Châtillion sur Loire to Belleville

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29/7/2013

Leaving Briare we turned a sharp corner into the Canal Latéral de la Loire ready to cross the Loire via the Pont Canal.

People love to walk or ride over the bridge watching boats and barges pass.


30/7/2013 - 31/7/2013

Only a short trip to Châtillion sur Loire yesterday. We found moorings alongside the canal, but weren't happy with the slopped canal wall. Luckily further down were some pontoons opposite a large shady picnic area. To our amazement Ken and Katie, who we had met in Ouzouer, were moored at the port. Thinking that their motor had finally been fixed we went over to congratulate, but learned that they had been towed (actually pushed, as is the practise on the canals) by the barge of the local harbourmaster and her husband, the boats mechanic. Yes, the harbourmaster in this case was a rather attractive, tanned lady, called Natasha, who was very friendly and helpful. Austin also could converse with her in English, that is, once he had torn his eyes of her bikini-top and skimpy shorts.

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We had 2 lovely days here with cooler weather. For once we did a bit of exercise and walked to the old embarkment finding yet another "ancient" lock, the former entrance for commercial barges from river to canal.

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Having cooked duck breast with mulberry sauce as my attempt on French cooking the previous day, we felt obligated to feed the 30 odd ducks around the port with our left-over baguette. Even the baby ducks shoot forward with incredible speed once spotting a piece of bread. Our attempt of atonement turned out to be a mistake as the ducks quacked around our boat until very late at night, accompanied by a few more of their friends. 

Our circus bikes got another workout cycling over across deep potholes, gravel, and overgrown paths along the canal, forest and scattered farms. Loved the landscape and the bridge crossing the Loire!

The town itself bears witness of the wars of religion between Protestants and Catholics, the catholics clearly winning out with it's church gracing the centre of town. A claim to fame is the visit of Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, kidnapped and Jackyl and Hyde. 

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1/8/2013

Can't believe it's August already! We left Châtillion for one more stop before heading to Cosne to meet up with our friends Gisela and Rod from far away Queensland. We moored in Belleville whose two major attractions are a) a huge nuclear plant, one can actually visit, and b) an aquatic centre - much more tempting in these rising temperatures.

So we had a nice swim in the swim centre and felt very refreshed.




2/8/2013

The local tourist office was open today and a charming lady told us all about Belleville and surrounding countryside. She recommended a walk around the loire showing flood markers and photos of floods during the last 100 years or so.

We decided to combine this with a visit to the information centre at the local nuclear power plant.

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Setting of around 3pm the temp was still around 33 degrees and the only shade on our way to the nuclear plant was from the vapour clouds of the cooling towers. Luckily the information centre didn't lack power - haha- and was air-conditioned.

The displays explaining how the plant works had commentary in English and lit up the relevant sections via push buttons.

I couldn't help though feeling a little eery looking at the huge cooling towers, pumps and other constructions in "real life".

We learnt that France stands on second place behind the US in numbers of nuclear power stations. It has 58 of them supplying 80% of the countries electricity needs.

Leaving we thought we take a little short cut across the lawns surrounding the barbed wire fences of the plant, when suddenly  police sirens were approaching. Two Gendarmes jumped out in front of us which made me feel a little like Jane Fonda in the "China Syndrome". We only avoided arrest by immediately following the gendarmes orders heading away from the complex to the near highway. 

Crossing the highway and looking for shade we soon realised we were on a very long road back to Belleville. We had to circle a big lake and following a long country path back to the canal.

Totally dehydrated and exhausted, we had to have what Austin called a "survive Chernobyl drink" followed by a cold shower on our back deck. The plan for tomorrow is to take it easy and go out for dinner, as it almost killed me to cook in the hot boat tonight!


3/8/2013

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Well, the "taking it easy"-plan didn't quite work out. With renewed energy after a sleep-in, we shopped for provisions. The mooring is only about 120m away from a fairly good supermarché. Opposite the quay is also a gourmet shop stocked with local produce like honey, terrines & patés, cheeses and, of course, the local wine. 

When the shopping was done, we unwisely decided to take a bike ride along the recommended route to view all the flood markers we had missed the previous day. And, yes, you guessed it! We got lost again right about lunchtime as the mercury was on its highest and had to sweat it out- so to speak!

And concerning going out to dinner: this also didn't happen as the pub/restaurant's cook left to go for a swim and didn't return. So we grabbed a pizza and a cold drink and stayed in.

We just battened down the hatches after we were told of a severe storm warning with 100km/h winds. So far nothing has happened, but we learnt the weather here can change very quickly.



© Austin Robinson 2019