Wednesday, 9 June 2021

St-Sauveur (cuckoo mooring)

Early morning at St-Sauveur

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.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Maxilly-sur-Saône (incongruity of protecting edible frogs)

We retrieved some of the mossie nets Karen made three years ago from the underbed storage recently as they’re such a boon keeping out all sorts of insects and maintaining a breeze through the boat.  The window glass is taken out and replaced with the purpose made netting that cleverly springs into the shape of the hole.  We’ve only replaced the four porthole windows so far this year, but it makes such a difference.  We also leave the top half of the front stable doors open and put a net in place, so we can sleep with the doors open.  The only drawback is that if we hear particularly heavy rain one night then it’ll be a mad scramble to put the windows back and shut the doors!

While on insects, the daylong cricket chorus seems to be constant at the moment and we love listening to them while lying in bed.  Combine that with the birdsong and frogs croaking and it’s a wonderful sound at this time of year.  I do wish I could recognise birds from their song like two friends in particular, Martin Hallam & Stephen Knapp, who are experts in their field making me most envious.  I remembered that in the 1960s my dad and my brother, Adrian, listened to birdsong LPs for seemingly hours.  It certainly taught them a lot about birdsong recognition, but I do recall that my dad wouldn’t listen to any of my LPs of the time such as Pink Floyd, Yes and Gong.

It was cloudy and muggy when we set off just before nine on Thursday and it wasn’t long before we were at the top lock where Karen had left the car the previous day.  As we were going downhill after that lock it would be a much simpler for one person to go through the locks on their own, so Karen and Buddy took the car to Piépape, where we hoped to stop for lunch, and then ran back up to meet me. 

After a while I was at the 4820-metre long Balesmes-sur-Marne tunnel.  As it operates one-way only, a traffic light system is in place operated by our lock télécommande.  I assume that because we’d agreed our start time with VNF that the tunnel lights immediately went green when I summoned them.  The lights at both sides are about a kilometre from the tunnel entrances as there are narrow sections leading up to each portal.

Green for go – 218 is (or was) the identity of our télécommande

The tunnel was typical of many French tunnels, stone lined, towpath on one side, fully lit and pairs of extractor fans every so often as there were no air vents.

Stone lined, lit, towpath and extractor fans

I emerged from the southern end about 40 minutes later into clearing skies and, arriving at the first lock the other side, I tied to a mooring post as I could see a boat was coming up. 

Waiting for the top lock next to a relatively fresh wood pile

While I was waiting, Karen & Buddy appeared, this was a lot earlier in the journey than we expected to meet so they had made good time.  The top lock is the control centre for the Saône side of the summit, and we gave the éclusiers details of where we were going and where we were expecting to moor each day.  They were most helpful about the conditions and places to moor and asked that if we change our minds and want to make other arrangements then we should just ring them.  I asked the éclusiere if we could exchange our télécommande as it needed a bit of brute force to get it to function.  She happily took it into the control centre but clearly the éclusier she was talking to about it wasn’t that keen on doing it.  She obviously talked him into it and came out with a replacement for us.

Top lock and the control centre

This was our first downhill lock since we left Châlons-en-Champagne over three months ago and about 200 kilometres away.  After refreshing our memories on how to handle locks single handily when going downhill Karen went inside as she had some offline work to do it and left me and Buddy to our own devices.  The first eight locks were close together and quite deep at over five metres each.  They were in a chain so as I exited one the next one had already set itself and was ready for us.  The only problem was that I had to use the operating rods, on one side, to empty each lock.  Well, it was only a problem if I forgot and went in the wrong side of the lock.  After making that mistake once and struggling to get the boat over to the correct side, I made sure I didn’t do it again.   

One of the locks in the chain – operating rods on the right

Going down on the correct side

The lock cottages were built to a different style to those on the Marne side of the summit and had rather quaint steps up to the doors at the front:

The lock information plates on the cottages were of the same design but quite a few had been replaced by modern equivalents:

The bottom one is clearly a modern replacement

The remaining locks of the day were shallower at around 3,5 metres and as they weren’t in a chain, I could use the télécommande rather than operating rods.  This was useful as it meant not having to touch anything, thus obviating the need for anti-bac.   The replacement télécommande (no. 202) worked perfectly all the way down to Piépape where we moored for lunch.   It was just as well we were mooring as I needed to stop as something was going wrong with the gear operation.  Over the last couple of locks, it had become increasingly difficult to change from forward to reverse or vice versa so something was clearly not right.  It needed looking at urgently to avoid ending up in a dangerous situation where I needed to change gear quickly.

