Sens to Monterau-fau-Yonne

During the last few days we made up some miles along the Yonne and are now at the junction of Yonne and Seine in Monterau. Jane, we are coming to pick you up!


Leaving Villeneuve and it's 12th century gates, Porte de Joigny and Porte de Sens, remains of the former town wall, we had been warned of the sloping river locks. Most of them have floating pontoons for at least one boat to tie up to. We cruised leisurely with a daring longboat, the Equinox (Angus' boat) and the Freshwater from lock to lock with Chrissie and Richard tying their longboat to the pontoon and then letting us tie up to theirs.

This way we arrived safely at Sens with enough time to stroll around the former capital of Gaule and archbishop seat, which is crowned by the huge Saint Étienne Cathedral. Sat out on the deck until nightfall (about 10pm here) watching the Pont de l'Yonne being lit up.


Got up bright and early for a big day, the 40km to Monterau-fau-Yonne. Travelling again in threes we were soon joined by a beautiful 90 tonnes barge, the Aslaug. This turned out being very lucky for us as at least 4 of the sloping locks were not equipped with pontoons which doesn't present a problem to flat-bottomed barges, but is very difficult to manage in a boat with a keel like ours. So again we tied up one after another to the big barge and had a nice time talking to the Danish couple, Bente and Kurt, who, speaking fluent French, also gave us the heads up about the next lock. 

We passed the Aquaduct of the Vanne, built in 1874, which carries water from the river Vanne near Troyes all the way to Paris,  more than 120,000m3 of water per day.


As most locks close for lunch at 12.30 we made fast along the Deviation Courlon,in a channelled narrow stretch bypassing the winding river for a few miles. 

However, the afternoon didn't pass without excitement.

Still tied up we had our first encounter with the "beasts", huge commercial barges carrying sand, rocks - you name it!

While chewing on our lunch we saw it approach at a slow pace - or so it seemed- until suddenly we were lifted, dropped, shaken & stirred and finally sucked up against the barge with one berthing peg flying out of the ground and we thought we would be fast-tracked to Paris!

A few scrapes (on the boat, that is) and a hasty departure to get out of the narrow channel before the next big monster could get us, we entered the main river again. From now on it was a waiting game for most of the afternoon as other commercial barges made their way down the river having priority at the locks.


The next problem occurred, when entering a lock Angus' accelerator cable snapped. For a moment we thought we had to tow him, but resourcefully he managed to tie a string to it and so we all crawled on at a slow pace, making it to Monterau by about 7pm - totally pooped.

But every cloud has a silver lining; Angus found a good mechanic who just that day had opened up business opposite the marina, and we got a rest day. After sleeping in while passing barges rocked us not always so gently (we were tied up threefold!), we crossed the bridge and made our way to the market buying fresh veggies and eggs. Later we had a bike-ride to the laundromat and a shandy outside a café/bar while waiting for our washing to finish. We can see the Seine ahead and napoleon's statue on the bridge pointing in the direction of Paris (Austin thinks he is pointing to McDonalds - yes, here is one, unfortunately!).

© Austin Robinson 2019