Barging around in France…the river

Posted: August 1, 2014 in Quotes, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
~Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

I’ve read about people who live, full or part time, on barges (houseboats to some) and travel on the European canals.  It sounds like something that would be wonderful, but with our lack of experience with boats, probably out of reach.  It is, however, on our dream list of things to do some day.  This trip to France gave us that chance to not only spend a short time on a barge, but to meet another online friend and fellow writer and her husband.

We were thrilled when Sandra said she and Neville would be near Dijon while we were in Melisey.  “Near” is in this case a relative term.  They were near compared to Chicago or England, but still about 2 1/2 hours from us.  We thought that trip might be longer when the river was so high that the mooring they’d planned to use was covered, but we set out in the morning with borrowed cell phone in purse (ours wouldn’t work properly in France, no matter what Verizon had told us) so that we could get in touch for the final arrangements.

A call, in Sandra’s lovely English tones, told us the water was down enough, which cut half an hour or so off our trip and we arrived a bit after noon.  The river was in full spate but lovely.

photo 1(101)

photo 2(102)

We spotted their boat and headed down to meet them.

photo 3(79)

The barge seemed amazingly spacious and my organizing heart loved the way every bit space was put to use.  There was room for a master bedroom, a large living room (below) and a compact kitchen below.  Up where we entered was the wheelhouse (if that’s the correct term) and a table with seating around the sides and back.  The center part of the table could be folded down and access gained to the guest room at the stern of the boat with it’s two single beds.  The outside of the barge was quite cheerful, especially with addition of pots of colorful flowers.

photo 4(53)

We had a lovely lunch, accompanied in my case by a bottle of Old Peculiar beer.  Bill had some Speckled Hen.  Of course, a photo was obligatory and since Neville had a timer, we were able to get a picture of all four of us.  Thanks, Sandra, for letting my use your photo.  We are, from left to right:  Neville, Sandra, Janet and Bill.


Then it was out onto the Saône River, a tributary of the better-known Rhone and our chance to barge around a tiny bit of France.  It was quiet and relaxing with plenty time to see the sights as we went slowly past.  The sun was finally out and the day warm but not too hot, perfect weather for relaxing on the river with new friends.

photo 1(102)

Sandra had some dried bread, so when we came across some swans, she tossed some out and they made their stately way over for a snack.

photo 3(80)

Tomorrow:  the canal.  To read more about Sandra’s and Neville’s barging adventures or to read Sandra’s excellent writing, click on the highlighted link.

Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of your old life and into the new!”
~Kenneth Grahame

  1. Sandra says:

    It was our pleasure to entertain you, Janet and Bill. Your photos really brought back the memory of a lovely, leisurely afternoon. You’re welcome any time. 🙂

    • Sandra, we had a wonderful time and it was one of the high points of the trip, which is saying a lot. We hope to visit again some day in the not-too-distant future and perhaps spend a bit more time with the two of you.


  2. M-R says:

    I can barely bring myself to speak to you – jealous rage chokes me … [grin]

  3. Lovely to see you both – and the barge is much wider than I expected! Looks really comfy. Glad you were able to meet up (and like English accents lol). Lovely photos 🙂
    Ron’s back off to France later this month, and no, I’m not in the slightest bit jealous (

    • Good morning, Joanna. That day was one of the best of a wonderful trip and we hope we can repeat it again soon, although no repeat European trips are planned as of yet. The barge was lovely and amazingly spacious, definitely comfy. Sorry you don’t get to go to Franc as well. 😦 But you can read about the second half of the barge trip tomorrow and there will be a few more France posts on the way and then lots on Wyoming. We leave Sunday for the latter.


  4. Oops lost internet as it posted! Comment end was something along the lines of (%$^&£$£!!!!) lol

  5. How lovely on of many levels. 🙂

  6. So great! Loved seeing the photos of the barge interior. And so nice to see the four of you enjoying your time together. I sort of feel like M-R and love that she’s the one who said it!! Looking forward to more.

    • I’m sure you both have had some excellent adventures that would make me jealous, but I’m glad you’re both sharing this one, jealous rage aside. 🙂


  7. Joyce says:

    Wonderful pics. Thanks for sharing them and the info. on what sounds like a great trip. Beautiful boat and exciting I’m sure. I regularly check out Sandra’s pics and posts as well and love the interesting info there, learning about their lives on the river and canals.

  8. Dear Janet,

    Thank you for sharing some of the finer aspects of your visit. Lovely pictures.



  9. Jane Burgess says:

    Lovely article and delightful images. We lived this life for some years and were very pleasantly reminded of how wonderful it was.

    • Since you lived it, I’m glad this brought back good memories and seemed realistic. Thanks for stopping by, Jane, and for taking the time to comment.


  10. So great to of you to share that wonderful meeting. It sounds like you had a most wonderful time…

  11. […] with us as we meet our friends and explore the river on their barge and going through a lock into the small canal on our way back.  No chance of getting seasick and […]

  12. Angeline M says:

    This looks like a fabulous time! How great to meet up with online friends.

  13. […] you’d like to read the original posts about the visit and river trip, you’ll find them here and here and you’ll find a lot more photos of the trip as well. Sandra’s also an […]