Moored at Piépape for lunch

I let the engine cool while we had lunch then set about sorting out the problem.  It transpired that a bolt holding part of the gear linkage in place had worked itself loose, so it didn’t take long to get it sorted.  I’d had it apart a couple of years ago when replacing a cable so I can’t have tightened it to the right torque.  I’ve added it to the list of things to check when doing the engine service.  Once all was finished, Karen and Buddy drove down to Dommarien where we were mooring for the night and then walked back to meet me on my way down.

One of the lock cottages I went past had a little plaque indicating it had been renovated.  The sign also showed the source of the funds for the project, the largest contribution, 46%, being from an EU fund and 25% came from the village council, the remainder was split between the state and the Grand-Est region.

The canal on the north side of the summit follows the Marne valley, on this side it follows the Vingeanne valley, which means many places are named xxx-sur-Vingeanne which becomes quite a mouthful especially Montigny-Mornay-Villeneuve-sur-Vingeanne.   Being more remote meant there were fewer bridges but, again, the style had changed, and we were back to iron structures:

After picking Karen and Buddy up it wasn’t long before we were mooring up at Dommarien.

Moored at Dommarien for Thursday night

On Thursday we covered 23 kilometres down 16 locks.  After allowing time for lunch and repairs the journey took 6½ hours which equated to 6 lock-kilometres an hour (4.6 lock-miles an hour).

We had a different approach to cruising and car moving on Friday as Karen had to drive to Chaumont for her final vaccination and as it was over an hour’s drive each way she was clearly going to be away for some while.  We set off at 9.00am with Karen and Buddy walking down to meet me at the second lock. That way Buddy would get his morning walk and Karen would then walk back to Dommarien for the car, timing it right to get to her appointment on time.

Karen starting her walk back to Dommarien…
…and saying goodbye to her boys

As she drove out of Dommarien she spotted a riverside lavoir and couldn’t resist stopping to have a look.  She took a dozen or so pictures proving that it’s not just me who has a passion for these buildings.

Nice location for a lavoir
Washing stone alongside the river

As expected we really were in a remote part of the country with rarely any sign of habitation other than lock cottages and the occasional farmhouse.

A rare sight of a village - Percey-le-Grand

After a few locks we crossed a departmental boundary, going from Haute-Marne into Côte d’Or.  For some reason VNF had only installed a sign showing this for travellers going north.

The border

Not only were we changing départements we were moving into a new region, leaving Grand-Est and entering Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.  These names were introduced in 2016 so are not as well-known or as recognisable as the previous ones.  27 regions became 13 and in old money we were leaving Champagne-Ardennes and entering Burgundy. 

Considering that the canal had to be closed last year because of the volume of weed we’ve been amazed how little we have seen.  Not only have they cleared the weed, but overhanging trees and shrubs have also been well managed.  There are still occasional pounds with some weed in such as this one approaching lock 26, St-Maurice.

The lock cottage at lock 26 is now a restaurant but wasn’t open when I went through.

Restaurant at lock 26

It probably wouldn’t have been that pleasant for diners looking out over the weedy mooring and lock approach.

Not a particular pleasant mooring on the right for the restaurant

Another iron accommodation bridge

My journey went well until the eleventh lock where I wasted 30 minutes because the lock refused to recognise the télécommande.  When I called the control centre they managed to reset the lock remotely but once I was in, the télécommande still wasn't working and the gates remained resolutely open.   I wasted more time trying to avoid calling the control centre again but in the end I had to and I was rather embarrassed because I hadn’t realised that the mechanism reverts to manual when they intervene, therefore I had to use the operating rods rather than the télécommande.   

When I arrived at the next lock I could see a hotel boat coming up so hung back to give them room on their exit.  It soon became clear that the gates weren’t opening for them so secretly I was a bit pleased that it wasn’t just us that has problems.  This time it was well over 30 minutes before the lock was working and they were on their way.  

