The Bourgogne is an ideal place to get around by bike. Quite flat, nice ways ... also along the Canals - not too much traffic. And what traffic there is is very considerate of bikers.
We rented bikes with our boat to be able to make small excursions.
That turned out great.
Also, when we were bored or needed some activity, we could just unload our bikes and drive right next to the Canal up to the next lock - where we would help with the boat. A perfect arrangement.
Parts of the roads next to the canals are real bike lanes.
It is the first time we rented a boat - and it was really hassle-free. For the channels of france you do not need an extra license. They show you how to drive it (and how to get through the locks), when you come to get it on the first day. It is quite easy, too.
Our boat was a corvette - but there are lot's of others to choice from. We wanted one that was spacious, but not too big for us 3 and one that had a wheel on the outside as well as on the inside - so if the weather was good, we could drive from the upper deck.
The boat has a cabin in the back and a slightly smaller one in the front, so Junior had his own room. In the middle is the living space: a bigger room with lost of windows, where you can eat at the table and a small kitchen - complete with fridge, 4 places to cook and an oven.
There are two toilet/shower combinations - one in each cabin.
The toilet is functional - but you have to pump by hand. And ... what was shocking for me - it all goes out right into the channel. So we decided to throw the toilet paper into bins - like in thailand.
About the company where we rented our boat from:
My compliments from them for their professionality. Everything was fine. The boat well tended for and clean. The people friendly and knowledgeable.
One day we had a problem with our motor - it would be on, but we had no more propulsion. I had to phone them and one hour later they sent one to have a look at it - and repair it. It turned out a bigger thing ... it took them 1 day to repair - and they were really at it. Although the motor problem wasn't our fault I feared we would have to pay for it - plus we had lost an whole day (though we enjoyed the weather on the upper deck and made some games). But no, all is set and the also offered us to give the boat back later. Normally we had to give it back until 9 o'clock in the morning, but we could do it later that day ... or even the next day. An offer we took - at least for the later time, not the other day, since we had plans.
Also after that episode they phoned all the lock-keepers ahead to get us through to Auxerre as fast as possible - which they did.
We flew to Paris and checked our car out at the Airport. Since jet-lag had not yet hit, and it was early morning we headed to the bedroom community of Ecouen, only 7 km away and visited the Chateau which contains the National Museum of the Renaissance. Still before lunch we headed South through Brie, stopping at an appealing restaurant en route to a small Inn in the Fontainebleau Forest. After two nights with our recovery in and around Fontainebleau (seeing it and Vaux-le-Vicomte) (See Our Many Tips), we were prepared to see as much of Burgundy as we could before heading back to Paris for a couple of days. We returned thhe car to the underground Parking beneath the Esplanade in front of the Invalides. We first delivered our luggage at our Hotel on the Avenue La Bourdonnais (Hotel of Same name, See our Tip) only a few blocks away. The car trip inside of Paris was direct, on modestly trafficked streets, that any mid-sized city driver could handle.(Be sure your rental company has a return there).
If you are driving (which is the only sensible way to see Burgundy) in the northern part of the Cote d'Or department or in the adjacent part of Yonne, along D905 you will see winding and crossing the road, the Burgundy Canal in the segment from Tonnerre to Montbard and beyond. We stopped at one of the locks bearing the name of the nearby town of Rougemont. The beauty of the area struck us and we immediately started to fantasize a self-drive family vacation on a rented barge on the canal (it can be done). At the time it was not possible to integrate a nucleus of our adult children with boating knowledge and the skills required (too complex positions and children). It turned out that a tag-along car would be needed to visit most adjacent sites and to acquire provisions. On a short segment of the canal, a simpler attack could succeed if the emphasis is on the boat and the canal. We heartily recommend that you read the two Travelogs here under Bourgogne, in the pages of Pedroswift who gives a complete account of what to do and how. It deserves 5* but you cannot vote for Travelogs. While reading his account, I was reminded of an episode in the BBC comedy series "Keeping Up Appearances" wherein Mrs. Bucket committed all the sins of courtesy and operation possible when encountering a lock
It may be the best way to travel in Burgundy. It will take much more time if you want to use public transport. You can also drive on the lesser roads, which goes through the villages.
Please wear seat-belts (passengers in the back included).
Be careful when you approach a round-about, it is rather new in France.
We found road users non-agressive and never ran into any trouble.
Remember that many car-rental offices are closed on Sundays!
Get a good map.
We used the TGV from Dijon to Paris.
It is important to book seats a few days ahead. Tickets and directions to CDG Airport were included.
The train ride is a great experience, it is fast, clean and safe.
If you cycling in Burgundy, dont miss the Voie verte. This is a 117 kilometer cycle route through Burgundy.
Its easy cycling as it largely follows an old railway - so if you need a break from the hills, take the easy way south.
It also takes you through the Bois Clair tunnel, a great shortcut using a train tunnel through the hills. Wonderfully cool and traffic free. It closes in Autumn as the bats hibernate in it.
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