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.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

28th May - 6th June 2017. On through weed to Joinville and Vitry-le-Françoise, then a right turn on to la Marne au Rhin canal (Ouest) to Bignicourt.

The section of canal before Joinville has a lot of weed. This canal crosses the river Marne many times, so the canal narrows at each aqueduct, where loose weed collects. We have crossed a short aqueduct just before lock 44, and the lock gates really do not want to close, as the weed is so thick. Eventually they were forced shut, so we could continue. A boat waiting below the lock thought that we were messing about!

There are a great many dragonflies about.
We moored at the restaurant mooring at Joinville, as it is much nearer to the big supermarket, as we had seen all of the town, when we were here, two years ago. This weedcollector is a welcome sight!

It was a little tricky, getting near enough to the water tap. We did not have the correct hose fitting, so could not use our long hose, but luckily no other boats came along, while we blocked the canal.
Sadly many of the lock houses are not in use on this part of the canal. The railway lines can be seen just behind this house, so we can go and play on the lines if we are bored! These lines run alongside the canal for miles, but there is no restriction of access at all.

We operate the locks with this telecommand, and Shannon is trying to help.
Leaving the Champagne au Burgundy Canal at Vitry-le-Françoise, we turn right on to la Marne au Rhin Canal (Ouest) and continue to Bignicourt. Jake and Rachel, with Trigger of course, on Catherine Clark, arrived just as we did, so how was that for timing! They have been travelling a different route for the last month, via the Vosges Canal, to get here.

We spent the rest of that day playing games, and had a very pleasant barbeque beside the boats.

Bignicourt was an interesting village, with many different styles in the houses.

Their letter boxes are in groups, instead of each being beside individual houses.

The weather was threatening, but we enjoyed exploring the village.
In the graveyard are some military war graves, commemorating the first battle of the Marne, from 6th - 11th September 1914. The 12th company of the 72nd Infantry Regiment were based at Bignicourt, in order to prevent the Germans crossing the River Saulx, and the canal de la Marne au Rhin, particularly at the lock. As a result of their fortitude in this battle, the villagers of Bignicourt were awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm.

Shannon made friends with a sheep. Neither of them was really sure what to make of each other!

The grounds of Bignicourt Château were open to the public for the weekend. As this only happens once each year, we are lucky to have come now.

As we are not in a hurry, we have stayed at Bignicourt for six nights, which is our longest stay anywhere, during the summer months, since arriving in mainland Europe. It is a lovely mooring.


  1. Interesting that the weed peril not just here on the Burgundy.
    We have had to turn round as reports of weed from Dijon to St.Jean just too bad. Apparently the weed cutter in Dijon is now broken - probably by the weeds !
    Particularly annoyed (not usually mad with them) as lock-keepers now push the loose weeds into the lock with you to travel down the canal instead of hoisting them out which they were doing a couple of weeks ago. Hope your onward trip safe. We're going to do battle with the weeds up to St.Flo and then decide if to just give it up this year as water level problem on Nivernais now. Hey ho

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