A brief summary of our Escapades Fluviale
One of the great things about canal boating is you never know what to expect…
Year 1: We arrive equipped with elaborate plans for what to do on our boat trip on the Canal du Centre, including which wineries to visit etc. Problem: Canal du Centre is closed due to lack of water, try a different canal. Outcome: Excellent — we visit Pont de Vaux (a tiny canal to a tiny village) and Louhans, at the top of the navigable Seille river, which has the most amazing market (including livestock!) we have ever seen.
Year 2: I book the wrong boat (was supposed to be the deluxe two cabin version, actually was the non-luxury three cabin version of the same size boat). Additional problems: Bow thruster doesn’t work and my bed broke and dropped me into the bilge. Weather is freezing cold most of the time and the crappy boat has to be driven from inside when it’s raining because there is no dodger or anything of the sort over the outdoor help position. Outcome: Excellent — we have a fantastic time with great friends, searching for geocaches along the route (my normally risk-averse wife crawled out onto a disused railroad trestle over the river to find one), and met a winemaker in Rully that we still visit regularly (Domaine De La Folie, highly recommended).
Year 3: I book the right boat (yay) with the right company (Saone Bateaux) and we actually have decent weather with Kim’s dad and stepmom. Problem: Plan is to go up Canal de Bourgogne and make extensive use of e-bikes for Ron and Claire to tour around the area — but they both have trouble getting used to the e-bikes so we mostly stay on the boat. Outcome: Excellent — after panicking over possibly running out of fresh water for showers etc., we make it to a lock with an anchorage run by two fantastic people who make us great food. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. Hope to go back soon.
Year 4: I book the right boat again and we go up the Canal du Rhone au Rhin with same friends from Year 2. Problems: None. Outcome: Excellent, had a really great time, dropped Alison and Kyle off in Besancon for their return and then went up the Canal du Centre for a couple days on the way back to turn the boat in.
Year 5: Great weather, so great that I get heat exhaustion/dehydration from standing out in the sun driving the boat! (Wine might have played a part…). Outcome: Excellent, we were so hot we swam in the Saone off the back of the boat for the first time in 5 years. It was deliciously cold.
Year 6: Cold and rainy to start, now shaping up very nicely however as I write this. Problem: Atlantic side of Canal du Centre closed due to a broken lock (They had to drain the canal!). Outcome: So far, excellent — we get to spend more time in the Cote d’Or visiting wineries.
In general — one of the fun things about doing this canal boat vacation is that you never know what France is going to throw at you.