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Chatel Censoir to Coulange sur Yonne
Canal du Nivernais

Tuesday, July 4th -- Chatel Censoir to Coulange sur Yonne (7.9 km , 4 Locks)

Rain met us in the morning as we woke up, thus canceling our plans for a family walk to the hilltop church. Julie and I went out in the rain to visit the baker and butcher to get bread and pork chops for the barbecue. We then went out again to the supermarket (about the size of a 7-11 in the U.S.) to get water, paper goods, and some other groceries. We ran into one of the partiers from the night before who said bonjour and just laughed, slightly embarrassed.

The flowers at Lock 56, le Place

It stopped raining and we shoved off. The first lock that we hit was Number 56, Le Place. I had read somewhere that Le Place was THE most picture perfect lock on the canal. And I guess that it was if you find garden gnomes beautiful.

To the side of the lock there was a wooden cart tipped on end and filled with geraniums. The bridge that spanned the lock and the lock gates themselves were also covered with geraniums in flower boxes. Grass covered much of the surrounding area and everywhere you looked were garden elves, gnomes, and dwarfs. There had to be at least 50 of them. The lock keepers were obviously very proud of their lock, telling us that it was the only one like it on the whole canal. We told them that it was very beautiful and they just nodded and smiled.

Once we were in the lock we saw another boat zigzagging up the canal towards the lock. It was literally bouncing off the canal banks. The lock keepers both stood on the bridge looking at this boat while talking to one another and shaking their heads. The boat finally made it in to the lock, bouncing off the lock gates and walls.

The boat was a small one that appeared to be rented my a Parisian couple for a romantic getaway. Once they got in the lock things did not get a whole lot better. While the man stayed at the wheel with his sweater draped over his shoulders just so, the woman was trying to free the mooring lines that were tangled under their bikes. Julie caught their lines and helped them make fast the boat. This couple haunted us for the next two days as we saw them everywhere, both on and off the canal.

Evie and the kids play mini-golf at Coulange sur Yonne

We had a short day on the canal, stopping in Coulange sur Yonne. Why?--Because it had a miniature golf course!

It was a short walk from the boat to the golf course at a campground and the charge was 5 FF per person. After paying they gave us a large key to open the gate for the course.

The mini-golf course was unlike anything that any of us had ever see. The person who built the course must have gotten a great deal on some concrete that he had no use for. He probably woke up one morning and said-- Wow, I think that I will build a mini-golf course today! It had ramps to launch balls in the air towards a bullseye circle. It had perfect 4 foot cones which the hole was at the vey top. Somehow Patrick got 2 holes-in-one on this unusual course. It was a fun experience.

Rolls of hay in canalside fields

The mooring spot a Coulange sur Yonne was only fair. They were in the process of updating it, but in typical French fashion they had yanked out the bollards, torn up the quay, ran utility conduits, and stopped working on it.

Our favorite French couple was the only other boat moored in this village. We grilled pork chops outside after a fierce thunderstorm passed by. Christopher loved the thunder and lightning, something that we rarely see in California. The countryside on this section of canal was very beautiful, mostly softly rolling hills with occasional outcroppings of rocks and cliffs carved a long time ago by the Yonne river. Rolls of hay dotted the green fields while white cows found whatever shade that they could to try to keep cool.

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