Dijon (light acrobatics)

Moored in Dijon

On Wednesday we continued northwards up the longest straightest cut we have ever seen.  On Tuesday we travelled the first 14 kilometres and had another 13 kilometres to go before reaching the end hitting a bend!

It’s not as bad as it sounds as there is a lock every 1 – 2 kilometres which help breaks up any monotony. We arrived at our first lock to find the éclusier had a trainee with him and this pair saw us through the first four locks of the day.  He let her do the last lock on her own and she did it all almost perfectly without any mishaps.  He did point out that she walked around the lock one more time than she needed but that’s not really a problem – maybe she wanted the exercise.

L’instructeur and his protégé
It was very windy still but, according to the forecasts and the éclusiers we spoke with, it should be the last day. It was only really a problem getting out of the locks.  As we rose up each lock we were suddenly exposed to the cross wind and it really was quite a struggle to get out before being blown to the other side.  Needless to say, we asked to have both gates opened to avoid damaging them.

The lock cottage at number 67 had been replaced by a modern house; they hadn’t even retained the lock information plate, but I suppose they made it clear what the lock number was.

Écluse 67 cottage replacement

Only 10km away from Dijon
When we reached the outskirts of the Dijon-Bourgogne military airport we were asked to take an early lunch break.  Mooring wasn’t allowed between the next two locks for security reasons and there wasn’t time to get through them both by midday.

Last lock before lunch and, unusually, no lock cottage
After lunch we set off again and found the lock set for us but no éclusiers.  We went in and made ourselves secure and closed the gates and waited.  Just as I was about to call the command centre, three éclusiers turned up; two girls on scooters and a guy in a van.  We have noticed that, unlike the other canals we have travelled so far, that scooters are used in preference to vans.  Indeed, this was the first van we have seen on this canal.

Waiting for an éclusier after lunch
They apologised profusely which they needn’t as we were 10 minutes late anyway and they had arrived 10 minutes later.  The next pound was the pound where mooring wasn’t allowed as it was by the end of a runway. 

Passing the runway lights
We had read reports that we should avoid mooring near the airport because of the noise but we weren’t concerned about that as there just seemed to be the odd light aircraft doing acrobatics.  We decided we would find a sheltered spot to moor just past a lock cottage that houses a museum.

Final lock of the day, complete with canal museum
As our luck wouldn’t have it, the museum was closed but we moored up for the day anyway.  In fact, we quite enjoyed being by the airfield as we were entertained during the afternoon with pilots practising their various acrobatics including loop the loops.

Our Wednesday night mooring
During Wednesday we cruised eight kilometres up eight locks.

We heard no aircraft or indeed any noise during the night, so we were more than happy that we had moored there.  While we were having breakfast on Thursday, a hotel boat came past.  No doubt they were on their way to Dijon as that’s where a lot of hotel boats stop over for a night or two when cruising in Burgundy.

Daniele passing nice and slow
This canal is notorious for being weedy and looking out of the hatch at the hotel boat reminded me that we haven’t yet visited the weed hatch since being over here.

The weed on the Canal de Bourgogne
All that was to change, we had four visits to the weed hatch during our cruise on Thursday, the final one was in the lock at the entrance to the city of Dijon, so we had plenty of onlookers!

The weather was back to what we expected on Thursday – lovely warm sunshine and no wind 😊 An advantage of the wind having gone was that the éclusiers only had to open one gate for us thus making their job easier.

Back to normal – just the single gate open
An artist lives in the lock cottage of the first lock we went up and exhibits many of his wares around the lock and his garden.  He was outside painting a picture of a carving he had made but came over for a chat once we were up the lock.  He was very keen to understand about how we cope with living on a narrowboat.

Artist’s house at the first lock

Neptune & his wife Amphitrite (carved by the artist) provide a guard of honour by the cut
Soon after lunch we finally reached the end of the 27km dead straight cut that we have been on since joining the canal at St Jean de Losne when we left the River Saône.

Looking back at our first bend for three days
It wasn’t long before we were in the outskirts of Dijon and we were getting quite excited by the thought of visiting our first city.

A wind turbine factory on the outskirts of Dijon
As we headed for the final lock into Dijon, we passed a construction site and the guys were waving and shouting for us to toot our horn; a cement mixer was unloading, and he was tooting encouragement too.  

We have been amazed at the number of large lorries that toot us when they cross a bridge over the canal or pass us at the side.  We even had train drivers doing it as we went down the final stretch into Dijon where the cut runs parallel with a railway line.

