My Travel Blog

Aubigny and Chateau de la Verrerie

We picked up our friend Steve at the Briare train station, and drove back to Rabelo.  Our mooring in the village of Lere was not the most scenic.  We were next to a grain silo. These imposing structures are found all along the canals.  Some are still in use though many have been abandoned.  They are a constant reminder that the reason for building the extensive canal system in France was to transport commerce. Most of the canals were built with private money as a for profit venture. Unfortunately modern rail and trucking has mostly supplanted the use of barges on the smaller canals where we spend most of our time. They have not been maintained to the standards required for commercial barging.  For example Rabelo is considered a Frycinet barge, which designates the maximum length, width, depth and height that a barge can be to use most of the smaller canals. This standard was established in the mid 1800’s.  Barges like Rabelo were designed to carry 375 tons of cargo, but most of the smaller canals are so shallow that Frycinet barges can only carry 245 tons.  France is starting to realize how important their canal infrastructure is, and they are making inroads to improve it. We of course have become the unintended beneficiaries.

Picking up our friend Steve at the train station. What do you think of the shirt??

Rabelo tied up in Lere. Note the atomic energy plant on the right side of the picture.

Some cows came to visit us while on a walk.

Despite our less than perfect mooring Kevin came to the rescue once again. He made arrangements for the woman that runs the tourist office to give us a tour of the local church’s crypt that had recently been unearthed.The crypt was built in the 9th century and was where the relics of St. Martin were hidden from the Norman invaders (Vikings). Remnants of the 13th century fresco’s can still be seen on the ceiling.

Note the remnants of the Roman arch just the above the more modern Gothic arch.

Lisa headed down into the 9th century crypt.

You can still see the original 800 year old frescos.

One does not live on bread alone, but when in France that old cliché may be up for debate. Apparently we were running low on baguettes and Lisa noticed a boulangerie just off the canal. She yelled for me to stop the boat not knowing that you don’t stop a 200-ton barge on a dime. I threw Rabelo into full reverse and a few hundred yards further down the canal we came to a stop. Steve and Lisa jumped off Rabelo, and ran back to get us a baguette and of course some pastries for dessert that evening.  I swear that woman is trying to fatten me up just like a Thanksgiving turkey.

The next day we visited the village of Aubigny.This unique town has a very Scottish influence, which is visible wherever you look.It was not what we were expecting to find in the middle of France. Apparently the pubs and bars pride themselves on the fine Scotch whiskies they serve.  Fortunately, I don’t care for Scotch.

Lisa and Steve picking up some nourishment for dinner that night.

A sculpture in the center of a roundabout in Aubigny.

A pub in Aubigny.

Chateau de la Verrerie.

Our next stop was Chateau de la Verrerie, or Chateau of the Glass. This well preserved chateau sits in the middle of a forest on a beautiful lake. As we were driving up the long driveway Lisa fell in love with the place. Being the ever practical one I reminded her of all the bathrooms and acres of floors that needed cleaning and sweeping. She said I need not worry, we were keeping Rabelo.

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

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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.