The Port de Plaisance in Auxerre. Hard to imagine a prettier place to keep your boat!
October 2012 - Page 3
Driving from Saint-Jean-de-Losne up
to Paris (to catch our plane home), we
decided to make a stop at the pretty
town of Auxerre. We have discussed
the possibility of overwintering here next
year, so I thought we should check it
out. When I showed our boat-card (with
a picture of Amarok on it) to "Julie" at
the Capintainerie, she recognized the
boat immediately. Apparently, Amarok,
formerly Lagom, spent some time here.
She also said she'd be happy to have us
next winter, should we decide to come.
Here's an aft view of Mojito, a unique 12-meter barge from
Piper Boats. Just like Amarok, the rear doors open out onto
the aft deck. But unlike Amarok, the pilothouse table
actually drops down to form a double bed.
At the quai in Auxerre, we came across this very cute little barge,
unmistakeably a Piper, and a miniature version of Amarok.
There's no mention of it on their website, but when I inquiered, I
found out it was built for Simon Piper himself (as Amarok was
originally) but a customer insisted on buying it from them.
To replace the Mojito, Simon Piper came up with Monchique. The raised aft deck
allows for a two-cabin, two-head boat with a length under 15 meters. Very clever.
No photos of this brand new boat have yet been published - you saw it first here!
Another view of Auxerre's Port de Plaisance; the Capitainerie is on the right.
Monday, 15 October - We stayed in a
cheap motel near Auxerre. Then, on
Tuesday we drove to Charles de Gaulle
Airport, returned our rental car and
flew, non-stop back to Boston. We
allowed an extra hour for the drive to
CDG, but the traffic around Paris was
awful! What should have been an
hour-and-a-half drive took us 3 hours -
but we made our flight.
We spent 9 weeks in France, 8 weeks
aboard the AMAROK. From Carcassonne
to Saint-Jean-de-Losne, we covered just
over 800 kilometers (500 miles) and we
went through 68 locks.
city, but mid-August is not the ideal time to visit the
fortified bastide "La Cité" as it is crowded with
busloads of tourists.
The Canal de Jonction and Canal de la Robine offered
a nice diversion from the busy Midi and Narbonne was
certainly well worth a visit. Also the little town of
Sallèles-d'Aude was very scenic. (That town is also
memorable as the place where Dean fell overboard,
certainly one of the low points of our trip!)
The section of the Canal du Midi through Argeliers,
Capestang, Poilhès and Columbiers is very pretty
and quite relaxing as there are no locks along this
stretch. (Of course, you make up for it when you get
to the 5-lock, Fonserannes staircase coming into
The PdP (Port de Plaisance) at Béziers was rather
uninspiring, but the next little town of Villeneuve-les-
Béziers was lovely and close enough to Béziers to
allow us make use of the good train service and rental
car depot there.
From here, the Canal du Midi passes close to the
Mediterranean shoreline, so beach access is easy,
particularly from the towns of Portiranges and Vias.
The last noteworthy town along the Midi is Agde, a
lovely little town and well worth the side trip to its town
center on the River Herault.
Coming out into the Etang de Thau was exciting, and
quite liberating after weeks in the canals. The boat
handles noticeably better in deep water and she runs
faster too. We enjoyed our stop in the port of Mèze,
although the marina's €50.00 charge was the most
we've ever paid for overnight dockage - before or since!
The Canal du Rhone à Sète which runs through the
low-lying Camargue region reminded us a bit of the US
Intracoastal Waterway with its bays and long open
views, it was refreshing to cruise along (at 6 knots)
unimpeded by locks.
Aigues-Mortes was one of our favorite stops.
Although a bit touristy, the many shops and restaurants
of this walled city make it a fun destination.
The lovely Mas de Notaire winery in Gallician was
noteworthy - partly because it's just about all there is in
this tiny town.
Saint Gilles (just a bit off our direct route) turned out
to be an unexpected pleasure, mainly because we
arrived just in time for their annual fall Fête.
We had hoped to stop in Arles, just a short distance
downstream from where we joined the great River
Rhône, but we were disappointed by the complete lack
of small boat facilities here. After a short stop, we
continued upstream (against a strong current) to
Avignon which turned out to be much more
accommodating. We spent several days here and came
away with a very positive impression of this lively town.
Here are some highlights...
The huge locks on the Rhône were a bit intimidating at
first, but in reality, they were quite easy to negotiate.
We simply hooked a bow line to one of the floating
bollards and, with the motor idling in forward gear (and
the rudder hard over), up we went! VHF radio
communication was required however, so I did get to
test my French a bit here.
The Roman-built, Pont du Gard aqueduct, a 30-min
drive from Avignon was certainly memorable and well
worth the visit.
Along the Rhône, some of the towns we really liked
were Viviers and La Voulte, both fun places to
explore. And the small city of Valence turned out to be
very nice as well. We enjoyed the changing scenery
along this part of the Rhône, the vineyards on the steep
hillsides were most notable.
At the head of navigation of the Rhône was Lyon,
certainly another of our favorite stopping places. We
stayed a couple days here and could easily have stayed
longer. Lyon in known as the gastronomical capital of
France, but we were also surprised by some of
cathedrals here and the steepness of the hills on the
The locks on the Saône seemed pretty puny after those
on the Rhône. We were pleasantly surprised in
Neuville-sur-Saône when we woke up to find a huge
outdoor market right next to our boat.
Mâcon was certainly welcoming with its free, floating
docks right downtown, and our little side-trip up to
Pont-de-Vaux proved worthwhile. Another, slightly
longer side-trip up the River Seille was fun too, but the
towns along here were pretty small. (We didn't make it
as far as Louhans because of flooding.)
Tournus, like Mâcon, welcomed us with a large, free
floating dock. Our next notable stop was Chalon-sur-
Saône. Although the big marina here claimed not to
accept boats over 15 meters, they were very friendly
and accommodating. We very much enjoyed our 2-day
stay in Chalon.
Verdun-sur-Doubs was very scenic and we enjoyed
the Musée du Pain et Blé (Bread & Flour Museum)
here. Seurre offered pleasant dockage and was our
last stop before our arrival in Saint-Jean-de-Losne.
The free town dock in St-Jean was OK but the
electricity was nonfunctional. We then spent one night
in the crowded H2O basin before heading through the
first lock of the Canal de Bourgogne to the facilities of
Blanquart for some engine maintenance.
Blanquart, however didn't have a crane large enough to
haul out the AMAROK so we eventually headed over to
the H2O yard in Saint Usage where we were hauled out
and set "on the hard" for the winter. If it weren't for
the fact that we needed a bottom job, we would likely
have left the boat in the water for the winter, but it has
been three years since the AMAROK has been hauled
out, so we decided it was time for some bottom work.
Carcassonne on the Canal du Midi
was a bustling, historic and pretty small
Saint-Jean-de-Losne is a great place to start our 2013 cruising season. We'll need
to do some serious planning over the winter to decide where the AMAROK goes next.