The old and the new: tram passing over the tail of the lock in the centre of Dijon
I could feel we had collected a lot of weed on the propeller again.  I didn’t want to lose power completely when trying any tricky mooring manoeuvres in the port so I thought it best the prop was cleared before leaving the lock.   Karen held the boat in the lock while I cleared the weed hatch for the fourth and final time of the day.  I had to explain to the éclusier that we wouldn’t be leaving the lock before I cleared the prop which meant I had to have a quick foray into my phone translator as I’d forgotten the French for propeller.

We had to tie Buddy up to a bollard while we were doing all this as there were two families of geese with their goslings, eating the grass at the side of the lock.  As soon as we left the lock, we were in the port which is laid out around an island.  We decided to moor onto a pontoon as there were plenty empty; we had been warned that they tend to be full, so we were lucky.  Fortunately, we had very few onlookers as, by the time we were reversing in, the prop was choked again but we kept the revs down and just managed to get in (I must remember to clear the weed hatch before we set off 😉).

The island is in front of us and there were six hotel boats moored further to the right
Looking the other way with a host of liveaboards on their private and gated pontoons

We checked the water point as soon as we were moored and found that it wasn’t working.  In fact, none of the water points at the ends of the pontoons were working.  One of the liveaboards came down to see us soon after we were moored and said we could use the water point on their pontoon which was kind of him.  The only trouble being that we would need to borrow a couple of extra hoses as it was about 80 metres away.

We had a wander around the port to look at the hotel boats before sussing out the city and we noticed all the hotel boats have their own water points.  We will end up using one of those water points when we leave as at least one of them is bound to set off on a cruise and leave space for us to get in.

The pontoons were the shortest we have ever moored on. Probably only seven metres but at least we weren’t on a river or would have boats speeding past us, so we would remain secure.

Rather short pontoons and lots of weed
We walked around quite a bit of the city centre and were pleasantly surprised how clean and tidy it was. Neither of us have been to Dijon before other than driving past on the autoroute and we had half expected it to be quite a dingy and run-down place.  There were plenty of tourists out too and the bars and restaurants were packed. 

Some of the shopping centre sights of Dijon
We decided to do a bit of research and plan a circular route around the city on Friday.  

Our Thursday cruise took us up seven locks over eight kilometres.


Ian Carter said...

How can you advertise the fact that you are steeling water. The hotel boats have to pay for the water use! You are a disgrace to the boating community. We are British but it is people like you who make us embarrassed to fly the British flag.

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

We were there last summer for a week on one of those Hotel boats, did you know they have a prop at each end and no rudder. We also stayed in town for a couple of days,

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

Its a pity the museum was closed, its very interesting

Neil & Karen Payne said...

That's really interesting Brian. How do the hotel boats cope with the excessive amount of weed in the Dijon section?

Neil & Karen Payne said...

That's an interesting attitude you have. Not only did éclusiers tell us to take water when a hotel boat spot becomes free, our beloved boating community also gave the same advice, including going between 12 and 1 because you know you won't be stealing a hotel boat mooring. I do hope you can feel part of the boating community now you know this and also you can be proud to be British again! It looks like we'll be passing in a couple of weeks or so so we'll look out for you and give you a cheery wave.

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Ooops - I think you're behind us so we won't be passing in a couple of weeks, maybe another time.

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

I don't recall a problem but last week on the Loire Canal the crew were in the water with a bread knife on one occasion and several times they used the boat hook while in a lock. I will put a photo on Facebook

Ian Carter said...

We have been part of the professional boating community for 35 years, on 4 continents. It is never acceptable to take what someone else has paid for. Third party permission is not permission: did the éclusier or your boating community consult the hotel boat owners? I'm sorry, but your reply just reinforces our standpoint.

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Hi Sian. It is never acceptable to steal whether or not you're part of a boating community. If you read my response to Shaun you will see I share the same point of view as you. Cheers, Neil

Anonymous said...

We have been reading these comments with interest. Just a few notes: 1. The lockkeepers work for the VNF and have no say over municipal ports about who may use what water and/or electricity or not. 2. The fact that the general taps were not working at Dijon may indicate that one would have to approach the Mairie to ascertain what the issue with the taps was where you would probably have been told to pay a small fee to have them connected. Being told to use hotel boat water between 12 and 1pm "when they are not there" does not sound right. 3. Any literature on the Franges port clearly indicates that it is a pay port for electricity and water .... I'm not sure how one would think one would "hope to get free water there".... Nuff said.....