PART THREE: CHARITÉ TO SANCERRE AND BEYOND
NB: This post was written and ready last weekend and didn’t post. Because WordPress decided to eat it, and I didn’t notice. Oops. Here we go…
Travelling by boat is definitely fun and has a certain kind of charm to it. Every time we wanted to stop required some thought and forward planning about where to dock, whether a bollard was available or we needed to hammer pegs in, and what facilities were at each port (do we carry on to get power further along, etc). Amazingly, we never showered on shore, though I know my mother did use a few bathrooms in dock areas!
Each port had a restaurant or two nearby (sometimes with questionable menu items) and was a short distance to a wee town and we walked often, with the occasional taxi (my parents’ choice rather than ours). The stereotypical rules applied – always a bakery or three, always a mairie and always somewhere to have a coffee and watch people go by. We ate a lot of croissants. As you do.
Most of the time we were cruising along at very low speed, just slicing through the calm waters of the canal and enjoying the view along the way.
One of my mother’s requested destinations along the way was the town of Sancerre, famous for its wine. Settled high upon a hill, we docked at the bottom and asked a local bar to phone us a taxi to take us up. And then we were on our way.
Sancerre has a lovely view out over the Loire valley, including Bellevue (known for its nuclear power plant!) and back the way we came. We ate at a wee cafe there before we decided to wander and explore the local winesellers. As with many of the towns we visited, Sancerre completed closed down between 12 and 2;30pm, but we managed to amuse ourselves until the stores and cellars re-opened.
The tasting we had was with a very stylish winery and thankfully (to save me from constantly translating), the saleswoman spoke excellent English, and I only needed to explain the occasional word here and there to her. We chose a red and a white, and bought many bottles to drink on the boat and then transport to our respective countries.
Sancerre also has a lot of cats. Actually, France has a lot of cats.
Sancerre was very pretty, too, and I bought a clock from a store near this lovely wee house. I dream of shutters like that.
Oh and the view I mentioned! Here it is. Well. Here is my face blocking it.
Another town I really liked was Cosne. It was small and quaint and had a busy market with plenty to see. I had a crepe from a lovely man who was so friendly and chatty I ended up buying cidre from him as well. We ended up eating Italian over the lunch break and then my parents bought shoes and clothes (as they did everywhere).
As trip navigator it was my role every day to tell everyone when the locks were, how far we were going and plan our stop for the night. It had its pressures! I managed to do a pretty good job, though, I thought. We never got stuck, except for one day when it poured down and we missed the lock hours, but we always had somewhere to stop.
I think they had a good time. I know I did. What a way to travel and relax. And we really got to see France. Not just Paris.
Though we did get there later. And that’s my next post.