Roanne, France
"Oldtimer," originally a working barge in The Netherlands transporting grain, was built in 1927 and converted to a live aboard barge in the 1990's. The barge is 16 meters and the style of barge is called a Steilsteven. We are the second owners and have owned the ship since October 2005. We are Americans from Colorado who with our Tibetan Terrier "Tulah" now live in France and "Oldtimer" is our home.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sancerre, France

Welcome to the first posting of our adventures with "Oldtimer" blog. Although we
have 3 years of history with the ship and many adventures , we will begin with where we are now. The picture above is on the grounds of Fountainbleau which we were lucky enough to see in September. We moored "Oldtimer" in Moret sur Loing on the Loing Canal. From there it was a quick 40minute bike ride to Fountainbleau. A spectacular place to visit. This summer we began our travels on June 4th when we left our winter port of Roanne. We traveled up the Roanne/Digoin Canal , turned left onto the Loire Lateral Canal , right onto the Loire River to the Nivernais Canal, onto the Yonne River, the Seine River, then left to the Loing Canal, the Briare Canal and back onto the Loire Lateral Canal as we head back to Roanne for the winter. We are now in Sancerre the most beautiful and lovely wine country . The 2008 Vendage (grapes,leaves photo) has begun and the energy and smell of the harvesting of the grapes is quite wonderful. Today we rode about 30km - not far - to a wonderful valley filled with grape vines We went to St. Gemme and Sury en Vaux - quaint, charming and glorious villages right out of a picture book.

Life on "Oldtimer" is pretty calm this year. Our first couple of years on the canals and rivers certainly had moments of panic and anxiety as we learned to manage the barge. This year we even completed several rivers with ease -knock on wood. Rivers can often be more difficult as we have to contend with commercial barges, current, wind, barages(dams) and the few and far between mooring places. The upside of the rivers , particularly the Yonne River, is being able to visit such beautiful places as Auxerre, Joigny, Villeneuve and Sens. All of these places are old, old villages with some great architecture and beautiful churches. For two non religious types we have visited more churches than we can count.


Rather than recount our past 3 years all at once - we thought we would do a piece with each blog . Sometime in 2002 - we think - the mid life crisis hit - "What are you going to do with the rest of your life." Our next door neighbors sold their home and bought a huge mobile home. I said " Eric lets do that , think of the freedom." Eric said " I am not driving on the highways of America with a huge box for a home." About that time there was an article in a magazine about people who live on their boats in the USA. So we spent the next two years going to different harbors and boat shows - Miami, Salomens Island, Puget Sound to look at boats. We were looking for a trawler type of boat , particularly a Defever. In the meantime Eric was working to get the house in order to put on the market. He remodeled bathrooms and other assorted fixes. Then along came my 60th birthday. My kids - bless them- threw a huge suprise birthday party.The following week Eric, Thom(our oldest son) and I left for 10 days on a rental boat on the Canal du Midi in southern France. Well that and another magazine article about people living on boats on the canals of Europe and we were sold. We put the house on the market in June 2004 , it sold in March 2005 and closed in June 2005. We sold all our accumulated junk, put a few things in storage,then traveled to see friends and family by car(Montana, Michigan, Nova Scotia, Maine) and spent the month of September in Charlottesville ,Virginia where Eric's 92 year old (at the time)Mother lives. September 24th we flew to Paris with 6 bags and 2 dogs. We must have been nuts. Do you know that customs did not even look at us? To be continued.........