My Travel Blog

A Brief History of Vermenton – The Logging Town of France

We continued on our journey up the Canal du Nirvernais. Kevin said the village of Vermenton should not be missed even though it was three miles off the main canal on an even smaller side canal. I checked the chart, and once again the bridges were too low for us to pass, but that hadn’t stopped us yet.

We were in the heart of the Morvan region, at one time a vast area covered by forest.  Beginning in 1547 the trees were cut down to heat Paris, but fortunately that pretty much ended in the late 1800’s. Vermenton was right in the thick of the all the action. Loggers cut the trees, placed a stamp on each log so that it could be identified as theirs, and then floated them down the Yonne River to Vermenton.  The logs were taken out of the water, and placed in stacks based upon who owned them.  Eventually they would tie the logs together, and build large rafts. Three or four men would climb aboard and maneuver the rafts down the Yonne to the Seine where they would end up in Paris. It was dangerous work. The logs were constantly moving, especially as the rafts went over rapids and through the man-made sluices along the untamed river. If you stepped in the wrong place you could lose a leg. Fortunately for us the trees have mostly grown back, and our little side trip was well worth the time.

Pulling logs out of the Yonne River.

A raft of logs being maneuvered down the Yonne River to Paris.

A celebration at the end of the season.

We did a little sightseeing from Vermenton, and found this really cool fort that was for sale. As a kid I was constantly building forts, and have always wanted to own one.  But alas, Lisa being the more sensible one wouldn’t let me buy it.  Oh rats! It wasn’t a very big fort.

Wouldn’t it have been cool to own a fort?

 A sand beach in Vermenton.

We headed back to the Canal du Nivernais, and pointed Rabelo’s bow towards our ultimate goal of Clamecy. As we continued up this amazingly beautiful canal not only were there incredible sights to take in at every curve, but also new challenges. It was getting harder and harder driving our big baby on this very tight waterway.  The bridges were getting lower, the curves tighter, and while we hadn’t hit the bottom we could tell that we were close. With so little water under Rabelo’s hull our big girl became very sluggish, and did not respond to the rudder as quickly.

The bridges are getting lower.

The turns are getting tighter.

Our next stop was Les Rochers du Saussios.  Kevin likes to surprise us, and we loved what he had planned next. The canal ran right by these fantastic rock cliffs. Best of all there was a mooring for us in front of them. Rock climbers come from all over the country to test their skills.Fortunately there was an easy hiking trail right in front of where we had moored. Lisa and I got out our hiking sticks and off we went. The climb wasn’t particularly difficult until we were just below the top of the vertical ridge. Lisa had a few choice words for my decision to take the trail we were on. She had wanted to take a different trail that was another 100 yards up the canal. Lisa may have been right, but I’ll never admit to it.  Besides how was I supposed to know? Eventually we made it to the top where the view was well worth the effort, and we got some great shots of Rabelo from a new angle.

Moored in les Rochers du Saussios.

Looking down on Rabelo from Les Rochers.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels



About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.