After our shake-down cruise we welcomed Francis and Emilie on board for a week of cruising on the Rhine au Rhone canal. Still having engine starting issues but … it works most of the time.
With only a week we decide on a one-way cruise. First, a short jog up the Saone to Auxonne and then back down the Saone to catch the Canal de Rhone au Rhine (the Saone empties into the Rhone at Lyon so is considered part of the Rhone system).
Napoleon is pretty big in Auxonne – he went to military school here and they are quite proud of him. After walking around a bit we drug our chairs up to a pretty spot (out of the sun!) overlooking the river for a aperitif.
A bit later the most amazingly dirty boat pulled in right behind us. I think it belongs to Pigpen.
We left Auxonne in the morning and headed for the first lock on the Canal de Rhone au Rhine. The canal jumps in and out of the river Doube and a good part of our trip was in the river. The first lock is manned and we got a lecture about safety, locking technique and how to operate the remote that we were given to operate the locks in this canal (they are almost all automatic).
We did a longish day (7 locks and 25Km) to get to Dole. We planned to spend all next day here exploring. This turned out to be a great call since Dole is wonderful. Charming city with lots of shops and restaurants and the marina is quite nice.
And Louis Pasteur is BIG in Dole. He was born here and this year is the bicentennial of his birth. We had a nice dinner at a place on the (no longer used) Canal des Tanneurs where, incidentally Pasteur’s father had a business and where Pasteur was born.
And, because there is always something we don’t understand, here is a little gem from Dole… I especially like the DeLorean as a waffle.
From Dole we took two days to get to Besancon, the biggest city on this excursion with a population well over 100,000. We stopped at Ranchot, a little town the first night.
We wandered around the village and stumbled into a local artist exhibition in the chapel where Francis and Emilie bought a souvenir painting.
The trip from Ranchot to Besancon is highlighted by a short tunnel section and one double lock.
Besancon is a very old city (dating back to Roman times). The original city was on almost an island made by the Doube and easily defended. There are still remnants of huge fortifications above the city.
We spent an afternoon at the Victor Hugo museum (he was born there) and did the tourist “Petite Train” ride around the city.
This region (Franche-Comte) was not part of France until the 17th century when it was conquered (by Louis 14?) (though it was also part of Spain – this is very confusing). And some people obviously think that was a mistake.