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.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two days of life in France.

Ancient cross hidden in a hedgerow next to the road where we were biking.

The gate to the chateau in the following picture

Of course - Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party".

A rare picture of the two of us - taken courtesy of Olivier.

"Monsieur Renoir" getting ready for the grand luncheon.

A photo of the back of our barge this summer. The flowers were trailing in the water and the Rooster has been repainted and is crowing.

We have just had two great days - riding our bikes and visiting with friends. We have been lucky enough to ride our bikes each day we have been in St. Leger sur Dheune - now going onto our 4th week being moored in the Port. Fortunately we have a great friend in Philippe who is the captain du port and he has not only not thrown us out but has taken us on a "field trip" to Savigny les Beaune with his "amazing" wife Michelle. Another story for another time. We have ridden just about all of the Cote d'Or/Bourgogne and have discovered many wonderful, secret places. Our biking is really just a version of "slow biking" perhaps doing 20 - 60K per day. This has also been a good summer to go very slowly with our barge. We are loving the connection with the country and the people that we miss when we move more frequently.

Yesterday we decided to leave for a ride after lunch - we were in search of sand paper so that Eric could continue his painting career. We needed to ride 15k on the path along the canal to Chagny to get to a Brico ( equivalent to a Home Depot). We decided that on the way home we would go a different way through a lovely small valley called the Chassey valley. This valley has about 3 tiny tiny villages in it and stretches for only about 10k or so. It has white cliffs on one side and vineyards on the other. The first village is Remigny which is an old 15th -17th century village with lovely old homes. Afterward we came to the village of Chassey le Camp. We turned in here - lucky for us as we found a farm with vegetables and fruit for sale. We stopped and the farmer who was engaging and great fun picked lettuce for us and tomatoes as well as zuchini and eggplant. We resisted the potatoes, leeks and carrots until next time. We can order raspberries and strawberries but we will need to call the farmer the day before we want them as he picks them fresh. After we filled our bike paniers we continued onto where there is a large Auberge ( the auberge was actually bigger than the whole village) and a road sign to a neolithic site in the next very small tiny village. We decided to lock up our bikes and hike to the top of the mountain behind the village where there is indeed an archeological site where people lived dating back to 1000 years BC. Amazing amazing amazing.

As we rode on we passed up several wineries - one in particular which was a large chateau and looked really interesting. We went on to Chamilly and there was a sign directing us toward a place called Amarantha where they make bread. Amarantha was hidden behind another old building and we could see inside that it had an old wood burning oven in which they cook the bread. As this was Monday they were closed and they would be open on Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00pm to 7:00pm - as the only time they sell their bread. An interesting change in France from the normal Boulangerie where they start selling bread at 6:30 am. We will have to return to taste this bread which has to be wonderful. A true artisanal bread. We then rode up to the ridge which was about 2k where we discovered a very old cross hidden in the hedge row.
The ride down the other side to the canal was spectacular and we returned home to our barge in St. Leger.

Tuesday was another unusual and special day in France. We are lucky enough to have some great friends Mary and Jim who have arrived in St Leger with their barge this week. They have a number of visiting guests during the summer and Tuesday the guests were Olivier and Veronique and their two children from Villerest which is a village near our home port of Roanne. At about 11:00am we went, altogether, to a wine tasting in Mercurey. This was a special place - okay so all the wineries are special in this region. The wine was great and although we bought a few bottles we think the Olivier and Veronique bought several hundred for their restaurant Chateau Champlong. We then returned to Mary and Jim's boat - Festina Tarde - for lunch prepared by Jim and Olivier. What fun and delightful. It was truly reminiscent of Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party". Starting with Champagne and foie gras. The foie gras was home made by the Olivier and served spread on bread with ground course salt on top. The main course was Cote de Boeuf ( prime rib cut of Charolais beef ) cooked on the barbeque and served with girolle mushrooms. We all decided to skip the cheese course in favor of vanilla ice cream with fresh blueberries (delicious). There was a beautiful magnum bottle of red wine that was rich and smooth. All followed by naps as by this time it was 5:00pm. The French seem to do this quite often and it is amazing that they are not all dead by 30 years old. So wonderful and so much cholesterol- so it must be the red wine???????
We have had many magical days like these - we are so lucky.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Swans swans swans......

We seem to see a lot of swans mostly on the rivers . They are such beautiful birds with an elegant shape and gracefullness. Their feathers form a thick an beautiful protection from the water. As you can see by their necks they spend a great deal of time with their heads underwater feeding. This action unfortunately discolors their feathers.

The swans are aggressive birds and often demanding. They know what a boat/barge is and will come up to our boat "begging" for food handouts - then start hissing and pecking toward us if we move toward them. Tulah in her inimitable style will bark endlessly at them and is furious when we feed them and not her. They then start hissing at her which only makes her more furious so we all retreat and call a halt to the proceedings for the time being.

Swans make the most wonderful sound when they are airborne. They seem to only fly a few feet off the water but the "swish" sound of their huge wings is unique to them and you can tell by the sound when a swan has taken flight. We were in a mooring in Verdun sur Doubs and heard them flying at night. Not sure what that was about and it seemed so very unusual.

Enjoy the photos.