Château de Digoine - ecluse No.19

22/8/2013 - 23/8/2013

A Trivia question: Can one get lost on the canal? - Answer: Yes, we can!


Cruising down the Canal du Centre we intended to stop off and visit the "Château de Digoine". "Not another château!", I hear you say. But this one we didn't want to miss. The good thing about the Canal du Centre is that it is fitted with radio controlled automatic locks, so once you have informed the lock-keeper of your starting time at the first lock, the other locks are prepared on your arrival. All you have to do is drive in, tie up and pull the right cord to set the filling/emptying of the lock in motion.

Unfortunately we missed the mooring area close to the castle and went through the next lock, before realising our mistake.


Luckily the lock-keeper in charge drove past and seeing us turning around, reversed the previous lock. It was easy to interpret his French facials:"Stupid Australians!" Soon after, the well known boat of a New Zealand couple, who we met again at Paray , cruises towards us. "Are you lost?" the called out. - Very embarrassing!

We finally found the mooring just in front of ecluse No. 19 and decided, we had to make our odyssey worthwhile.

Seeing a lovely looking restaurant opposite the lock called L'Auberge de Digoine, we decided to check it out.

The lunch menu of the day included: a buffet entrée consisting of a salad bar with prawns, smoked salmon, ham and a huge variety of salads, followed by chicken in a beautiful herb sauce with chips and veggies, a glass of wine and a choice of 6 different desserts - all for the price of 12 euros!


We comforted our bad conscience of having indulged once again with the 1 km uphill walk to the castle.

Arriving at the gate, we learned that the guided tour, we weren't aware of, had started.  As it is the only way to see the inside of the château, we rushed to join up with the group and were rewarded with an assortment of grand, exquisite, beautiful and odd collections of artwork, furnishings and decor. There even was a tree-like structure with stuffed Australian birds, which we took objection to. The great hall contains many plaster copies of sculptures which can be found today at the Louvre. Most impressive is the private "Italian Theatre" in one of the out-houses. The interior decoration is said to have been created by Ciceri who also decorated the "Opéra de Paris". The ceiling of the miniature theatre features a canvass illustrated with musical instruments. 


Guests in this particular theatre were Sarah Bernhardht and Jacques Offenbach who, not yet famous, composed one of his pieces here.

The castle is surrounded by a 75 acres of landscaped park, including a lake, small river, floral garden and greenhouse.

In the evening we arrived at Génelard which has nice and quiet moorings with an adjoining green area for camper vans.

There we re-met a couple who had called out:"Aussie, Ausie Aussie!" and "Hello, Australia" when passing us on their cycles earlier on.

They turned out to be 2 Germans living in Sydney's Eastern suburbs and sporting the same accent like I.

Still, I put my foot in, when asked how we came to cruising the canals. Telling them that a friend had said 'we would be crazy travelling in Europe by Camper Van' with all the traffic a.s.o., I realised too late that they were standing in front of a camper which was obviously their own. Luckily, they had a good sense of humour and didn't take offence.

We exchanged our experiences of France and memories of Munich.


Today we had a look at the other side of the port. Both sides have electricity and water at no charge. A modern building which caught our eye turned out to be a museum of the second world war called "Demarkation Line". Right at the entrance a big sign warns in German language: "Stop! Do not cross this line or you will be shot!!!"  We had a look at books and DVDs about the war and the French resistance in the foyer, but didn't dare go inside the museum.

Today is meant to be the last nice day before a cooler change with some rain.

Tomorrow we move on to Montceau-les-Mines to catch up with the New Zealanders for a Birthday celebration.


© Austin Robinson 2019