My Travel Blog

Sancerres, Sommeliers and Unwanted Guests of The Burgundy Canal

In my last blog I wrote about building spreader bars to hold Rabelo off the quay in Dijon. The reason for the spreader bars was because we’ve had problems with unwanted visitors. My thought process was that placing six feet of water between the land and Rabelo would be a significant deterrent. As ominous as having uninvited guests may sound it’s been more of an annoyance than a problem. At no time have we ever felt threatened,

That should take care of any unwanted guests.

On one occasion a tourist decided he wanted pictures of his kids on Rabelo. He hoisted the little ankle snappers onto our boat to get a few shots. When we heard the noise on deck Lisa ran up and told the gentlemen that Rabelo was a private vessel. He needed to remove his children immediately, but only after he got his pictures. There was another occasion that was a bit more disconcerting. It was around midnight. Lisa and I were in bed. For most of the evening we had been listening to half a dozen teenagers on shore drinking and mostly talking, though at times rather loud. At some point they quieted down, but didn’t leave. When you live on a boat listening for mysterious sounds becomes second nature. I can’t say what I heard that grabbed my attention, but I turned to Lisa and said, “I think someone is on our boat. You better go check.” I’m kidding. I threw on some clothes, and ran up to the pilothouse. Low and behold there were the six teenagers sitting in a circle on our deck just chatting. I yelled at them from the safety of the pilothouse to get the F**k off my boat. They instantly jumped ashore, but didn’t run away. I sat there glaring at them until they finally dispersed, and presumably went home. So far our spreader bars are working as planned, and have provided an added sense of security.

We never know what we’ll see on the canals. On the way to Dijon we stopped at the village of Ouges, and went for a walk to visit some friends that were moored further up the canal.  We came across over a hundred Gendarmes dressed in full military garb on a training exercise.  Lisa went to take a picture of one group. They waved her off, saying no pictures. She waited a few minutes and took pictures of the next group.

Gendarmes on a training mission.

We think of the Gendarmes as police, but they are actually part of the French military.

Whenever we go to Dijon Lisa has to eat at her favorite restaurant. We’ve probably eaten at Chapeau Rouge at dozen times. We arrived Saturday night only to find they did not have a record of our reservation. Fortunately the Maître d’hotel recognized us. Even though they were filled that night he said we should not worry. He would take care of us. We were escorted into a lounge where he poured us a couple flutes of champagne, and made sure we were given some hors d’oeuvres. After our aperitif we were taken to our table for another incredible Chapeau Rouge meal.


Ox tail and tomato.

Charolais Beef.

One of three desserts!

Their sommelier, or wine expert, is exceptional. He is ranked as one of the best in France. I’m always nervous about asking a sommelier for help. I’m afraid they’ll recommend a $300.00 bottle of wine, and I’ll have to explain that I’m too cheap to spend that much money. This time I was looking at their extensive wine list, and had decided on a Sancerre, which are made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. This is Lisa’s favorite wine. The sommelier asked if he could help, and I explained what I wanted, and did he have a recommendation. He pointed at the least expensive Sancerre on the menu, and said I would love it. He was right! Not only did I love the wine I loved the price, and so did Lisa.

A beautiful spring day to walk along the Burgundy Canal.

A lock house with lawn gnomes.

Just another beautiful day on the Burgundy Canal.

– 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.