Here and on our website ’t Majeur we tell about our live aboard and the adventures to be as we barge trough Europe.

For a Barge holidays for a few days on board see the web site

Should you want to be notified by email when we have posted a new blog or updated the website, then sent us an email trough, within the subject "follower".

Thursday, 18 July 2013

To Bar-le-Duc and back and via Chaumont to Paris

Contrary to what is “normal” this time the same map as last time. As I already explained these last weeks have been spent on to-and-fro’s, hence.

Absolutely no problem as the trip back is always completely different from the way up, the company differs and the surroundings are beautiful.
We’re certain that we will return and then do the Canal between Champagne and Burgundy in its entire length. We now already know which spots are the nicest, which spots we passed but are on our list, which restaurants have to be visited, which bike-trips are still to be made etc.
Mussey-sur-Marne, what a surprise to come upon your own ship like this when biking
But first about our stay in Bar-le-Duc. We never made it to Toul, because of the broken lock we would have been underway too long to be able to meet the appointments we made with our guests
We could have gone a bit further to the next turning point (because of our length there are not too many of those) but we decided not to. The weather was not too good, cold and wet, so cruising was not nice. We decided to do a bit of DIY- work in a town with a nice DIY-shop, awaiting the arrival of our guests.

Bar-le-Duc is built on both sides of the river Saulx and the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, uphill on either side. One side is the historical town, beautiful old buildings and a nice upper-town and the other side is covered with big flats, but with a splendid view!
After a walk through the old town all the way up we made a picture of the view, looking at down-town. Later we noticed the added value of the beautiful camera we were given by our friends and family: : even ‘t Majeur’s crane was visible but only on the picture. 
Vue sur le grue is what Michel calls this picture.

We were moored behind the station, maybe not the most picturesque place but very convenient
and a field with poppies at our doorstep.
During one of our walks we ran into this nice kitten, lying in the gutter and shamelessly waiting for attention; she got it!

All canals that we cruise are close to one or more rivers that you frequently cross by way of a  pont canal and that run through towns and villages.
In some towns, like Bar-le-Duc, there may be as many as 4 or more water courses crossing the town. They make for a lively view and beautiful spots like here where the stream goes underneath a church.

We enjoyed the FĂȘte de la Musique; since 1982 every year on June 21st , Solstice Day, throughout France amateur musicians and others play their music on the streets in the evening. Great atmosphere and lots of dancing.
Unfortunately I deleted the pics I took so you have to use your own imagination.
We also went to a concert in a church, life’s little joys in a more urban environment.

And then it was time for us to cruise with our guests.
We heard and learned a lot about Australia and we think they learned a lot about living on and cruising with a ship. And foremost they experienced how nice life on board a ship can be.
They are all sold to the idea of barging and they all want their owns ship in the future. We hope to meet our new barge-friends often on the waterways.
First we cruised from Bar-le-Duc back to Vitry le François, no locks out of order this time and then we sailed South, an unknown stretch for Michel and me.

Of course not all went smoothly, because we soon were hovering in front of a bridge that had to be opened by hand without anything happening. There were a couple of boats waiting with us.
VNF (the waterways management of France) came to us to report that, alas, since an hour the bridge was broken down, couldn’t be opened any more, a specialist was called for and it could take days. The little boats turned and went back to Saint Dizier, the town we had just passed, but here again size mattered ….
We decided to give it a nights sleep and to confer with our guests then but, behold, next day there was a solution.
A commercial had arrived and for them VNF does what they don’t do for pleasure craft: they rig it so that the bridge can be opened just once and then we could come along.
of course our rescuing commercial could pass first when possible. The bridge in the foreground is not the broken one but an even older, derelict one in front of it.
On the way back, a few weeks later, the bridge was still out of order, but now it was permanently open, a nuisance for road traffic but okay for us.
Now we were on the Canal between Champagne and Burgundy, as said before very nice and we want more of it.
Meanwhile summer had started and as of July 1st no complaints from us.

