These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

19th - 22nd June 2015. Past Mont de Reims and vineyards for champagne by Verzenay. On to Châlons-en-Champagne.

The chalk hill of Mont de Reims lies over to our right, with champagne vineyards to the left of the village of Verzenay. The chalk is perfect for the grapes for making champagne.
We continue steadily up the locks to reach Billy Tunnel. A barge was just leaving the tunnel so, as the lights went green, we hoped for a quick passage. However, only one barge was allowed through our way before the red light, so we had to wait about an hour before we were given permission to go.

The tunnel has lights all the way through, with a narrow towing track, where the train used to run. As the tunnel is 2302 metres, or 1.43 miles long, it was good to see sunshine at the far end.
We were delayed again at a lock, while we waited for the barge, Opa Sigi, to squeeze through, then pass The Puzzler. The lock size here is 38.5 metres by 5.05 metres and Opa Sigi is 39 metres by 5.05 so it is a very tight fit for him.

Having gone down 8 locks, we reached the village of Condé sur Marne, where the original towing train was by the last lock.

The covered market can be seen in the centre of Condé sur Marne and gives the village real character.

On Saturday we moved on to Châlons-en-Champagne, which is a lovely town, with two cathedrals. We visited St. Étienne Cathedral first.

The stained glass windows are most impressive, using this green colour which, we were told, is special to this cathedral.

We saw several timbered houses in the town.

Next it was on to the second cathedral, Notre-Dame-en-Vaux.

Both cathedrals were quite light inside, due to all the glass, which has been used wherever possible, either as stained glass, or as plain leaded windows.

On Sunday we sailed as far as Soulanges, where the village church was quite a contrast to the cathedrals. All these village churches are locked, which is a shame.

We continued on through Vitry-le-François, which is a centre for the restoration of old barges. This one is just having new portholes cut, so has a long way to go.

Just past Vitry we joined the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne. The banks of the canal are lined with many different varieties of trees, and remind us of being in an arbotetum. No labels to identify them all though!

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