Birds are still singing as I write this. It’s 9 PM and I am moored at Chatillon sur Loire. We stowed our gear, checked the boat out, and went to town to buy provisions. On a boat you don’t have groceries. You have provisions.
Oh, what provisions though. Baguettes and pastries from the local bakery. Local chèvre rolled in ash, duck pate, local cream, a nice pink Grenache, imported Brazilian coffee, and well…absolutely nothing practical. The grocery store in Chatillon is half 7-11 and half well-stocked deli. We are provisioned.
For lunch we walked to a restaurant in an old lock keeper’s house. A simple yet delicious meal was highlighted by a wedding photo shoot, and a cat that decided to climb up on Donna’s lap for a cuddle.
There was a town party in Briare, the next town up river. We opted for more puttering and naps. We found the corkscrew, and the single roll of toilet paper on the boat. We made a less romantic shopping list: toilet paper, paper towels, foil, ziplock bags, garbage bags, olive oil, eggs, more wine, more water.
In the morning we’ll fine tune the bike storage, unplug the shore power and do a shake down cruise to Briare and the Sunday market. The slow down effect is already in motion. Quiet conversations in French coming from the boats moored around us, and all those birds still singing.
The shakedown cruise to Briare was mostly uneventful. The boat survived. One bumper didn’t. The Cirrus B proved to be lively at the helm. Breezes, current, and inattention made gentle corrections necessary. I spent a lot of time over steering and over correcting. Finding the sweet spot to keep her on track wasn’t easy. It wasn’t impossible though. The more power you applied the easier it got.
Coming into Briare you have to cross an elevated canal designed by Eiffel. Crossing it was a transcendent feeling, absolutely beautiful. I laughed aloud and exclaimed, “This may be the coolest thing I’ve ever done!” This is a narrow canal, very narrow. We caught a breeze at the half-way point. “Bam!!!” I scraped the side of the canal. A line parted and we were trailing a bumper. “Don’t over correct!” The rest of the way through the canal I didn’t let my attention stray.
Docking in Briare was uneventful. We did manage to get a bumper line caught on a cleat, but I backed off with no damage. Once docked I used a found piece of nylon rope, a corkscrew, and a knife to put the slightly shredded bumper back into place.
Then we walked into Briare. Church bells welcomed us. Once in town a pipe organ and horns lured us into the church. Donna lit a candle for her stepsister, Karla, whose illness had returned. Then we explored. What appeared to be a recording in an empty church turned out to be a rehearsal. A pipe organ, a trumpet, and a soprano were working out a difficult, but beautiful passage.
In town the Sunday market was in full swing. We bought an eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, a cucumber, and a bouquet of white and pink radishes. Then we bought two ham and cheese baguettes. The sample sealed the deal. The baguette I ate by myself wasn’t even a guilty pleasure. I could have eaten ten of them. Delicious!
We got all of the practical provisions, bought an ice cream cone and headed back to the boat. Of course a return trip was necessary. We forgot the olive oil and decided the butcher’s shop and cheese vendor needed a visit. We bought the sausage of the house, and fresh chèvre.
Briare is on the Loire and is full of canal boats, caravan campers, bicyclists, and beautiful houses for sale. 480,000 euros will get you a mini-castle on the outskirts of town. 75,000 euros will get you two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a detached garage in town. It was worth fantasizing about.
It was the beginning of the tourist season in Briare and there was anticipation in the air. After the town party the night before a few hangovers were in evidence. These were being nursed with coffee, croissants, sunshine, and courageous smiles. Winter could turn Briare into a sleepy lonely little village, but it’s attractions were currently on full display. We took our time wandering back to Le Boat for an afternoon snack, a bottle of Cabernet D’Anjou, and some quiet time just watching life unfold from the deck.