I woke up just before 7am and it’s raining! I snoozed until my alarm went off at 8:15 and then got ready for the day. Turns out they forgot to turn on the gas at the stove so Dave did that and we could finally have coffee. The kettle whistles at the start to let you know it’s ‘on’. We stopped at Cercy-la-Tour. There is free WiFi on the canal as well as free water and electricity. There is also no fee for tying up. We walked into the old village and had an espresso. The gentleman who owns the place worked in South Africa for 18 years! There is a bakery and local produce shop, both worth stopping at. We walked around the garden which has a huge statue and a vista of the town. Across the bridge and a 10 minute walk is a small supermarket. On our way back we popped in to the local butcher for food for lunch. We then headed down the canal for a bit. We went into the lock at Isenay which has no ladder! I don’t have long enough legs to jump back onto the barge so Dave had to reverse to fetch me. We tied up there for lunch and just as we were about to leave, the rain started up again. At the next lock we encountered another barge and it came pouring down. I discovered that my very expensive jacket is no longer waterproof and I am drenched! First stop back home will be at Due South for a new one. We stopped at Panneçot and walked around but there is nothing to see. This is where we had planned on staying the night. Mooring fees are €8 including electricity and water. It was too early to stop however. We then joined the Aron river. We got to a closed lock and waited for 2 barges and I made coffee. Thick walled mugs don’t retain the heat of the water long enough for me to still have hot coffee to the last sip. The letting out of the water pushes the boat back an amazing distance. We had a brief patch of sunshine and then the rain came back. We decided to tie up at Fleury – no charge for tying up and if you need water it is €2 for 100l. There are also shower facilities at a cost of €2.50 but I would not bother. Of course the sun came out as we tied up! We enjoyed a blonde beer, had an half hour walk and came back to the barge for supper. Fresh fettucini with a clam and mussel sauce was on the menu and a bottle of Bordeaux.
Passport control was a breeze and after we collected suitcases we checked emails and walked to get the RER B to Paris. A kind gentleman assisted us and we just missed the 06:59 train. We caught the 7:05 into Chatelet Les Halles. Then changed to the train to Gare de Lyon and walked to Gare de Bercy. We were there later than I planned but in time for Stephanie’s arrival. It’s amazing to see my Aunt who lives in Australia. She is beautiful inside and out. The train was 20 minutes late in departing so we had some quality time together. We all had coffee and croissants for breakfast. The train had some issue and so we slowly made our way alongside canals and beautiful green countryside where I even saw some buck while Dave slept. We arrived late in Nevers but with enough time for Dave to get lunch – plain ham and lettuce rolls – which we ate on the train to Decize. We walked just over half an hour to the boat basin and we were helped straight away. As soon as the paperwork was done and the money paid, we went onto the barge. It is amazing! I unpacked while Dave was given instructions from the mechanic. He then went to shower while I carried on getting things organized. We left as soon as he was dressed. We had one lock to go through to get onto the Loire River and then turned into the Canal. We tied up at the first mooring on the left and walked 6000m to the Carrefour. We shopped, and Dave popped into the Lidl 150m from the barge for water. Groceries were dumped on the barge before we carried on. And we went straight passed the moorings on the right hand side just behind the carrefour. Had we known that, shopping would have been bliss. We have tied up near Verneuil and I showered while Dave looked at why the gas isn’t working. Sadly whatever it is is terminal and we cannot cook. We had cravettes for dinner, followed by cheese and crackers. We had snacked on a baguette with pate earlier and so finished off the last of the pate as well. We enjoyed a bottle of red wine, and had a very early night.
We are finally at the airport for the first leg of our trip. We fly out of Cape Town to Johannesburg. Our suitcases are checked through and we are relaxing in the lounge. Our holiday has begun. Our flight to Johannesburg left late and then landed on the furthest runway from the airport possible. We parked opposite the international departures and bussed to the terminal. By the time we had walked through the airport, gone through security and got into the queue for passport control we had 10 minutes to boarding. A customs official helped us jump the line and we had enough time to have a quick visit to the lounge where I washed the top half of me. We then went to the gate to stand in a queue! Thankfully a short one. But, our flight left half an hour late! Supper was a very nice chicken and noodle dish served with a not nice salad, average cake and sweetened yoghurt. I ate my mini baguette with brie. A glass of champagne and a bottle of wine later it was time for sleep. I managed 6 hours of sleep. Interrupted by a baby crying. We woke up in time for Dave to shave before breakfast of a sweet crepe, coffee, more yoghurt which I didn’t eat, fruit salad which was fresh and crisp and a croissant. Sadly only one cup of coffee. Teeth brushed, top changed, face washed and make up on, I feel ready to face the day!
On Thursday the 23rd of April we will be leaving Cape Town for France. We arrive in Paris on the 24th and head straight for Decize. Our aim is to get there in the morning and do our shopping and then Dave will drop me off at the boat basin. I will do the check in while he takes the car back to Nevers. Hopefully everything will go to plan and we will leave Decize in the afternoon and spend the night in Cercy-la-Tour. We have already visited the old city of Decize so that is not a priority this visit.
The following day we will head to Panneçot and on the Sunday night we plan on being in Châtillon-en-Bazois where we know there is a bakery and a butcher. On Monday we will sleep tied up in the lake at Baye so that we can head through the 3 tunnels and down the 16 locks as early as possible. This will take us to Corbigny. From there we head to Tannay where will spend our last night on the barge.
Due to the 1st of May being a public holiday, we have cut our barge trip one night short and will spend the night in Auxerre. As we are staying in a hotel we have decided to eat at a one star Michelin restaurant that evening. With limited train service on the 1st we will leave Auxerre for Paris just after lunch. We are spending the weekend in Paris in an apartment so that we can take advantage of the amazing markets. We leave for home on Monday the 4th of May.