The journey continues a pace now, and with less than 150km to go to our winter destination we have left the Canal des Vosges which has taken us from Toul to Corre, and moved seamlessly onto the Petit Soane in the beautiful region of Franche-Comte, which will take us to the doorstep of St Jean de Losne.
The difference between a canal (the Vosges) and river (Petit Soane) is traditionally that the canal is artificial, it is engineered rather than a natural watercourse, however this difference has been difficult to spot here in France with some rivers having shuttered sides and some canals lapping onto meadows and fields. I suppose what we have noticed is that on the 122km of the Canal des Vosges we have passed through 93 locks. On the 139km of the Petit Soane we will have to negotiate just 19 locks. Here, at least for us is the quintessential difference between a river and a canal.
No matter how the cartographers, geographers, and riparian owners wish to label the stretch of waterway, they all have something in common – beauty.
Our last week or so has been on mainly rural stretches of water, as mentioned – with plenty of locks, so progress has been more pedestrian than normal. We generally average around 12 miles (18km) per day at around 5mph (8kmph) however with days where we have done 15 or 16 locks our pace has slowed considerably – a couple of days we only managed 4 or 5 miles in 5 or 6 hours! We get into a routine in the locks, with Nicola holding us against the lock bollard as we rise and fall, and me piloting the boat between the ecluse (lock)(showing off my French – sorry).
Our progress has been steady though, and as we sat last night and marked on a map our passage, we were amazed, pleased and proud of what we have done.
Every day we wake up to a different landscape, except when we moor for a few nights – when we see the local changes of weather, farmers work schedules and the amazing wildlife, or manage to find a little time for some painting.
And, luckily for you dear reader, there never seems to be a shortage of photo opportunities.
And finally, we left a couple of our ‘Anticus’ business cards in a couple of locks – a little like throwing a message-in-a-bottle into the ocean – imagine our delights when our newest followers, Ben Sanders and Ele Klein, contacted us to say they had found one of them. Brilliant! Something we will surely repeat.
Ta-ta for now folks!