From Decize to the end of the Canal Latéral de la Loire

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13/8/2013

Decize has 2 ports, one in the side-arm of the canal latéral and the other at the beginning of the canal du Nivernais.

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We stayed in the first one, a modern port also accommodating a "Le Boat"  harbour. There are toilets, shower, laundry and a restaurant, a small hotel and holiday houses. Wi-fi receptors are situated on each of the 5 pontoons. 

The walk to the old town centre is approximately 15-20 minutes. The centre sits on an island in between 3 sidearms of the Loire and has a long history dating to Gallo-roman times. Walking to the tip of the island we could see the confluence of the streams and the entrance to the Canal du Nivernais.

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We visited the old parish church, and had a drink on Place Guy Coquille where a 33m clock tower was built by Guy Coquille in the 16th century.

At night the town is abandoned and the ruins of the former castle looked a little spooky. Easy to imagine that people were once put to death by burning here.

14/8/2013

It's Evas Birthday today, together with Anne, her twin sister, Petra Chappel and Tim Findon! Happy Birthday, everyone!!! A lot of reasons to celebrate, and so we did. Starting in the morning with an OJ-Champagne breakfast and finishing at night in a little place called Vanneaux with dinner at the quay's restaurant and some french wines. The rest is a blur! Eva has long re-named our "safe arrival" toast to "survival"!, which doesn't say much about our boating skills.

15/8/2013

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Luckily we survived also the next day, when Austin lured us into a cycle tour of roughly 24km. We cycled from Garnat to the medieval town of Bourbon-Lancy and back. Most of the route went along a straight country road until it veered off into a cycle path along a beautiful lake and parkland. Lots of families were picnicking and enjoying the lovely summer weather on this catholic holiday, Maria's Ascension.

We then climbed a short hill to the quaint medieval Bourbon-Lancy. As the tourist office was closed, we conducted our own 

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tour. Not big in planning, we felt quite hungry at about 2pm, but had neither a picnic basket prepared nor could we find  any place still offering food. The French restaurants and cafés close down strictly at 2pm and only re-open for dinner at about 6pm again. 


Austin "was wilting away to nothing" and due to all of us feeling famished, the cycle back was very fast indeed.

Lunch went down well, and we continued down the canal to Beaulon. The lovely french couple from the "Aquanaut", we had previously met in Briare, jumped to our aid. 

In the meantime, Mario had cycled back to the car from different locations, always arriving at our destinations way ahead of us.

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Walking into the village we came to the closed gate of a castle from where 2 young women in white gowns called and waved to us. Unable to understand what they called out we wondered if they were held prisoners, had a mental problem or were just teenagers of a boarding school having some fun with us. A woman coming out of the gate house mysteriously disappeared, so we were unable to establish the current usage of the castle.

This made for vivid dreams as it combined with the French detective story I am currently reading.

16/8/2013

The sun had only half risen when Austin and Mario cycled into the village for the obligatory baguettes, bringing an extra one for our french friends.

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We left quite early to stop off and visit the Abbaye de Sept-Fons, a very large Trappist abbey on the bank of the Bresbe River. In 1791 the monks were expelled and had to buy back the abbey. To survive they produced Germalyne, very fine milled wheat sprouts, and other bio-products, producing their own honey, cheese, cereal, jams and chutneys. When we entered the shop people were buying boxes of the products. 


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After lunch we set off again and arrived at the mooring of Coulanges in the early evening. Mario had taken off shopping with the car and returned 2 hours later from Digoin with bags full of salad stuff and other things. Eva is  worried that we might be mistaken for the local cows eating so much green stuff. So she is working on her suntan because the local cows are white!

Unfortunately we missed the opening hours of the château St. Aubin, a privately owned very well maintained castle. We were chased away by the owner and 3 or 4 hunting dogs. An invitation to dinner would have been nice but "Chacun à son goût!" (each as they like).

After letting Eva win in the card game "Wist" on her birthday, we almost beat her tonight!!!


17/8/2013

Today we have only a short sail from Coulanges to Digoin, where the Canal Latéral ends and the Canal du Centre begins.

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I just learned from a young French couple who asked us to mind their bike helmets, that Digoin is pronounced "De-gwoin" second syllable similar to "groin", which apparently is the sound the French ducks make:"gwoin, gwoin"! Imagine that all the way along I have totally misunderstood the local ducks!

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The weather has become really pleasant over the last week or so - still sunny but with a nice cool breeze and we need already the odd cardi at night time.

Entering Digoin the canal once again flows over a bridge. Moorings with electricity and water are all along the starboard side, and we found a shady place under a pine tree. Well, maybe a little too shady! The top of our boat disappeared in the tree and it took some manoeuvring and a little pruning to enjoy our green canapé.

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15/8/2013

© Austin Robinson 2019