Last week was a very special week. Not only was the weather mostly perfect (maybe a little hot at the end) the scenery and the towns and Chateaux as wonderful as I remember them, but Caroline and Phil were here to appreciate them too. If you read the blog for August 2012 you will see how we also had a special time with Audrey and Richard Hope in Paris. They had semi-adopted us into their family when we lived in London from 1978-80. It was their fond remembrances and hilarious stories about the canals of France that stayed with us and started us on this adventure. Sadly Audrey has passed on and Richard is lost to Alzheimer's but their spirits were with us as their daughter Carline and husband Phil joined Lilou and me on Armida in Pouilly-en-Auxois. They both brought the enthusiasm and great humor I remembered from the Hope family. I had told them that we could start down lower and cruise slowly past the Chateau towns or higher up with more locks. They responded “more locks please”. So that’s what we did.
Consequently we breezed through the 26 locks down to Marigny-le-Cahouet early enough to visit the mystical walled house that feels like it is still in the 15th Century.
The next day, with my expert crew and ace locking team, we completed 20 locks before lunch. And we didn’t start until 9:30! Given that 4 locks an hour is normal, 8 locks an hour was amazing! Another 10 locks after lunch to complete the locks staircase to Veneray-les-Laumes by 3pm and we aced it.
The next few days were more leisurely and took in the highlights of this rich in history canal including the serene and gorgeous Abbaye-de-Fontenay and the quirky and slightly weird Chateau de Tanlay as well as the bucolic scenery and charming villages.They were great guests and did so much I felt like the honoured guest. They even braved the “clown bikes”.
The week was over all too quickly and they were off. We all agreed it had a poignancy to it as well as a lot of fun. I have a feeling they may come again..
We left them at Tonnere and then pottered down in the heat to Saint Florentin where we will turn around to head back up and over. I finally got Lilou a haircut – it is supposed to be in the mid 30s this week and next and she doesn’t like the heat. We’ll spend a day or two more here in the updated port and then take a couple of slow days back to Tonnere where there is shade in the late afternoon. I may do some more painting before Dennis arrives from Sweden on the 10th. At least the paint won’t take long to dry.
Saint Florentin is a very interesting little town on a hill over the Armancon river and the canal. It is not on the tourist roadmap and has not been overly “prettied” up like many other places in France. Nonetheless it has some charming aspects and a very local feel. Here are some photos and some others.