Cruising in France – Index

The Start of the Journey:

This is where it all began;  early one Monday morning in April 2008 we drove to Kings Marina in Newark to sail Desormais through one lock round to Newark Marina, where she was due to be lifted out of the water, and onto the back of a lorry to start her journey to France.  The wheelhouse had to be dismantled and stored inside the boat for the journey, and neither of us had attempted to do this before.  The lorry was due to arrive at noon, but of course, it arrived early and the dismantling of the wheelhouse was eventually successfully completed, albeit in panic mode.   The boat looked strange and vulnerable without the wheelhouse, but soon she was hoisted onto the trailer and the lengthy process of rigging and securing her began, taking several hours before it was completed to the satisfaction of the lorry driver and the accompanying  ‘convoi exceptionel’ driver.  It would be Wednesday lunchtime before we would see her again as she arrived at the boatyard at Migennes, northwest of Dijon.

When we arrived at Migennes, the river Yonne was running high and fast.  Joe Parfitt, the boatyard owner was non-committal about whether he would be able to drop her into the water, and it might be that she had to be off-loaded onto chocks to await the right time.  This would incur double craneage charges no doubt.

We hung around the boatyard most of the morning and then suddenly we saw the transporter with Desormais riding high and proud, trying to negotiate the entrance into the boatyard.  For some reason I found this quite an emotional moment, rather like the re-appearance of a long-lost daughter.   We had to climb up onto the trailer to re-erect the wheelhouse, (not something I’d like to have to do again) and by late afternoon we were ready to lift her into the water.

The guys at the boatyard had to move a number of breasted-up boats so that Desormais could go into the water right next to the quay, and this was where the fast-flowing Yonne might have presented a risk.  But they knew what they were doing, and eventually, a space was made and lengthy preparations undertaken to make sure Desormais was securely balanced on the crane chains.

Watching her swing out across the quayside was yet another heart-stopping moment but within half an hour, Desormais was safely on the water, none the worse for her adventure.  Grateful thanks to CPL (the transporter company) and Joe Parfitt for their expertise.

We spent the night on board before recommencing our journey back down to Spain, where the completion of the sale of our villa was imminent.

On our return, a month or so later, we began the first stage of our journey.  We were both a little apprehensive, our boating experience having been limited to five or six years narrowboating on the UK canals, and a few weeks trying out Desormais on the canals and rivers around Brighouse.  We had a lot to learn about the French waterways, and about barging in general.  And even now, several years later, we are still learning….

To read a particular stage, follow the links below, or to read the whole, click on the Categories side bar.  The site is under construction and will be updated as time permits.

Desormais – Facts and Photos

Canal du Loing via the Yonne and Seine  (May 2008):

Canal du Loing:  Moiret-sur-Loing to Cepoy (June 2008):

Cepoy to Canal du Briare – Canal Lateral à Loire (June 2008):

Lateral à Loire: Ménétreol to Fleury-s-Loire (June 2008):

Fleury-s-Loire to Digoin, then Canal du Centre for Paray-le-Monial (June 2008)

Génélard (Canal du Centre) via the Saone to St Jean-de-Losne (June 2008)

St Jean-de-Losne to Baume-les-Dames via Canal du Rhône au Rhine/River Doubs, and to Auxonne via the Saone (July/August 2008)

The Saone, Rhone and onto the Canal du Midi (September/October 2008)

Canal du Midi:  Capestang to Carcassonne (October 2008)

Carcassonne-Narbonne-Carcassonne (April/May 2009)

Carcassonne to Toulouse (June 2009)

Canal Lateral a Garonne, Toulouse to Meilhan (June/July 2009)

Canal Garonne, Canal de Montech to Montauban (Autumn 2009)

Canal du Midi, Canal Lateral a la Garonne (May/June 2010)

Canal Garonne, Canal du Midi (Autumn 2010)

Spring Cruise 1 – Castelnaudary to Capestang, (April 2011)

Spring Cruise 2 – Castelnaudary to Moissac and return, (April/May 2011)

Autumn Cruise 1 – Castelnaudary to Grau d’Agde (August 2011)

