Autumn cruising is the way to go. Sure, we have had some rain (a welcome change), breezy and cloudy days, but on our cozy boat that only enhances the experience. And. since Dijon, no hot weather. The rain has been sporadic and the sun makes an appearance a few times a day. I am very comfortable with these locks having gone through 333 of them last year so even the in rain it is not bad. I can motor in slowly, slow the boat down and drop the stern line over a bollard from under the Bimini and tie it off. The brings the bow in and I can dash out in the rain and drop the bow line on. It usually only takes one adjustment to the front line as we go up so I don’t get very wet while the ladies watch in comfort from the cozy salon.
On Monday we treated ourselves to lunch at the Abbaye la Bussiere. It was cool so we were not outside but in one of the lovely arched ceiling rooms.
Tuesday was cool and grey with a little wind and light rain as we set off. Very pretty cruising to Pont d”Ouche where the canal makes a hard right turn over the Ouche river and up a side valley towards the summit. A nice little, well run, port and restaurant. With that and a washing machine we stayed two nights days and got some shopping done thanks to a ride from David on Christiana.
Clean and stocked up we set off for Vanderness after lunch to let the hotel boats get a head start. It seems every other pleasure boat on the canal had the same idea, all three of us. So we had three in a lock: Us, a cruiser our size and a tiny little fiberglass boat with a nice German couple, Andrea and Thomas. The eclusiers were careful, letting the water in so all was fine, if a little slow. Part of the time we were travelling next to the A6, the Autoroute from Paris to the south so there was some background noise but the road was behind trees or above us and the canal was winding, green and lovely. Then as we left the autoroute and climbed the fairytale Chateauneuf-en-Axious appeared on its hilltop to our right. We have visited several times so we passed this time.
Vanderness is where the hotel boats stop and turn around but there was just enough room for us. It does not have a nice square or special layout but has some charming buildings that are being made even more so. There are two restaurants: the “cheap and cheerful” Chez Lucotte and the fine traditional l’Auxois. We sampled and enjoyed both. The view of the Chateau from the port appears on post cards and calendars and most publications about the French canals. For good reason.