All the canals and rivers

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Canal de Bourgogne

Le canal de Bourgogne ©Alain Doire – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Le canal de Bourgogne ©Mélanie Masson – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Along with a couple of friends, young retirees just like me, we decided to treat ourselves to a week of « good times » far from the hustle and bustle of the big city. We ended up agreeing on Burgundy-Franche-Comté, which is not too far and easy to get to…Our criteria involved not needing to jump in the car for our visits (but still visiting sites all the same), enjoying a minimum of comfort (we are a bit too old for camping) and not to be slaves to a rigid timetable… Not easy…

But we found it in the end: we set off on a barge-hotel! And in terms of what to visit, we were recommended the Canal de Bourgogne (it was a recommendation we listened to, because we don’t know the region). We weren’t disappointed. My wife and her friend both love « History with a capital H », and they were delighted to see heritage sites from a new point of view (sailing along certainly changes your perspective)…All of this, and comfort that would be worthy of a palace. I am not sure if our next journey will be in Burgundy-Franche-Comté (although I did see another itinerary along the River Saône that seemed really nice), but it will be on a boat; that much is certain!

Don’t miss along the trail

  • Visit the Renaissance chateaux of Tanlay and Ancy-le-Franc

  • Stop at Saint-Jean de Losne, « boating capital»

  • Make a « discovery stop » at the Muséoparc d’Alésia

The Val de Loire

Le Val de Loire en bateau ©Alain Doire – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Le Val de Loire - Tourisme fluvial en Bourgogne - ©Mélanie Masson – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

It’s crazy how people have preconceptions… 15 days ago, my boyfriend and I were telling our friends about our forthcoming holidays…on a boat. They certainly didn’t hold back: « It must be cool to be loaded », « are you getting ready for retirement? », « have you packed Scrabble, because it could be a long few weeks »… Good Lord!! So many clichés in so little time…

Well, we have a good laugh about that now that we are back from Burgundy-Franche-Comté (more specifically, the Loire Lateral Canal… that is where we decided to go « boating ». Our rental cost no more than Jean’s mobile home did… We drew at Scrabble, but the scenery was worth more than any « triple word score » :o). And as for retirement, that can wait until we pack away the bikes that we needed right along our journey! Because for us the boat was just a « gateway »…To visit the « main events », we had to pedal a bit (but only a bit, mind)…In short, our friends don’t know what they are missing…It’s their loss ;o)

Don’t miss along the trail

  • Stop off at the Bec d’Allier

  • Discover Nevers and its famous ducal palace

  • Enjoy a well-earned tasting of Pouilly wine

The canal du centre

Canal-du-centre ©Alain Doire – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Le canal du Centre - ©Mélanie Masson – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

A month ago my parents got us all together, my two brothers and me, to give us some good news… They had taken the liberty of booking our next holiday! Really? Can you guess where? In Burgundy…and there’s more… aboard a boat. We all looked at one another thinking: « is this a joke? »… Well, just to be nice and despite my reservations (3 students stuck aboard a boat with their parents, hardly sounded epic :o), I packed my bags…

As it turned out, we were right to go along with them! It was great! Not only did we not have any fights (that was always a risk :o) but what’s more… the tranquillity and nature…It really does you good!!! We were never bored for one instant, there was always something to see and do! On top of that, the sense of freedom you get from dropping anchor whenever you want to go off on a bike ride or stretch your legs and visit a nearby village totally changed the impression I had about boating… It was really good and, I would go so far as to say, too short!

Don’t miss along the trail

  • Take the canal-bridge at Digoin

  • Enjoy a relaxing stop amongst the vineyards that flank the canal

The Canal du Nivernais

Canal du Nivernais dans l'Yonne ©Alain Doire – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
L'Yonne et le Canal du Nivernais - ©Mélanie Masson – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

My wife and I have always dreamed of owning a boat (for the time being I think we are better of renting :o) and heading off on our very own cruise, with our own itinerary and stops… The only problem is that neither of us is a particularly experienced sailor! So before setting off across the world, we decided to try a « softer » version of navigation for our holiday: a tour along a canal (in this case, the Nivernais). Not bad for a first attempt :o)

On the programme, an obligatory trip through the Collancelle vaults and a visit to Clamecy on foot (this turned out to be a great stop…We ate really well! :o) among other things. I can honestly tell you that boating is child’s play (well, it was on our canal…)! In 3h tops we had mastered how to handle our little boat with ease. I think this type of navigation might even be nicer than heading off to sea… Here, the scenery changes with every kilometre (more or less…: o), so I’m worried that the ocean might get a bit monotonous. Maybe we could tweak our dream just a little…

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Don’t miss along the trail

  • Travel through the Collancelle vaults

  • Visit the wine cellars of Bailly

  • Enjoy a gastronomic stop in Clamecy

The Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne

Loire - ©Alain Doire – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Le Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne - ©Mélanie Masson – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

For our holidays this year, we decided to enjoy a two-for-one…We combined boating and cycling, and I can tell you that the entire family thought it was a holiday that would live long in the memory. It was the very first time we had tried something like this so, naturally, the « novelty » plays a part…But it was more than that!

