Pouilly - Pont-d'Ouche

Monday the 29th of April, the day we planned to 'do' the tunnel from Pouilly-en-Auxois to Escommes. An overcast sky made us feel a bit insecure about breaking down the wheelhouse while there was a chance of rain. We decided to do it anyway, so here is a picture of our 'decapitated' house. La Capitaine and her grandsons are ready to face the horrors to come.

And here is Le Capitain, accompanied by both his grandsons. Note the safety gear, which is compulsory. Let's do it!

It's one way traffic, controled by a barrier and traffic light. So there is hardly any chance to meet another boat when approaching the tunnel. Phew! As narrow as it seems, we have seen quite big boats that had passed the tunnel. So rational thinking tells that this is absolutely do-able. Yes, if only we had to do with rational thinking......

The tunnel is 3,34 kilometers (over 2 miles) long and leads from Pouilly-en-Auxois to Escommes - or the other way around if you like. It marks the watershed between the water that is drained into the Atlantic on the one hand (the Seine and its tributaries) and into the Mediterranean on the other (the Rhône and its tributaries). At 378 meters above sea level it is one of the highest tunnels in Europe.

As this picture, and the former one, shows the tunnel is illuminated which provides for fairly easy cruising and making some fine pictures. Over 50% of its length however was pitch dark, so we needed our torches and were absolutely satisfied with the decision to take down the wheelhouse.

Escommes after having passed the tunnel and rebuilt the wheelhouse. Just in time, as it started raining almost immediately after finishing the job. Someone must be watching over us!

And here, after arriving in France last September, at Escommes we saw the first narrowboat in full action! Going towards the entrance of the tunnel, no less.

Tuesday the 30th we traveled towards Vandenesse-en-Auxois, only 3,5 kilometers and 8 locks. This is lock number 4 'Grand Pré', richly decorated with all sorts of tools. The Asian tourists on bikes were higly interested in the lock house, and us. We retaliated by photographing them back, of course!

Vandenesse-en-Auxois, with the beautiful castle 'Chateauneuf' in the distance, was arrived at 11:30AM after only 1,25 hours of cruising. So we were capable of adjusting our satellite dish and look at the abdication of (former) Queen Beatrix and the inauguration of our new King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. We were absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to watch and even regretted it a little bit not to be in our home country... We stayed in V-e-A the next day, the 1st of May, because our young crew was visited by their parents -on holiday nearby- and it was the birthday of our most senior crew member.

Thursday the 2nd of May opened with a lovely morning, so we started cruising full of joy and optimism, meeting a hotel boat on the way that had dropped its passengers on the towpath to have a most pleasurable bike ride. How did we know? Well, they all had gathered around the lock we had just passed, photographing us from all angles!

On the 'Seine-side' the canal follows the courses of the rivers Armançon and Brenne. Now we are on the 'Rhône-side', following the rive Ouche. The landscape never stops being gorgeous.

Just before reaching our present mooring we spotted this working boat. It shows a highly remarkable wheelhouse, being a former cabin of a lorry!

Pont d'Ouche, where we arrived on the 2nd of May at 11:45AM, after 11 locks and almost 3 hours of cruising. We are still at the same spot after more than 3 days because of what is shown by the following pictures....

Thursday the 2nd of May it started raining heavily in the afternoon. High winds, thunderstorm, hailstorm, rain, rain and rain again. It never stopped for at least 36 hours. It was devastating to see the amount of water coming from the sky. The hailstones, see picture, were huge and made such a noise on the roof that our youngest grandson thought his last hour had come!! (He survived and was picked up in one piece by his mother on Sunday the 5th - as was his elder brother.)

Just a picture to show what happens when a small river -in this case a brook-like tributary to the Ouche- bursts its banks. All cellars of a restaurant submerged (as is the car), fridges, freezers and their contains wrecked, road closed. The house on the right hand side, not pictured, had to be protected by sand bags. This situation occured for the last time in 1966, we were told. It was, well, wet.

The river Ouche was, of course, well outside its banks as well. That gives an opportunity for nice pictures, isn't it?

Today, Sunday the 5th, we are still in Pont d'Ouche because the canal was closed after the torrential rains on Thursday. Yes, even a canal can be brought down by the elements, dear reader! We were told that further downstream the river and the canal could no longer be distinguished from each other! So here is another view of the spot we are now. The weather has improved so maybe, maybe, we can move on tomorrow.

The last picture for this week, just because we are so lucky to got stuck in a little paradise, no less.