|Port-sur-Saone to Dole (Cruise runs Saturday to Friday)|
Highlights: The waterways capital of France - Petite Saone River - Dining opportunities - St. Albin and Savoyeux Tunnels - The lovely City of Dole
be joining the barge on a Saturday in the pleasant and thriving town of
Port-sur-Saone where it's definitely worth checking out the 18th Century
St. Etienne church. I suggest you take the opportunity to dine out at one
of the towns restaurants tonight and I'll cook your welcome aboard dinner
on Sunday when most eateries are closed.
the barge cruises a particularly lovely section of the Petite Saone bounded by deep woods and pastureland. An unusual feature on a river, we travel through not one but two river tunnels, namely those of St-Albin and Savoyeux and pass the sleepy hamlet of Rupt-sur-Saone with the dungeon tower of its ruined former chateau peering through trees over the village and river across the fields that separate us. One thing you'll notice during the week is the beautiful and typically Burgundian tiled church steeples. Each hamlet or town has its own distinctly different pattern. Some sections of this majestic river have been 'canalised' by short stretches of linking canal to cut corners on particularly wide, shallow or un-navigable bends.
On Sunday afternoon, I hope to moor in a rural setting near Charentenay or Soing to provide the opportunity for a bit of leg stretching and a cycle ride or walk to the small village of Ray-sur-Saone dominated by its amazing Chateau. Apparently, it dates back to 800 AD and was once one of the biggest fortresses in Franche-Comte. Tonight is the official 'Welcome aboard' dinner.
On Monday, shortly after leaving our mooring, we can glance back, up an arm of the river toward the magnificent panorama of Ray-sur-Saone and its typically Burgundian church and stunning chateau high on the hill behind. The destination of last nights foray.
Gray is the first sizeable town we encounter. Steep streets climb from the Saone to its handsome old quarter containing beautiful buildings such as the Notre Dame Basilica started in the 15th century, tourist office and Hotel de Ville (town hall). It's another chance to dine ashore should you so desire and my recommendation, although not a budget choice, would be to take a taxi 6km out of town to the magnificent 18th century and 3 star hotel 'Chateau de Rigny'. It's set in parkland on the banks of a section of river too shallow for the barge to navigate. It's interior offers all the trappings of the period and would, I'm sure be a Wonderful choice for dinner.
A little further downstream from Gray, the small village of Mantoche reveals its beautiful riverside chateau and Tuesday sees us cruise through wonderful pastoral scenery with white Charolais cattle grazing in the fields towards a late afternoon arrival in the town of Auxonne with its ruined riverside turrets and interesting 15th century buildings at its heart. The Notre-Dame church is worth a visit and this is another location where I think you might enjoy a meal out. There are restaurants in Auxonne, but my suggestion is called 'Virion', located 8km out of town. Well prepared regional fare at reasonable prices in one of two homely dining rooms within this friendly village tavern.
On Wednesday we arrive in the river port of St-Jean-de-Losne, and the self proclaimed waterways capital of France, lying as it does near the junctions of no less than six major navigations. Its a pleasant enough place with a very 'boaty' feel, lovely town quay, Marina and boatyards. If we manage to get a mooring it's a great place to spark up the BBQ having maybe enjoyed a cold beer or two in the quayside bar. Should you prefer to dine out tonight, the Auberge de la Marine is a great place for a cheap tasty meal.
Leaving St. Jean de Losne early on Thursday morning, we slightly retrace our steps along the Saone before turning off the River and down the 'Canal du Rhone au Rhin' towards today's destination, the wonderful Jura city of Dole. The city was home to Louis Pasteur and is a bustling place with lots of narrow streets, good shopping, great eateries and outdoor cafes. There is loads to see and even a Pizza boat moored in the harbour producing excellent pizza cooked in the wood oven aboard. We will either moor in the port, or just outside under an avenue of plane trees, particularly if the weather is hot. A great choice of restaurant would be 'Les Templiers', hearty food in a 13th century cellar.
Getting to Port-sur-Saone by train from Paris takes about Five hours but the return journey from Dole to Paris taking just two and a half hours by direct TGV.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Unforeseen circumstances sometimes affect our cruising schedule. These can include, but are not limited to: illness, floods, weather, canal closures, canal maintenance, lack of moorings, bureaucracy, strikes, civil disturbance, acts of god, the engine, and whims and fancies of both skipper, guests and crew. All of these things might cause last minute changes to the above and cruise routes. Although rare, we reserve the right to alter any and all routes accordingly. Flexibility is the name of the game and any such changes cannot be considered grounds for cancellation of the cruise.