Sunday, 8 July 2012

France: Canal Boat Trip, Day 5, Herry to Ménétréole-sous-Sancerre

9 May 

From the travel journal:

After breakfast I sent off an SMS to check on how the pussycats are faring at Blue Ice. Got a reply back pretty quickly saying they are just fine and not to worry. Great to have such a top place to leave them when we’re away, but really missing those little girls. Goodness knows how people with children manage when they’re away from their kids – don’t think I could do that.

By the tie-up point in Herry

We then secured the boat and walked up into the village, which is quite a charmer with some wonderful buildings and an old, old church.

By the tie-up point in Herry

Now, here’s the funny thing with the church – the position of the clock on one side. Wondered if it was one of those “Confuse the devil” things like that famous clock in Italy (think it is). Anyway, on the other side the clock is centred, as you expect it to be, but our first glance made us go “What the?”

See what I mean about that clock?
 Herry is a fabulous village to wander around in, and, like Nevers and Cours-les-Barres, we really wished we had more time to spend here. Got a few photographs, though, of the place, including the delightful Marie (town hall).

Lovely Marie in Herry

Before going back to the boat we sought out – of course – the patisserie and picked up a baguette, a superb quiche, and a couple of those to-die-for Paris Brest cakes. Yum!

Is this charming, or what?
 Set off from Herry up the canal on our way to Ménétréole-sous-Sancerre. Passed through some fabulous scenery on the way. We are so glad that we took the advice of French Travel Connections and did this waterway because the scenery is just exactly what we were hoping to see. 

Great scenes

Coming in to Ménétréole-sous-Sancerre is great, the town looks lovely. We planned to tie up there because it’s got really good power and water facilities, and of course there is no way you can miss out on visiting Sancerre while you’re so close – you can see it, up on top of the hill, from the canal.

Approaching Ménétréole-sous-Sancerre

However, when we got to the dock area, there was a HUGE passenger barge, the “Anna-Maria IV”, tied up and she took up most of the tie-up area. Then there was another canal boat tied up behind her.  Because of this, there was no way we could reach either the power or the water, even with the really long extension cable that the master of the barge kindly offered to lend us. 

The canal-side bars/bistros

We really wanted to see a bit of this town, though, so we tied up anyway and set off for a bit of a walk, and hopefully to find a pharmacie where we could pick up some good strong cold and flu tablets as we were both quite sick by now despite our pleasure of just being here. Strangely, for what seems like a good sized town, we couldn’t find anything at all retail-wise other than a couple of bistros or bars opposite the canal! 

A town so worth exploring

What a display!

Disappointed, we headed back to the boat. Now, to make matters worse, the water level was so high that I couldn’t get back on the vessel except by sort of pulling myself up backwards so that I parked my bum on the edge of the boat and then swung my legs on the deck. So, here we are, in a town we were so looking forward to visiting, and the reality was: (a) we couldn’t even buy milk, (b) we couldn’t get some much-needed throat lozenges and cold tablets, (c) I had a real problem getting on and off the vessel. Add that to the fact that we couldn’t get power or water because of the length of the barge plus the smaller canal boat, we realised, sadly, that we simply couldn’t stay here and had to forget our visit to Sancerre and carry on. 

Ho, ho, ho! We cruised up to St Satur, where we could see there was a large Champion supermarket, but the tie-up points here were just a repeat of Chapelle, ie anything but inviting. So, we then turned into a little side canal with the intention of tying up at St-Thibault. Now, this place looked great, and we were quite happy at the prospect of spending the night here. Fate was against us today: the marina at St-Thibault was absolutely chockers and there was no way we could get in there.  This was getting to be one very frustrating day. 

We think it's inhabited. How ancient is this building.
Wow, we are definitely not in Kansas now, Toto.

Bottom line: we are now back in Ménétréole-sous-Sancerre. The good news is that the other canal boat which had been tied up behind the “Anna-Marie IV” had now left, and so we were able to get power and water. And, hey, there are those two bars and a boulangerie – very important – so we will be fine here for breakfast, and in the morning we’ll be able to get a taxi up the hill to Sancerre. Meanwhile, we can hunker down, drink wine, have a nice meal and stay warm.


Check back later when I’ll post about our visit to Sancerre – a place never to be missed. Thank God we were able to get back to Ménétréole-sous-Sancerre.

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