Paris to the Bourgogne

By the time you finish reading this section of our blog, we will have covered the best part of the 430 kilometres (Paris to Saint Jean de Losne) and traversed 214 locks. Thanks to all these locks we will have risen to just over 360 metres (or more than 1,200ft) above sea level and will be on our descent.

Graph from our PC-Navigo software showing the elevation for the current Paris to St Jean-de-Losne journey.

The level graphing chart (see image) in our PC-Navigo software makes it look far more dramatic than it actually is, but well tells the story of our ”vertical journey”.

The distance and the locks however, are merely a device for us to try to grasp the many wonderful things we have seen and experienced over the past 30 or so days since we departed Paris. At just 5 or 6 kilometers an hour it might sound as if it’s been life in slow motion but as strange as it might seem, to us it feels quite the opposite. The further we get from Paris, the further into the world of rural, agrarian France we are getting.

The famous Jardin des Tuileries in Paris and so much black clothing.

For one thing, the fashions are very different. The colour in Paris this winter was black. We felt embarrassed to wear anything which was of any other colour and knew that when we went into a restaurant or a museum in anything but black we would immediately be picked as a foreigner.

Out here in “the bush” colour has returned to clothing, so in that way at least we do not feel quite so out-of-place here. The waterways have also gradually changed.

The Seine was wide and gently snakes through the countryside, carrying with it huge commercial peniches, loaded to the gunwales with sand, scrap metal, paper, or containers.

How does the skipper of this barge carrying paper for recycling see his way ahead, we ask ourselves.

One of the huge locks along the Seine, this one narrower than many. That's a commercial barge down there, leaving before us.

The locks were so massive, several of these vast vessels can fit in at one time, along with comparatively tiny “Endellion”.

When we first entered the Yonne it seemed little different from the Seine but gradually it narrowed, the towns became smaller and less sophisticated and the water traffic began to thin out.

The interesting 'V' shaped locks along the Yonne, this one with excellent floating pontoons to tie to.

Some genius at some time had decided on sloping walled locks when building this section. Endellion and just about every other vessel on these waters ways has practically straight sides – we’re a bit like dare I say it, a very big floating shoe box with a sort of  point at the bow.

The swirl of the waters entering or leaving a lock causes us to surge around, so we all need to tie off and snuggle against the lock walls. But how do you even reach the bollards when they are a couple of metres away and what is there to snuggle up against anyway, when the walls are V-shaped?

It’s a big challenge unless, as in some of the Yonne locks, little floating pontoons have been added to make things a little less challenging.

But it’s when you enter the Canal de Bourgogne that you realise you have entered a different world… more to come on this in the next few days…

This Google maps waterway chart from partway up the Seine into St Mammes (at a junction with the Loing Canal) shows where we took our first big stop for, 1. Fuel and 2. Cleaning out our polluted diesel tank and making fuel filtration modifications. You will probably see the route more clearly if you click on ‘Map’ (shown when it launches the Google Satellite image).

About Lesley and Stewart

Loving great waterways of the world.
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3 Responses to Paris to the Bourgogne

  1. John & Mary says:

    Hi Guys
    Just read your blog. Only a year late. We’re moored at St Jean and will be making our way to Paris in about a months time. How many “v-locks” were there, as they look very awkward and we have enough stress in “normal” locks. We went north on the Saone last summer and turned around at Strasburg. 1000km, 500 locks and a bunch of tunnels – all good fun. If you’re still in St Jean at end of May then we should exchange notes. John & Mary

  2. Dean & Gerry says:

    Hi Lesley & Stewart

    Great to hear that you are having such a wonderful experience. Gerry and I are on our way to the IWA National Campaign Rally at Northampton this coming weekend – expecting to see about 100 boats there. We are out for 2 weeks, before returning to Uxbridge. It doesn’t sound quite as wonderful as your journey, but we’re still having a great time. We’ve had amazingly unseasonal hot weather, but it looks as though that’s about to change to a more normal forecast for this time of year.


    Dean & Gerry xx

    • Lesley says:

      Dear Dean .. so great to hear from you and know you are also out there on the waterways. It will be great fun with a group of fellow boaters up there in Northampton and superb trip .. let’s hope the weather continues like this but even if it doesn’t life is wonderful on the water. We’ll be in touch again soon via email to get an update on progress with the Daventry Canal. Love to you both.
      Lesley and Stewart

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