Monday, 10 June 2019

Tanlay (including a château visit)

Château de Tanlay

It was still windy on Saturday morning but not enough to stop us cruising.  Don & Cathy popped out and said goodbye before they left soon after nine and we followed suit about half an hour later but in the opposite direction.  A young guy called Criston saw us through all five locks of the day and at most of them he was joined by one and sometimes two other éclusiers.

After the first lock we were heading back into hilly countryside
We passed through two villages on our ten-kilometre cruise to Tanlay.

Passing through Ancy-le-Libre
As it was the weekend there were a few cyclists on the towpath/cycle route and consequently they turned into gongoozlers at the locks.  I have been unable to find a French word that is the equivalent of gongoozler and neither of the éclusières I have asked have been able to offer one either.

Gongoozlers at one of the locks
We arrived at our destination, Tanlay, before the lunch break and moored up for the day opposite the hotel boat, La Belle Époque and a couple of other smaller but still relatively large Dutch barges.

Our weekend mooring at Tanlay
The Dutch barge in the middle is Elisabeth which is 90 years old this year.  It is being refurbished as a hotel boat by an English couple and it will be in service from the beginning of September.  They already have bookings, so the pressure is on to get the job finished.  We had to admit that it’s a beautiful looking boat and will be stunning when finished.  At 30 metres in length it will take a maximum of six guests in three bedrooms.

After lunch we went for a walk around Tanlay which seemed to be a very smart town with quite a lot of tourists wandering around, mainly heading for the château.

Houses just down from our mooring

The main street of Tanlay
Right in the centre is the Château de Tanlay, constructed in the 1550s on the site of an old castle.  As it is close to the canal, we will pay a visit over the weekend and leave Buddy on the boat whilst we go.

The gatehouse to the château
The moat around the château is fed by a tributary of the Armançon which was also used as the water source for the town lavoir.  The lavoir is currently locked up but you can just see inside and see that the drying rails are still intact.

Lavoir at Tanlay complete with drying rails
On the way back to the boat we stopped for a quick beer at the port bar which, although modern, seemed to be a popular place to eat and drink even though there are several restaurants in town. 

Sitting looking across to our boat we saw a small Sea Otter narrowboat pulling up behind us.  These are built out of aluminium and consequently very popular.  This one was French registered and as soon as the two French guys had moored up a car turned up to pick them up – maybe they’re French continuous cruisers – the boat certainly looked like it was going to be there a while when we looked at it after our drinks.

We have a neighbour
As Karen said, at least they had stupid white balloon fenders like us, so we needn’t feel so silly in future.  I still don’t know what possessed me to order white instead of black for coming over here.

Later on, we heard from VNF and they have announced that due to water shortages the Canal du Centre will only be maintained to a depth of 1.6m for the rest of this year.  This means that the hotel boats that incorporate that canal in their itineraries will have to offer alternative routes for their guests.  As we have a draught of less than a metre, we won’t be affected by the water shortages (yet).

On Saturday morning we cruised ten kilometres down five locks.  We now have 53 kilometres and 25 locks left before we get back to Migennes on 18th June.

We took it nice and slow on Sunday, other than Karen & Buddy having an early morning run.  Later in the morning we had a bike ride further down the canal taking in a lavoir at Commissey that Karen had noticed on her run.  It was the first one we have seen that had a toilet which, we assume, had some sort of curtain that could be pulled across for decency.  Well, when I say toilet, I mean hole in the ground and a proper hole in the ground rather than the modern ceramic affairs.  Also, hole in the ground was just an opening through the floor into the running water below!  Note from Karen: This hole in the ground was at the downstream end of the washing area.

The lavoir de Commissey
I will refrain from including a picture of the hole in the floor, but it is behind the brick wall in the picture below.  The sluice gates control the level of water available to the washerwomen.


This lavoir also had a fireplace for drying clothes in wet and/or cold weather
We went over to the bar for a leisurely lunch and then paid a visit to the Château de Tanlay.  The history of the building and its owners over the centuries was fascinating (the current family took over in 1702).  Unfortunately, the building and the rooms we were shown were tired and we both admitted to being disappointed.  It would be interesting to compare with other châteaux, but it certainly wasn’t up to National Trust standard.

Looking over the port on our way to lunch - quite a collection of different sized boats

Walking down to the château with the gatehouse in the distance

Part of the trophy room
All the exhibits in the trophy room had been hunted in Tanlay apart from a couple of stags and also the moose in the above picture which was caught in Sweden.  Hunting stopped in Tanlay in 1931.

Having said the decoration was tired, this entertaining room (as in room for entertaining as indeed there was) was quite stunningly finished bearing in mind the surfaces are all flat.

Painted on flat surfaces
When we returned home, guests were beginning to arrive on La Belle Époque and we whiled away a lazy hour or two making up stories about the guests as they arrived.

We will be setting off at 10 on Monday for Tonnerre.

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