My Travel Blog

Vandenesse-en-Auxois by Way of Abbaye de la Bussierie

We continued up the Burgundy Canal towards our ultimate destination of Vandenesse-en-Auxois (Vandenesse).There is a three-kilometer tunnel at the summit of the Burgundy Canal that Rabelo is too big to fit through. Vandenesse is the last village before the tunnel, so that’s where we stop and turnaround.

From Dijon to Vandenesse the Burgundy Canal runs through the Ouche Valley. When on a barge one must remember the journey is as important as the destination. If you ask me it’s more important. Therefore, we made a number of stops on our way up this beautiful lush valley. Every stop was a sleepy little village right out of a Rick Steves’ travel guide. In fact, we were told that when Mr. Steves is in France he typically rents a house in the village of Abbaye de la Bussiere, which happens to be one of our favorite stops on the Burgundy Canal. There are a couple of things that make Abbaye de la Bussiere special. One is the boulangerie. It is an artisanal boulangerie, which means everything is made on site. These days most boulangeries buy dough from a factory. It is pre-rolled into the shape of a baguette, and delivered to the boulanger at 4:00 AM. All he has to do is bake the bread so it is ready for the morning crowd. In our opinion La Bussiere’s boulangerieis on of the best we’ve found.

The other reason we like the village so much is The Abbaye de la Bussierie. It is just a few blocks from where we moor. A Brit bought the old abbey and spent a ton of money to fix it up. It is now one of the prettiest hotels we have ever been to with its stained glass windows, sweeping arched ceilings, beautiful sculptures, and lush green gardens. There is even a small lake for rowing. They also have a Michelin starred restaurant. I remember the first time we ate there. The waiter asked us how the meal was. I told him I didn’t care if they served McDonald’s hamburgers the place was so beautiful I would still love it.

The dinning patio at The Abbaye de la Bussierie.

Dinning with our new friends Michael and Carol at the Abbaye de la Bussiere.

The beautiful lawn at the Abbey.

Who said they are just asparagus?

You have to love this cheese platter.

We had dinner at the Abbey twice, once with our friends Alain and Sandy at their café on the patio, and once with our new friends Michael and Carol in their fine dinning restaurant. Their restaurant was noticeably better, but also noticeably more expensive.

Our next stop was Pont d’Ouche, where we visited with our old friend Sonia. Sonia owns the local marina, and has turned it into a going enterprise. She has added a restaurant with live entertainment on the weekends. The place tends to get very busy, and loud. We don’t fit in the little marina, so we tied up on the opposite side of the canal where it was a bit quieter. The night we were there a lightning and thunderstorm blew through. When I say blew I mean it really blew hard. Some large branches from a tree next to the canal fell just behind where we were moored. Had they hit Rabelo they would have done some serious damage. There are plenty of hazards operating a vessel like Rabelo on a small canal. I’ll have to add falling trees to the list.

Fallen tree limbs after last nights storm.

This lock keeper has a farm next to the lock he operates. He was out of fresh eggs, but we did pick some lettuce.

Lisa’s garden is coming along.

Arriving at Vandenness with Chateauneuf in the background.

Chateauneuf above Rabelo’s pilothouse.

– 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.