Part A: The Voyage
we last wrote, we were trying to navigate down the River Doubs.
We did finally make it without further ado; a hard rain added more than 2
feet (80 cm) to the river level, and we rode the flood all the way down.
We were very happy to be rid of the Doubs!
Marseilles, here we come.
Doubs empties into the Sâone which empties into the Rhone.
And the Rhone in its turn empties into the sea.
So that was the route. We
had traveled the Sâone and Rhone last summer, so they were familiar to us.
We tried to skip those places where we stopped last time unless something
special lured us back.
and Chalons-sur-Saone got our attention this trip. Verdun is a sleepy little town with medieval character but
Chalons is much larger and more interesting.
Chalons-sur-Saone is the home of Nicéphore Niépce, the inventor of
photography. There is a splendid
museum of photography there; the special exhibit featured fashion photography
from the USA done in the 1950s.
(Click on the photo for a larger view; use Back to return to text)
the Sâone joins the Rhone sits the city of Lyon. And what a city it is! Our
friend, Daniel, was away so we missed seeing him, but we saw something else.
Sunday afternoon was the major procession for the International Dance
Festival. More of a party than a
competition, the Festival featured large dance troupes (many had more than 100
dancers), loud music and colorful costumes.
We stood in the sunshine and took it all in.
What a kick.
the way we met some interesting people, as we always do.
One favorite couple had just bought an old boat and were making their
first summer cruise. David and Linda had some sailing experience, but the rivers
and locks were pretty new to them. Their
boat is so new to them that the name has yet to be painted on the side, so they
have a paper taped to the window.
boat is a 95-year old workboat converted to cruising. It has a great shape, but the old engine does smoke a bit.
In one lock they lost steering just as they were tying up.
They were delayed for over an hour while David repaired the broken chain
with some steel wire. Not only were
David and Linda delayed, but that whole part of the Rhone stopped moving while
they were trapped in the lock.
admired our homemade passerelle. Since
we were leaving the rivers we had no further use of it, we transferred ownership
and the passerelle is getting a second lease on life aboard Bolleke.
We lost track of them as they broke off to head for the Canal du Midi for
Part B: The Help
of our featured stops last year and this was Avignon. The old city wall still circles the city and the Papal Palace
is just as spectacular as it was last year.
The big difference this time was that The Help arrived!
hadn’t had big-time help in ages, not since Bernard helped us cross the
Atlantic. But here came Tom and
Robyn. They said they came to work,
and work they did.
and Robyn cruised the last bit of the Rhone with us to the marina where we had
left the masts, spars and sails in June 2011.
What a difference they made! We
completed all the necessary jobs, and even got to some we thought we’d have to
pass up. The stainless steel
fittings gleamed as they haven’t in years after Robyn had her way with them.
Almost single-handed Tom tuned the standing rigging and assured us the
masts would stay up. It took a solid week to get it all done, with four of us
working all day.
photo from the top of the mast was taken by Sharon. It was supposed to be done by Tom, but after blowing the
electric windlass circuit breaker twice with him at the end of the rope, Sharon
had to step in.
we had good friends to kick back with in the evenings, so the work wasn’t so
tedious. When the work was done,
and Seraphim looking more like a much-loved sailboat then she had in a
year, we shared the last sail of the season and moved on to our winter home in
Marseilles. This brings us to
Part C: The Tour
wasn’t over yet. Tom and Robyn
rented an apartment in Provence and invited us to join them for a week’s tour
of part of this lovely corner of the world.
What a treat! Each day we
chose a different town or village to visit and then deviated from that plan
whenever the spirit moved us. Throughout
the area, the last of the grapes were just being harvested, but a few were left
“perched towns” and villages are pretty and interesting.
We visited one that had belonged to the princes of Monaco in the past,
another with the house Picasso left to his mistress and one that was the
“ochre capital of the world” (red pigment).
There are markets and brocantes that take your breath away.
And narrow streets so steep that they do the same.
It is a magical place.
trip to Provence capped a late-summer that started on the Rhine near the Swiss
border and finished on the Mediterranean Sea.
We suffered some angst, especially on the Doubs, but mostly we took in
the beauty of the countryside and the towns.
We met interesting people and spent time with good friends.
It wasn’t what we’d planned for this summer, but Hey!
It’s an adventure, isn’t it?
just beginning to explore Marseille. What
we know so far is that it’s noisy. That
might have something to do with slapping sails and halyards.
We’ll adjust. We always do. More
on Marseilles to follow!