Burgundy & the Petite Saone

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Dole to Port-sur-Saone (Cruise runs Saturday to Friday)

Highlights: The waterways capital of France - Petite Saone River - St. Albin and Savoyeux Tunnels - The lovely City of Dole

Ray sur SaoneThe town of GrayYou'll join Barge Nilaya in Dole on Saturday afternoon. This thriving and attractive city was home to Louis Pasteur and is a bustling place with narrow streets, good shopping, great eateries and outdoor cafes. There is plenty to see and do and we'll be moored in either its harbour or just outside under an avenue of plane trees. This lovely shady spot will be a blessing, particularly if the weather's hot. Dining out is a great choice tonight and a restaurant I've heard glowing reports about is 'Les Templiers'. They apparently serve good hearty fare in the atmospheric setting of a 13th Century crypt. Just watch out for bones! Alternatively, Dole's Pizza boat is moored in the harbour and if excellent pizza from a wood fired oven takes your fancy, we could pick up a couple and bring them back to the barge.

On Sunday we leave Dole along the 'Canal du Rhone au Rhin' toward today's destination, the self proclaimed waterways capital of France, St-Jean-de-Losne. Lying near the junction of no less than six major French navigations, its a pleasant enough place with a very 'boaty' feel, lovely town quay, marina and boatyards. Having enjoyed a cold beer or two in the quayside bar, I'll cook your 'welcome aboard dinner' which due to our being in Burgundy, might appropriately be a delightful, slow cooked Boeuf Bourguignon and dish that previous guests have raved about.

The cathedral in DoleMonday sees us cruise through wonderful pastoral scenery with white Charolais cattle grazing in the fields towards a late afternoon arrival in the town of Auxonne with its ruined riverside turrets and interesting 15th century buildings at its heart. The Notre-Dame church is worth a visit and this is another location where I think you might enjoy a meal out. There are a number of restaurants in Auxonne, but my suggestion is called 'Virion', located 8km out of town. We'll need to check to see if it's open on a Monday. If it is we'll enjoy regional fare at reasonable prices in one of the two homely dining rooms in this friendly village tavern. If it's not open, we'll find somewhere else or self cater aboard.

On Tuesday we encounter the small village of Mantoche which reveals its beautiful riverside chateau as we pass. Gray is the next sizeable town we reach. Steep streets climb from the Saone to its handsome old quarter containing beautiful buildings such as the  Notre Dame Basilica started in the 15th century, tourist office and Hotel de Ville (town hall). It's another chance to dine ashore should you so desire and my recommendation, although not a budget choice, would be for you to take a taxi 6km out of town to the magnificent 18th century and 3 star hotel 'Chateau de Rigny'. It's set in parkland on the banks of a section of river too shallow for Barge Nilaya to navigate and the interior offers all the trappings of the period and would, I'm sure be a Wonderful choice for dinner.

Dole's Pizza BoatOn Wednesday we cruise past the sleepy hamlet of Rupt-sur-Saone with the dungeon tower of its ruined former chateau peering through trees over the village and river across the fields that separate us. I hope to moor in a rural setting near Charentenay or Soing to provide the opportunity for a bit of leg stretching and a cycle ride or walk to the small village of Ray-sur-Saone dominated by its amazing Chateau. Apparently, it dates back to 800 AD and was once one of the biggest fortresses in Franche-Comte. 

A typically Burgundian church towerOn Thursday, Barge Nilaya cruises a particularly lovely section of the Petite Saone bounded by deep woods and pastureland. An unusual feature on a river, we travel through not one but two river tunnels, namely those of St-Albin and Savoyeux and one thing you'll have noticed during the week is the beautiful and typically Burgundian tiled church steeples. Each hamlet or town has its own distinctly different pattern. Some sections of this majestic river have been 'canalised' by short stretches of linking canal to cut corners on particularly wide, shallow or un-navigable bends. Our final mooring in the pleasant and thriving town of Port-sur-Saone where it's definitely worth checking out the 18th Century St. Etienne church. Again I suggest we take the opportunity to dine out at one of the restaurants in town.

You are due to leave Barge Nilaya after breakfast on Friday, but seeing as its the towns market day, why not leave your bags aboard while you explore it, picking them up later in the day. Getting from Port-sur-Saone to Paris by train takes about Five hours and from Paris to Dole around two and a half hours by direct TGV.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Unforeseen circumstances sometimes affect our cruising schedule. These can include, but are not limited to: illness, floods, weather, canal closures, canal maintenance, lack of moorings, bureaucracy, strikes, civil disturbance, acts of god, the engine, and whims and fancies of both skipper, guests and crew. All of these things might cause last minute changes to the above and cruise routes. Although rare, we reserve the right to alter any and all routes accordingly. Flexibility is the name of the game and any such changes cannot be considered grounds for cancellation of the cruise.