A Week Out of the Water at Grau d’Agde (September 2011)

Crossing L’Etang du Thau and navigating the Rhone to Lyon (September 2011)

Lyon to Pont de Vaux via the Saone (October 2011)

Visit to Pont de Vaux, (March 2012)

Grounded on the Saone, (April 2012)

Canal du Centre, Chalon s/Saone to Digoin (May 2012)

Canal Lateral a la Loire:  Digoin to Briare (June 2012)

Canal Lateral a la Loire: Briare to Digoin (July 2012)

Canal du Centre:  Digoin to Pont de Vaux (July 2012)

Mini Trip to Lyon, (September 2012)

Rain, rain and more rain.  Canal de Boulogne/Saone, (May 2013)

The Canal de Bourgogne Revisited (Autumn 2013)

The Canal du Nivernais, May 2014

Auxerre, Canal de Bourgogne, Saone to Pont de Vaux

For the Love of Boats, July 2014

Messing About on the River, July 2014

A Quick Trip South, September 2014

Water, water everywhere ….  May 2015

Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne, May 2015

Canal Rhone au Rhin (Ouest) May 2015

Canal des Vosges, May/June 2015

La Petite Saone, (June 2015)

Taking Leave of the French (July 2017)

Desormais – The Swan Song, June 2018

11 Responses to Cruising in France – Index

  1. Mélanie says:

    Hi-bonjour from Toulouse! I do hope you’ve liked Canal du Midi… 🙂 My very best and friendly greetings, Mélanie


    • Sandra says:

      We loved the Midi Melanie, and will be back some time in the future. For the moment, we’re around the Macon area, exporing the upper reaches of the Saone next season. Thanks for visiting.


  2. M. R. says:

    I am SO consumed with jealous rage that I can hardly SPEAK!
    Sighh …
    Stringer’s and my problem was that we spent all our money on travelling, and never had any to spare for putting into something that would … ahhh … multiply it. 😀


  3. Sandra says:

    Believe me, a boat is simply a large hole in the water, lined with steel, into which you pour all your money. Nothing multiplies except the joy and the problems… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. aj vosse says:

    I must read all of this for it is my dream too!! 😉


  5. maristravels says:

    I envy you cruising the French waterways for 5 months of the year, sounds sheer bliss. I’ve cruised what I can but on short 2-weely trips, but enjoyed them all tremendously. Can’t handle the work myself now so have to limit them to river cruises but try and find ones with as few people as possible, last one only had me and two others. That was great.


    • Sandra says:

      I think I’d find it hard to be confined with a lot of people when cruising. I’ve noticed on the rare occasions when we have someone else on board, my attention is distracted from the scenery and the water, and even occasionally navigation. 😦 We can see a time when we won’t be able to do this, so we’re making the most of the opportunities we have. Enjoy your cruising Mari!


  6. paulamimi says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for your blog. It is so useful for us boaters in France. We have just been craned in from Britain at Migennes and aim to cruise the Nivernais. We were looking for a boatyard that would haul us out around Decize area to be blacked in the future and thought wewe’d sussed it by seeing your out of water blog but quite soon realised that it was in the South.
    Thanks once again for all your useful info.


    • Sandra says:

      Hi, many thanks for letting me know that. I appreciate it. When we first started boating, I used to wish I could pick someone’s brains about the route ahead of us – and that was what made me start thinking about doing a blog. I’m sure you’ll find the Nivernais delightful; I think we were there at a bad time in the labour relations scene and we had some less than positive experiences with the lockies, but others I have met speak very highly about the service they received. You can get lifted for blacking at Blanquarts (St Jean de Losne), but if you opted to go down south we can’t speak too highly of Allemand at Grau d’Agde. Enjoy your summer! 🙂 There’s so much fun ahead of you.


  7. cyclering says:

    Wow! Your travel posts have such vivid details. I feel like I’m traveling along. I am so glad you visited my site and liked one of my posts. This weekend I launched a challenge called TRAVEL BLESSINGS . . . Join the fun by posting at


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