Hotel boat stuck

By this time, Karen had got back from Chaumont, driven further downstream to St-Seine-sur-Vingeanne, left the car and had walked up to meet me.   We made the rest of the journey together down to where she’d left the car at a small mooring just before the lock.

Moored at St-Seine-sur-Vingeanne

As we were mooring, a white admiral visited the boat flowers which was a lovely sign as that particular butterfly is one of my favourite summer butterflies.  It was quite a good spot for wildlife as we were able to watch frogs and crayfish through the side hatch during the evening.  I’m not that up on crayfish but suspect they were the invasive American crayfish.  Still, it was interesting seeing them hiding under stones and darting out for prey every so often.  An edible frog had taken a liking to a ledge just outside the hatch:

Our edible frog

I didn’t know that there are 18 species of frogs and toads in France and I also didn’t know that edible frogs are a protected species.  Typical of French rules, the edible frog isn’t protected if you’re capturing them for yourself or your family.  As Sophie pointed out on a call later, they hadn’t accounted for us having nine children when that law was made.

It had been even hotter on Friday, so we weren’t surprised to hear thunder rolling around during the evening.  Buddy was so hot that he couldn’t be bothered to stand up to eat his dinner!

We've never seen him this lazy

On Friday we cruised 22 kilometres down 13 locks and were still keeping to our target of reaching the bottom of the canal by the end of Saturday. 

We heard rain off and on during the night and knew rain was also forecast for Saturday.  As it was going to be warm still, we weren’t going to let the rain stop us from continuing with our plan.  It turned out not to be as bad as expected and it was more drizzle than rain and by the afternoon it was dry and the sun came out in the early evening.  Karen drove the car to Blagny, the halfway point of the day’s journey and walked back to meet me as I came down.

It was grey pretty much all day

Our timing went out almost immediately as the entry sluices at the first two locks were choked with weed and took forever to fill even with an éclusier constantly using a drag rake to remove the weed.  This delay was further compounded when at the third lock I pressed montant (upstream) instead of avalant (downstream) on the télécommande.  This meant the lock set itself for a non-existent boat coming upstream.  A magic eye at the lock entrance ensures the lock won’t continue operating until it sees a boat enter the lock.  Of course, magic eyes can’t see imaginary boats, so the bottom gates remained open.  This meant an apologetic call to the control centre who laughed but sent a guy out to sort things out.

He was really helpful and chatty (we’d also seen him the previous day) and wondered where Karen was, and I explained she was moving the car.  He said he would drive down and pick her up in case it started raining heavily.  I said she had Buddy with her, but he replied that it wasn’t a problem as he could go in the back of the van.  I knew she wouldn’t be happy with this so when he left, I phoned to warn her.  As it was, she was only a couple of kilometres away by this time, so he didn’t insist when she declined his invitation.

When we reached Blagny, Karen took the car again and left it three kilometres short of our destination and once again walked back to meet me.  The rest of the trip was uneventful with no villages to see other than Cheuge where the éclusier was on hand to operate the only lift bridge on the Saône side of the summit. 

Lift bridge at Cheuge

He warned me that a commercial was on its way and, as luck would have it, we met on a straightish section, so even that went without a hitch.    A bit further on we went under the impressive railway viaduct at Oisilly but unfortunately it was obscured from view for most of the time by trees.

Oisilly viaduct, opened in 1888

Looking backwards

When we reached Maxilly-sur-Saône we could see there was another boat at the mooring.  The couple on board came out to greet us; they were Brits who’ve been living on their seagoing boat in the Med for the last six years.  They were now on their way back to the UK via Calais and were keen to pick our brains about the journey up to Calais as the canals were all new to them.

They told us that as we were arriving, they couldn’t see our stern flag so couldn’t tell our nationality; however, when they saw Karen emerge from the cratch to moor up they knew immediately that we were English as she had a mug of tea in one hand!

Moored at Maxilly-sur-Saône

On Saturday we cruised 26 kilometres down 13 locks and are looking forward to relaxing for a while after three long (for us) days.




Thursday, 3 June 2021

Lac de la Liez (the other end of the Marne)

At Lac de la Liez for Wednesday night

With the hot weather, Buddy's started getting up a couple of hours earlier just so he can go outside and carry on sleeping.