At the start, none of us was particularly pro-boat or pro-bike. What we wanted was to try new things (we weren’t too sure about tree-top cabins and other « quirky » accommodation…). I think that in the end we found the right relax/sport/culture combination…You can relax when you want (you just have to pull up the boat in the shade of a carefully selected tree for an hour or for the night), you can do a bit of sport when you want (generally, we set off along the towpath that flanked the canal, which led us to neighbouring villages), you can enjoy some culture when you want (here, you are spoilt for choice…just take a look around you…at most, you just need to do a few km on the bike to visit the Château de Talmay, for example). All in all, it was a wonderful experience for the price of a « regular » hotel!

The river Seille

La-Seille - ©Alain Doire – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
La Seille - ©Mélanie Masson – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Last Tuesday, Remi (that’s my husband) and I were pondering an existential question… How long had it been since we’d had a truly relaxing weekend break with the family, just us and the girls (we have 2)?

First step, find a destination…If possible, not too far from Paris (if it’s a case of spending half the time in the car…no thanks!). A quick look at the map was all we needed to find it: Burgundy-Franche-Comté! Not too far away, easy access…Perfect!

Then for the theme of our break…Visits? With 2 kids under 5 years of age its best to be realistic! :o) Cycling? Not really! Boating?… Yes; there was an original idea that was sure to please everyone! Now we just needed to choose where, because in Burgundy-Franche-Comté they are not short of waterways! Back to the internet… And there, browsing on a web site, we found the Seille…a little bit hidden away (less than 40km, perfect for a weekend), passing through Louhans (with its poultry market…and picturesque besides), with its wild scenery and the nature reserve of La Truchère…We wanted to get away from it all…I think we have just found the perfect spot!

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Don’t miss along the trail

  • Drop the anchor at the La Truchère barrage to visit the nature reserve and stroll across its sand dunes

  • Discover the poultry market at Louhans

  • Make a stop at the literary village of Cuisery

The River Saône


Location de bateau sur la Saône ©CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
A voir au fil de la Saône - ©Mélanie Masson – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

When my husband told me that we were going on holiday on a boat on the River Saône, I can’t say I jumped for joy at the idea! This is going to be torture; long and slow…Finally I gave in. We went for a week and I was totally won over.

Our holidays transformed into a voyage of initiation where every encounter was such a revelation. First of all, there was the staff at the tourist office in Gray; passionate people who welcome every pleasure boater with incredible kindness. Then there was a German couple we met during a stop at Chalon-sur-Saône (a beautiful town we passed); amazing people who, for 15 years now, have chosen the nomadic life aboard their boat. How could I not feel inspired?

Finally there was the rhythm of the boat…What with work and other obligations I had almost forgotten what it meant to « take my time ». here you have time to truly live, to drop the anchor when and where you like. No stress with public transport, no crowds, just a tête-à-tête with nature, tranquillity and a husband who loved pretending to be Sinbad the Sailor.

Don’t miss along the trail

  • The subterranean canal at Saint-Albin, a feat of engineering that is listed as a Historic Monument

  • Fishing (or rather fighting) bullheads, an extremely large fish and one of the most impressive

  • Gray with its beautiful buildings and its adorable Italian-style theatre

The river Doubs

Tourisme fluvial sur le Doubs ©CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Tourisme au fil du Doubs, ©Mélanie Masson – CRT Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

This cruise along the Doubs was the opportunity to help my loved ones (my parents, my brother, his wife and their two children) discover this type of break. They would, at long last, experience life aboard a boat: eating, sleeping, travelling…and co-habiting. One full week together on a boat that, whilst very comfortable, was by no means immense…it was a bit of a gamble but, in the end, everyone had a great time!

Everyone found their own thing. My parents were quite simply bowled over by the charm of Besançon, which was a wonderful surprise with its citadel, well-preserved town centre, the home of Victor Hugo (a native of Besançon we discovered) and its greenery…everywhere! They also loved the stop at Dole. It has to be said that the port is adorable, with its unbeatable view of the collegiate church.

The kids went wild on the Eurovélo6 trail that runs alongside the river. They had great fun beating us (that’s right, you go faster by bike than by boat) to the next lock. Every evening we respected the sacred ritual of the aperitif! It was the perfect chance to relax once again and prepare our stops for the following day with a glass of Jura wine in hand.

Don’t miss along the trail

  • Uncover the secrets of Louis Pasteur’s science lab at his birth house in Dole

  • Swap the boat for a car at the Peugeot Museum in Montbéliard

  • Besançon, a UNESCO World Heritage town since 2008, overlooked by the citadel designed by Vauban