My Travel Blog

The ‘Fools’ Visit to France

We have been members of the esteemed hiking group the Heartbreak Hiking Fools for over ten years. When we’re in California we hike three days a week with them, and thus have developed some very close friendships. Jon and Cherolyn are both fools, as in Heartbreak Hiking Fools, and have already been on Rabelo twice. This year was trip number three for them. Our friend Rocky is one of the founding members of our hiking group, and this was her first time on Rabelo.

While the Canal du Vosges may be one of the most beautiful in France we found that there was not a lot to do in the area other than enjoy the beauty. Whenever we have guest we always feel obliged to show them the sights. We first went to Ville-sur-Illon where we thought we would find a WWII memorial. All there was, was an old WWII tank.  The ladies, though in this case girls is probably more appropriate, had to climb up on the tank like three young kids. We then went on a walk through green pastures, and found some curious cows, but that was about all there was in Ville-sur-Illon.

The three kids on a tank.

What are you looking at?

The next day we decided to drive to the city of Besançon. Located on the Doubs River it is a place I’ve always wanted to take Rabelo. I’ve talked to a number of people about navigating on the Doubs. Half of them told me don’t even think about doing it in Rabelo without a bow thruster. The other half said the current can be a problem as the river tends to rise quite rapidly. Just watch the weather, and you’ll be fine.

After driving to Besançon, and checking the place out the Doubs River be damned. Within the next few years we are definitely going there. The good news is the southern end of the river is just a few miles from our winter mooring in Saint Jean de Losne. The Northern end will drop us on the Rhine River not far from Strasbourg.

While on a walk we found this little guy. It was the first hedgehog we’ve ever seen.

The five of us having dinner in Besançon.

Rabelo moored in Girancor.

When was the last time you saw a phone booth?

When was the last time you saw a phone booth?

A view of the Doubs from the Citadel.

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in Besançon so the first thing we did was head to the citadel. Located high on a hill above the city and the Doubs River it was an amazing assemblage of ancient fortifications. They have turned the old fortress into a zoo, and a number of different museums. But first we had to check out the views. We climbed up and down stairway after stairway to take in each of the spectacular vistas.  After all those stairs we then visited some of the museums. My favorite was the museum that featured amphibians and insects. Lisa called it the creepy crawly place. One of the rooms that I found rather unusual was a laboratory. We weren’t allowed in the laboratory, but we could see what was going on inside through a large window. No one was working there at the time, but that didn’t matter. The lab was intended for the study of spiders. Half the spiders were in glass display cases where they belonged. It was the other half that caught our attention. Those spiders were allowed to build their webs wherever they pleased. The ceiling was covered with webs being spun by giant spiders. Some were as much as three to four inches across. Was this the boss’s idea of how to fashion a creative work environment? Imagine concentrating on your computer screen, and a giant spider lands on your head. I’m sure I’d have something creative to say!

The Citadel in Besançon.

Big green bugs.

This guy was just hanging around the laboratory viewing window minding his own business.

Fortunately this guy was in a glass display case.

– 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.