Saturday, 31 July 2010

Anja, our 108 year old barge

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Back Home

We are back home in Australia.

The three months went so quickly.

We transited the complete Burgundy Canal (the top of which is the highest canal in France), most of the Yonne Riiver and about 40% of the Nivernais Canal. Total distance barged was about 510Km.

Due to the high cost of Internet in France, we saved the last couple of weeks of BLOG until our return to Australia. So, if you have been following our travels, we have just added heaps of text and photos covering the last several weeks.

Best Regards,

Penny and Dave

Valerie : Welcome back i have enjoyed your blog look forward to finishing the journal. See you next week Penny (07/15/10)


Thursday July 8th


And so the sad final day on the Canals arrived. We moved back to Auxerre the day before so that we could pick up our hired car to drive to Champagne to meet our daughter Bernadette and husband Stephen to celebrate Bernadette's 30th birthday on July 4th. We farewelled Alison and Peter who are looking after Anja during the summer and preparing her to spend winter in Migennes.

Patricia, our trusty? navigation tool, had her own fixed ideas about our route to Champagne which did not entirely correspond with Penny's plans, so there was some dissension on the trip to Champagne. Despite that we finally arrived at Reims and met up with Bernadette and Steve who had arrived from Paris after a great holiday in Spain. We had booked a house in Pouilly, a little village about 15kms outside Reims. This village had been destroyed during World War 1 and then rebuilt. Our home for the next few days was very comfortable with two good sized bedrooms and comfortable living areas, with the bonus of a garden and barbeque. On the next morning we woke to find there was no water but a quick call to the proprietor soon righted that. Apparently a switch needed to be flicked or a tap turned, but meanwhile we collected lots of water from the tap outside the Church just in case.

Bernadette's birthday was spent as she liked, visiting Epernay, the centre of the Champagne region; having lunch (and champagne) at a Cave in the town of Ay where there was a Fair in progress; tasting champagne and visiting the Abbey Church where Dom Perignon, the father of champagne is buried in the village of Hautvillers, and finally having dinner at a relaxing restaurant which luckily was open on Sunday night. A sobering note was a visit to a War Cemetery which we passed on our way home, with thousands of graves of Allied and German soldiers who had been killed in that spot in the Second Battle of the Marne, July 1918. We cannot get over the gravity of the loss of so many young men. Every town in France has its long list. No doubt the same is true of Germany, of Turkey and Britain as it is of Australia and New Zealand.

We finished up our trip to Champagne with a final day of wine tasting and a birthday barbeque, then a chance to spend time in Reims itself to explore the beautiful Cathedral where numerous kings of France were crowned. The TGV trip from Reims to the Airport, 150 kms, took half an hour but the shuttle bus wait and trip to the airport hotel, chosen for its proximity to the airport, took an hour and a half. Still, it was a comfortable hotel and convenient the next day: we must have done two thirds of the shuttle loop getting there. We had an uneventful, even trending to good, trip home on Singapore Airlines, with a short transit stop in Singapore, and were met at the airport by William before being picked up by our pre- arranged hire car. Our house sitter had left the house in good order and there was even milk, bread and orange juice for breakfast. It was good to be arriving home at 9pm with no reason not to go to bed and try to catch up on the sleep we didn't have en route. We are already planning for our 2011 trip to France!

Footnote: there are 200,000,000 bottles of Champagne in the cellars of the town of Epernay which is the centre of Champagne. We did dent the supplies a very small amount during our stay!

The main streets of Reims are full of cafes

St Joan of Arc

Some of the windows in the Cathedral

Reims Cathedral- front view

Bern and Steve in Champagne

Bern and Steve in Champagne