes it a very busy day. It was also getting busier on the frog front as it seemed more male frogs were gathering near the boat. A new species had arrived as one of the sounds was quite different and a lot louder than those we’ve become used to. It took a while adjusting to the new sound and it kept us awake during the early hours. By the way, an app has been developed as a Shazam for frogs; unfortunately, it’s only for Australian species.
I shall be driving down to St Jean de Losne on Wednesday as the mooring lines we ordered are ready. I’ll also take the opportunity to pick up some other replacement spares that we need as chandleries are very few and far between over here.