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The Doubs

Posted by nigelorrmail on August 8, 2013 at 10:40 AM

The Doubs

 

    The River Doubs is a tributary of the Saone. The confluence is at Verdun sur Doubs. The canal that links the river Saone with the Rhine at Niffer follows the line of the river Doubs and for a while the navigation itself is on the river. Just when you become blase about all these beautiful French canals you some across another that blows your socks off. Today we have done the downstream run on the doubs from Beaume les Dames to Besancon and it was one of those really magical trips . We had moored overnight at Beaume by the Service de Navigation on a very narrow and shallow derivation when within minutes a fully loaded dutch peniche comes round the bend . We were moored about six feet off the bank and well and truly on the bottom . He ended up having to give us a little nudge with me putting down a tyre between us . The guide had indicated this as the only mooring and we were getting low on water and this was the nearest water point. The Doubs is not well equipped for pleasure boats and in addition the Guide Vagnon guide is both lacking information and in some cases plain wrong. The mooring also doubles as a camper van stop and the facilities are shared by both vans and boats .

   The next morning I got up at 07:30 at my dog, Baron’s request because he needed a pee. This was quite tricky with the mooring ladder at full stretch and the plank over it leaving a significant gap over which we both had to jump . Baron prowled round the campers sniffing where a cat had been but it was still tucked up in it’s bed, which is where I wanted to be .The day looked as though it would turn out nice and the deeply wooded valley in which we were moored was still in shade but the sun was lighting the slopes opposite. Once safely back on board the crew were served tea in bed and Baron and I watched five cows walking by the towpath opposite. As the leader passed a sign for boaters to hoot there horns she turned to her compatriots and mooed loudly ! We were  soon on our way. The first lock was automated and we approached it very quietly.The filling of the lock and the opening of the gates brought a rather bleary eyed camper out of his lock side tent. I think he thought it must be the spirit of an old lock keeper who was operating it. He was glad to see a human and was very happy to hear the explanation of locks operated by “telecommande" . We dropped down into the river and as we headed towards the channel a kingfisher came up the river on our side making it’s distinct call and caught a fish right alongside the boat , did an 180 degree turn and flew off . The cliffs and wooded hills were all around us as we meandered through this peaceful valley until we were disturbed momentarily by the “St Dizier cowboys” . These are the French fighter pilots who seem to fly very low in the prettier parts of France. One big base is at St Dizier another in this region is at Dijon. Anyway we have named them the St Diz cowboys. No sooner were they there than they were gone and we were left to our tranquility Mary appeared in the galley with offers of bacon sandwiches ( smuggled in from England ) and fresh coffee and the aromas were soon wafting round the boat . The scenery was breathtaking as we ran down through Esnans , Fourbanne and Ougney les Champs , Duvot and Lassey . All the locks are operated using a TV zapper gadget except for a double lock at Deluz which we got to at 12:30 . Baron by this stage had given up on any relief and had peed on the deck. It is awkward for big dogs on this stretch as during the summer with the river levels down you are low in the lock even when it is full so getting him on and off is a problem. We anchored off the channel in the river for lunch and a much relieved and fed Baron went to sleep under the awning. A couple of boats coming upstream stopped behind us thinking we were waiting to go into the lock so we waved them through.  The afternoon run was a little speedier as we had come down from Beaume with the engine idling all the way it was so beautiful .

   As we approached Besancon we ran in amongst the local rowing club and two girls took great delight in giving us a head start at the lock then came zooming past us . At the turn into the citadel tunnel we waited for a trip boat to pass by then went through and moored the other side on the pontoon on Quai Tarragnoz . We have been joined by a luxemotor “Rovi” with a Guernsey flag on her . Today has been one of the best . We have done the Midi and the Ouche valley on the canal de Bourgogne as well as the Nivernais and, earlier this year the Zorn valley above Strasbourg but the run from Beaume les Dames to Deluz for sheer natural beauty beats them all

 

 

Categories: Travel stories

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