My Travel Blog

Clamecy or Bust – Come Hell or High Water!

Before leaving Les Rochers du Saussois we decided to go for a drive. The first stop was a cave with ancient petroglyphs.  They didn’t allow photographs, so you’ll have to excuse the quality of the pictures. I couldn’t use the flash for fear of being caught. At times Lisa gets a little claustrophobic. She was allowed to go inside the cave for a few minutes to see how she would react.  It didn’t go well, so I had to do the tour without her.

Stalactites and stalagmites.

We then headed to Vezelay.  This very touristy town is famous for it’s massive basilica. Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine is the largest example of Romanesque architecture in France. They even have a bone that was supposedly from Saint Mary Magdeleine. She was the first to see the risen Christ, and the patron saint of prisoners. The bone may have been Mary Magdeleine’s, though I have some doubts.

The Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine.

A religious relic. A bone from Mary Magdeleine.

After our little tour it was time to continue our journey to Clamecy. But before we could untie our lines we had a surprise visit from an old friend. We met Michael five years ago when we and two other couples chartered the hotel barge, Papillion. Michael was our tour guide.  We’ve stayed in touch via email, but our paths have never crossed again, until now. Needless to say it was great getting together with an old friend.

Our old friend Michael from the barge Papillion.

As we travel down the many canals and rivers of Europe it is not unusual for people to take pictures of Rabelo.  When the VNF lockkeepers start taking your picture that’ s special. These people spend their days staring at barges. While Rabelo is an unusually large private barge she is still not that special. It was pretty obvious that they hadn’t seen a barge like Rabelo in some time.

As we continued on our journey of discovery Kevin had another surprise for our last night before arriving in Clamecy.  We moored in the country away from any towns or villages, but directly across from a beautiful chateau.  I always enjoy parking in the middle of nowhere. The sounds of frogs, insects, and birds along with the profusion of stars in the sky are special. We were so close to Clamecy I could almost taste the bottle of Champagne we would open to help celebrate the end of a successful journey. Just one short day and we would be there.  There was nothing special about Clamecy.  It was just the accomplishment of getting there that was so exciting. Even though the charts said it was impossible for us to make this trip, it looked like I would have to admit that Kevin was right.

A beautiful private chateau.

Flowers along the canal.

The beautiful Canal du Nivernais.

Our plan was to stay in Clamecy for a few nights, and then Kevin would drive us to the airport.  We are going on safari in Africa along with a quick layover in Dubai. Kevin and a deckhand will deliver Rabelo back to the Burgundy canal where we will meet her upon our return

There was one final bridge we were particularly worried about. I was at the helm, as we approached this last obstacle at a snails pace.  Kevin kept checking the height, though his body language and the look on his face said all I needed to know.  I stopped Rabelo with the top of our pilothouse less than a foot from the bridge. There was no way we were going to make it.  I placed our big baby in reverse and backed away from this one last obstruction. I was disappointed, but Kevin was not worried at all. The bridge was right in front of a lock. Kevin merely asked the lockkeeper to lower the water level in the canal four inches. It took about twenty minutes, and we were through. Our next stop was Clamecy.

The bridges are getting lower and lower. The “W” tells the captain of the one large hotel barge on the canal to remove the wheel when going under the bridge.

One of the incredible lunches from chef Lisa.

-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.