Buddy at 7.30am

 Here he is at 7.30pm - two hours after his normal bedtime:

Buddy ay 7.30pm

Sunday was a scouting day for us, and I promise that I’m not about to flood you with pictures of the many lavoirs we stumbled across during the day.  I will, however, show you just one picture as it encompasses the subjects that would normally be covered by several. This means that not only do you avoid lots of lavoir pictures, you also only have one that usually takes several - you win on two counts.  So, here’s the lavoir in Balesmes-sur-Marne that’s been converted into a mairie and post office and not only that, the church is in view too!

The lavoir, mairie, post office and church of Balesmes-sur-Marne all in one

The next leg of our journey is to go through the five kilometre tunnel on the summit and 75 kilometres down the other side to join the river Saône.  We’d heard various stories about the other side having no facilities as it is so remote so thought we’d better check it out.  In the end what was going to be a three- or four-hour trip turned into being all day.  The main thing was to check where there was a decent internet signal for Karen to work.  In the end we didn’t find anywhere suitable until a couple of kilometres from the far end. 

Not only was the internet poor or non-existent there were no water points either so that's two reasons why we can't keep up our current slow pace.  The three places marked as having water were all at lock cottages.  Sure enough there were outside taps present but all were labelled up as ‘non potable’.  Karen checked with the éclusiers at the lock at Renève and they confirmed the water was no longer drinkable.  They did offer to fill up her water bottle as it was such a warm day.

Karen waiting for her bottle to be filled

Our first stop was at the final lock before the tunnel just to make sure we could leave the car there.  As usual, there was plenty of space for a car, but we were intrigued to see the power to the lock cottage was held up by some makeshift woodwork.

Karen said it was my sort of bodge job

As we were near the source of the river Marne, we made that our next stop and it also gave us and Buddy a chance to have a bit of a walk.  It was very poorly signposted, but we knew it was somewhere above the tunnel and made our way up a track on what looked like the highest hill around.   After a while we found a stream crossing the path and followed it uphill through the woods.  It wasn’t long before we came to a grating covering the point where the Marne escaped as a spring through the limestone.

The grating and surrounding structure were installed in 1877

There was an information board at the site explaining that in Gallo-Roman times rivers and springs were venerated and excavations around the area have unearthed the foundations of several buildings around 2000 years old including those of a spa.

At 525 kilometres (326 miles) the Marne is the longest tributary river in France joining the Seine in the southern suburbs of Paris.  That makes it half as long again as the River Severn, the longest river in the UK.  The Marne is navigable over the first 183 kilometres (113 miles) and is canalised for a further 154 kilometres (90 miles).  Over the last three years we've cruised the entire 200+ miles, some sections more than once, and we've enjoyed every bit of it.  We would recommend visiting places along the way from the built-up area down in Paris, through the Marne battlefields and villages of Champagne to the canalised section in the south as it passes through the upper Marne valley where we've been cruising recently.

Here we were joining the Marne after leaving the centre of Paris on an uncharacteristic cloudy day during the long hot summer of 2019.

Seine-Marne confluence (Marne to the left)

Anyway, back to the scouting trip: it wasn’t until we reached Maxilly-sur-Saône which is nearly at the end of the canal that we found somewhere suitable that had both water and an internet signal.  Electricity was also available but that’s not on our list of requirements, especially now summer seems to be here.  A helpful sign explained that tokens for the bornes were available from the mairie and three shops in the village.  Upon investigation we found the mairie was only open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, the hairdressers on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and the other two shops had closed down. 

When we thought about it, getting tokens didn’t really matter as we would fill up the tank when we leave Langres and as we were getting to Maxilly-sur-Saône in four days, we wouldn’t need any more for a further ten days or so after that.  The signal was the important thing so we could stay there for a good few days while exploring the area and it means Karen can get on with some work too. 

Out of date, multi-lingual welcome sign

We’d come to the realisation that we would need to get down to Maxilly-sur-Saône over three days of a long weekend travelling around 25 kilometres through 16 or so locks each day.  That’s a lot compared with what we’ve been used to this year, but we were both rather excited about the prospect.  Moving the car down there at the same time will be fun as there are no trains or buses to help but at least we’re going downhill so one of us can sort out the car while the other brings the boat down the locks on their own.  The current thoughts are that we will go down this coming weekend as we’ll both have had our second jabs in Chaumont and there’s nothing else to stop us moving on.

