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, 29 May 2018

15th - 26th May 2018. A week at Mailly-le-Chåteau, then on to the end of the Vermenton branch of the canal and, later, a visit to the Caves of Bailly Lapierre.

At Mailly-le-Chåteau, the town is in two halves, being built both at the bottom and at the top of the cliff. Our mooring is just round the corner, in an inlet with room for plenty of boats, with free electric and water.
The second night that we were there, this fleet of five boxey boats arrived, with 45 children on board, aged 10 to 13 years. They were on the last night of their weeks holiday, and came from the outskirts of Paris. After an energetic game of football, they all moved quietly to their campfire, and had obviously had a great week. What well-behaved youngsters!

Shannon found new friends nearby.
Walking back along the canal, we climbed to the top of the cliff in the nature reserve called Bois du Parc. From there we could look right back, across the valley of the Yonne. Our route took us away from the river and canal, through the woods and out on the other side. The road would have been too long a walk to get back, but we found another track back through the wood, and then a lane back to the boat. Throughout the wood we found wild asparagus to pick, which is a really tasty vegetable.

After a week, we left Mailly-le-Chåteau to continue on, and joined the Vermenton branch, which is quite narrow.
We stayed two nights at Accolay, but with a trip up to the end of the canal at Vermenton. Our bikes had their first outing this year, as the supermarket is at the other end of town, and we hadn't seen a shop for 12 days! Do not miss the walk in the Parc des Isles there, as it is well worth a visit. We used the bikes to get to the park, and Shannon really enjoyed riding in the basket again.

Back on the Nivernais Canal, the valley is quite wide here.

Now this is proper cultivated asparagus!
The buildings of Bailly Lapierre can be seen ahead of us, lying halfway up the hillside. The caves where the wine is made, go directly into the rocks behind these buildings.
Inside the caves, the temperature is a steady 12°, so take a warm top with you, when you take the tour! There are about five million bottles in here, all at different stages of maturity.

These caves are full of history, being the source of stone for the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This was my favourite carving - there are several in the caves
The carvings were each done by a different stonemason.

Bailly's have made wine here since 1972 and we bought enough wine to merit a lift back to the mooring!

When we first arrived at the mooring, our deck was level with the stonework.
By the next day, however, the river level had dropped by nearly three feet, so it was a real climb to get off the boat. Apparently the hydraulics at the next weir had jammed open, which we could see as we scraped the bottom of The Puzzler along the lock cut.

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