To misquote Helmuth von Moltke, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, in our case the enemy has been the devastating floods which have hit Europe and which we were lucky to have been only slightly inconvenienced by. Our plan was originally a nearly 700 mile cruise from Bruges to Auxerre taking nearly 4 months.
But now we have a new plan!
A plan so cunning that you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox, a fox so cunning he has just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University (Baldrick; Blackadder).
Because of our ten day forced lay-up at the lovely Montherme on the Canal de la Meuse, we have revised our route to Auxerre. Our preferred way of cruising is to chug along at just over walking pace for two or three hours and then moor in time for lunch at a promising little town or village which we hope, like a fine wine, will improve over time. We often just stay a night, but like to visit markets and brocantes (a French flea-market), eat and drink local produce and let Alfie explore the local area. So any schedule we come up with has lee-way to stay a few nights in an improving town. As we have lost a week or so due to floods, and Nicola will be returning to the UK in August to check on the house, we have cut a hundred odd miles off our journey.
North and mid-France have many thousands of miles of navigable rivers and canals and this makes route changes fairly easy with more often than not many different routes to get from A to B.
For those of you who would like to follow us on a map – here is the plan:
From Montherme, we will head south on the Canal de la Meuse; turn west onto the Canal des Ardennes at Port a Bar; south at Berry au Bar onto the Canal de l”Aisle a la Marne; west onto the Marne to Paris; south onto the Seine; onto the Yonne and to Auxerre.
This route has a few things going for it not least appealing is the fact that it goes through the heart of the Champagne region of France, including the capital city of the fizzy stuff – Reims. Now as you all know by now it is unusual to find a picture of Nicola or I without a glass of something or other clasped tightly in our hands, looking like wild horses couldn’t drag the vessel from us. So the thought of spending a lazy few weeks travelling along the valleys from one Champagne house to another is difficult to better (well I suppose a few patisseries could do it for Nicola).
The route being around 370 miles cruising from here and us travelling at around 10-15 miles a day and having to be in Auxerre at the end of September we have plenty of time to eat, drink, (recover), and explore.