As we’d reached the Saône valley we decided to scout upriver for a while before heading home.  Gray was the first major town we came to and the riverbanks in the centre were lined with mooring rings and water points without a boat in sight.  After visiting a couple more spots we realised there were plenty of places to moor on the river so turned and headed north back to the boat.

The blue line on the map below shows where we’ve cruised so far this year.  The red takes us down to the Saône and then continues into the Canal des Vosges up to Nancy where we’ll turn right onto the Canal du Marne au Rhin to make for Strasbourg.

The up to date, current, latest plan (we think)

Much of the day we’d been travelling through two new départements. Côte d’Or and Haute-Saône.  We’d noticed the style of lavoirs had become grander and more palatial like this example at Oyrières.

When we got back to Langres, Karen popped into a supermarket for a couple of things and at the checkout was presented with a rose for mothers’ day which she found rather touching.

On Monday morning we drove back to Chaumont so I could have my second jab, receive my final vaccination certificate and electronic covid passport.  Technically it was my third jab as I’d had my first in the UK but as it was the Oxford vaccine I couldn’t get a second one in France so restarted the process with Pfizer six weeks ago, the interval followed in France.

During a walk later in the afternoon we came across several butterfly species that were clearly just emerging for the first time this year.  We also saw grizzled and dingy skippers – two great, incongruous names that really belie the beauty of the insects.

Tuesday was a workday for Karen and as I needed to post some documents, I took the opportunity to have another look around Langres.  The gate I chose to walk through to get into the town had wooden doors; the first gate we’ve seen in Langres that seemed to have working doors.

Porte de l’hôtel de ville

What’s good about a walled town is that it’s difficult to get lost as you just need to walk in a straight line, and you’ll reach the walls.  Its then a matter of walking around them until you get to the point you entered.   

I took my first ever solo selfie, sitting on Diderot’s bench…

…and I also thought I should include a picture of the mairie that was built in 1774 after the total destruction of the previous building following a fire.

I felt a bit fazed from the previous day’s jab so didn’t do a lot else for the rest of the day other than have a short walk.  I was fortunate to find a female mazarine blue that appeared to be egg laying judging by the position she was holding her abdomen.  It’s a shame this species has been extinct in the UK since the late 1800s and I suppose we will never find out the reason. Over-collecting is often cited as a reason for declines or total eradication of the population of some species, but changes in farming practices can have a large impact as well as the industrial revolution.

Ooops - a bit too close

It's the male mazarine blue that has the lovely blue colour giving rise to its name but you can just see a light dusting of blue on this female.

On Wednesday morning Karen took the car up to the tunnel and ran back ready for our departure in the afternoon.  During the week, a notice had gone up on the port noticeboard indicating that from 1st June charges will apply to overnight moorers which meant that we would have to pay for one night.  When I went to settle up, I was presented with a bill for €8,44 which included €0,44 for tourist tax.  The €8 was the overnight charge for boats less than 10 metres long, although we’re 17 metres so I don’t think much of their measuring stick.

Over the next few days it will continue to be hot, but there’s a risk of thunderstorms which no doubt will happen when we’re cruising especially as we’ve got three long days ahead.  We’d arranged with VNF to leave at 4.00pm but as we were ready before 3.00pm I gave them a quick call to rearrange the time.  It was beginning to get busy at the port in Langres as three French motor yachts had turned up over the last couple of days.   The latest one to arrive left at the same time as us but in the opposite direction as they were off to Le Harve and then into the Channel, but I couldn’t understand where they were heading after that.

It had got quite breezy with the odd cloud, but we avoided any rain.  I hope the same happens over the next three days when we have our push down to Maxilly-sur-Saône although it’s always nice and refreshing to have a thunderstorm when the weather’s hot.

Wispy clouds at our one and only lock of the day

We moored up by the Lac de la Liez that we visited the other day and were rather glad of the tall trees giving shade later in the evening after being quite exposed at Langres for the last seven days.

Our own dinner table at Lac de la Liez by an accommodation bridge 

On Wednesday we cruised just over a mile up one lock.

To finish, here are some of the lavoirs we came across on Sunday.  More details can be found by clicking here or on the Lavoir link on the right hand menu.