My Travel Blog

Exploring the Secluded Charm of Santenay

Lisa and I love the village of Santenay.  There are a couple of fine restaurants, along with a number of excellent wineries.  We especially enjoy visiting the Domaine Chateau de Santenay.  One of the things that makes stopping in Santenay so special is the anchorage.  Surrounded by trees the mooring at Santenay looks out over the village, as the canal at this point is above the valley floor.  It can only hold a few boats, but we seem to manage to find a spot every time we’ve been by.  The smaller boats tend to stay away as there is no power or water.  It’s one of the advantages of owning a large barge like Rabelo.  We carry enough water to easily last us a couple of weeks, and running off the generator is not a problem.  If we wanted to spend one or even two weeks in Santenay we could easily do it whereas a smaller barge is looking at one or two nights max.

Rabelo hidden in the trees at Santenay.

Looking out over the village of Santenay from the Canal du Centre.

On our walk into the village of Santenay.

The beautiful tile roof at the end of the street is part of the Chateau de Santenay.

We decided to pay a visit to Chateau de Santenay, and pickup some of their wines.  Our timing was perfect.  It was right in the middle of their harvest.  Truckloads of grapes were being brought to the winery where they were being de-stemmed and crushed.  With all the visits and tastings we’ve done at wineries around the world this may have been the first time we were actually at a winery for the crush.  Remember when it’s time to pick the grapes the farmers only have a few days to harvest or they will miss gathering the grapes at their prime.

This entire vineyard will be picked in just a couple of days.

We saw dozen of these orange plastic crates filled with grapes about to be crushed.

Grapes going into the de-stemmer.

Lisa holding a few bottles of wine from Chateau de Santenay.

Like most captains, when I’m driving Rabelo I try to avoid excitement.  As they say in France we like things “tranquille”.  Unfortunately that isn’t always the case. Just a few kilometers from Santenay is the town of Chagny.  When it comes to appeal the mooring at Chagny, is almost the exact opposite of Santenays.  It’s large, and right next to a massive factory that makes ceramic roof tiles.The town is okay, but it certainly doesn’t have the charm of Santenay.  Just past Chagny is a section of canal that is as narrow as any I’ve been on.  On one side of the canal are a number of barges that have made a permanent home for them selves.  Avoiding the barges moored on the side of the canal is a challenge as Rabelo only has a foot of clearance on each side.  Clearly it is impossible to pass another boat on this section of canal. Coming from Santenay you enter the turning basin at Chagny, and make a hard right turn to enter the very narrow section of canal.  Just as I was making that hard right turn I heard the horn of another barge.  It was a full size hotel barge, almost a kilometer away, just entering the narrow section of canal from the opposite end.  I put Rabelo in reverse, but there were three rental boats right behind me.  They had no business being so close, but what could I do?  Rental boat people don’t have a clue when it comes to operating a boat safely.  Eventually we got everything straightened out.  The hotel barge passed, and I let the rental boats go ahead of me.

Three rental boats right behind me.

A hotel barge entering the turning basin at Chagny while trying to pass a rental boat.

– 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.