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.
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.
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.
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.
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).