Nature shows the change as well, everything blossoms abundantly, not at least our on board geraniums.
On a lock quay I saw this tree, no idea what its name is, but I have seen it before with those nice deeply red leaves, but not before with these pinkly blossoming clouds.
All farmers have immediately gone at it on their fields, they are working everywhere and throughout you can find these big rolls of hay, each year I think it a splendid view.

Very often you can see local youngsters swimming in the canals but as we also see very often dead animals, mainly deer and fish, floating around we don’t dip. The water is quite often crystal clear with big and small fish everywhere.
In Amsterdam you will pay quite a price to have our feet nibbled by fish, here I just put them in the canal for free
and have my drinks chilled too.
After our first guests debarked we cruised two long days so we could reach Chaumont. Because we moored late in the day and planned to leave early we didn’t bother to moor properly, no one can pass you once the locks are closed. And as long as we can go on shore – and back – it’s all right and the boat sticks out into the canal, no problem with our spud poles. 
we just put it across, who cares
Next to the spud poles, ever since entering France we have rarely used our lines, the new canopy is a real success and very easy to handle. Down in front of a tunnel or bridge and then up again. And, when necessary, it can go down all the way without fuss.
going with the wind in your hair!
And another find, our solar panels. We have the genny on far less and there are still improvements possible.
Michel now cleans the panels each day in order to maximize the output.
There are very few pictures showing me and Michel together so it’s hard to pass this one over. It is a special place underneath this impressive “rail-duct” in Chaumont, where you can walk on the first layer and the train takes the top.
Near Chaumont there is a tunnel and just to show that not all tunnels are a horror I give you this picture. Sometimes you can see the end already before you enter and this one is so broad that it has two-way-traffic and it takes bicyclists as well.
On the way back from Chaumont, heading North, we were stopped by the VNF, because at he next lock there were two boats already in and the doors wouldn’t close.
It was great fun for the local youth who were swimming and lots of VNF employees, all shaking hands and then those two boats with all crew still onboard.
I don’t understand how you can stay on board in this heat and then in such a narrow empty lock, but there you are.
After a while this problem  was sorted out and we could get on.

In Saint Dizier we were moored on a quay and when Michel came into the pilothouse early in the morning he saw a car being towed from the water, just in front of us.
it was really very close
When we asked they told us that the driver had been running from the police and had driven straight into the canal.
Not only had we not heard a thing but neither had our guests and they sleep in the front. Good beds apparently :-)
Had we been moored a few meters ahead the car would have landed on our front deck.

Fortunately we also hadn’t moored on the opposite bank, which we had considered, because on the morning of the Quatorze Juillet there was a string of fishermen along the bank, a concours. Now, this is serious business and hard work throughout the day.
at least 40 fishermen and women on a row
The fisher just across from us won the day, must have been our good vibes.
each had an enourmous amount of equipment that had to be lugged in and out
We stayed on this quay for a few days because we wanted to see the Quatorze Juillet fireworks and when dusk came we admired the swallows who flew to and fro to the quay side where they apparently had their nests. Just the last evening we realised that we had been blocking 26 meter of nesting space for the past days and we did feel guilty at that time.
they had their nests under the concrete ledge
We couldn’t miss being in a wine region, there being caves, champagne-chateau and vineyards all around.
One of the most special caves is this one with a bas-relief wall and a door in the shape of a barrel. Such a pity they put up an ugly sign; there also was a white letter stuck to the door which I managed to photo-shop away. The sign is a step too far, maybe next year.

Now we thought we had enough blocked locks, but no.
En route again we were quickly stopped by the VNF as there was a car in the lock.
We moored and got on our bikes to ride quickly to the lock because we had a sight to behold.
We were just in time to see them towing the car out of the pond and then it smashed on the ground as the cable broke.

Never a dull moment on the French canals.
The divers, who were in the water in any case, cleaned the lock and with a bucket they brought quite a few rocks to the surface.
 We are moored now for a few days in Orconte, on shore power, using the washing machine frequently and having a spot with shadow to write the blog.
From here we go to Paris, where we booked the last week of August, we’re really looking forward to that.
More of it in my next blog.