Locks of Fun

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Aboard Le Boat

Flag of France  , Bourgogne,
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not quite as foggy this morning so got organised and set out early. DM picked up the croissants and we decided to have breakfast after the first lock. LQ on the wheel. The height of the next lock was 10.76 metres. This was the first of 13 locks that we had to get through, not all quite as high but every bit as slow. DM decided to ride to the next town so we were down a man! We got into bit of routine. We took turns at the wheel, negotiating locks and bridges (some so low we had to duck). Once into the lock, at the lower level, we had to move to the front of the lock where John had to grab onto and shimmy up the ladder. On solid ground he pulled the cord which closed the lock behind us and started the filling process. SW, SM and LQ manned the ropes or handled the boat. DQ oversaw the whole process.

All went well until we had to wait for a huge luxury cruising barge coming out of a lock in the opposite direction to us. It was so big it just fitted into the lock 3 inches at most either side. It created a bit of wake that bumped us around a bit, but that was the least of our problems. We waited until we got the green light to enter but, conservative as we were, the light had changed before we got there. Because we had had to wait for the big cruiser John had jumped out and decided to walk up the bank to open the lock for us. Due to some poor navigational advice (from SW) he took the wrong path. So now Liz, Sue, David Q and I are left on the boat in the lock. No John to pull the rope, so DQ starts tugging. (Sometimes the ropes come down into the lock so you don't have to get off the boat to pull the rope.) The lock doesn’t open; he climbs the ladder and pulls, no opening. I pulled, no opening. We are beginning to panic. The water in these canals is disgusting. Finally we pull the emergency rope; DQ and DM (who has returned) speak to the lock master who says he will be there in 3hrs!!! We decide to back out of the canal and have lunch. DQ expertly reversed the boat out of canal. Then we notice that the light had turned green and there is another boat coming up the rear, so we tried again. This time all worked and we managed to get out of the lock. Only 3 more locks until we stopped for lunch.

After lunch we continued until we reached the town of Santenay, just beyond Chagny. We moor here for the night and walk into the town. There is a beautiful château with a classic Burgundy mosaic terracotta tile roof, complete with moat. We walked up the hill to the chateau that was adevertised as having wine tastings every day. Unfortunately it was closed.

As in all the Burgundy villages, there were many other very small vignerons. JW thought he had tasted wine from one called Jean Moreau before and we had seen some signs saying that they were open. We found their house/garden/winery etc slightly further down the hill from the chateau. The youngest member of the family, probably around thirty, eventually emerged after some amateur French between us and staff plus some elderly family members doing the gardening. To add to the confusion his name was David!  He agreed to give us a tasting (degustation) of his wines. They had 9 hectares of vines in a variety of places mainly around Santenay. We tasted 6 wines. As usual we liked all the wines, but some found the reds a bit challenging, light and a rather astringent. We bought 4 bottles, all liking the whites and preferring an older 2007 Santenay red.

David Moreau was an engaging host. He had recently taken over from his grandfather, the gardener from earlier in the story. SM asked if he was married, offering her three daughters as an option, in jest of course. It was a piece of luck. We asked him about restaurants and he said that there was a good restaurant in Santenay, but another one that was better value 2 kms away on Remigny.

We case the joint in Santenay and weigh up the alternatives of a meal on the boat, where we have a hamburger meal waiting, the (mildly) upmarket restaurant in Santenay, and a 2 km stroll to Remigny, with another 2-3km stroll back to the boat after dinner.

We chose the third possibility. We walked to Remigny. After some gymnastics, we find the restaurant on the river and (now for something completely different) it is closed!

We then return to the boat. By this time it is raining lightly. The walk turns out to be slightly longer than planned. We return thirsty (oh shock). We drink some very good Burgundy wines including the older red from Jean Moreau to a casual meal cooked on the boat.

We revised our plans for the next day to centre around a trip to Rully, a village south of the canal.
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