Week 201: Around Burgundy, then Athens

A quick trip into Burgundy, France to check out some barges and then we're off, back to Athens again.

Week 201: Around Burgundy, then Athens
A hotel barge in Burgundy on the central canal

On Sunday morning, we dropped Mum and Dad at Barcelona airport, where they headed off to Amsterdam, and Karina and I boarded a flight to Lyon, France. From there, we rented a car and drove up to Chalon-Sur-Saône. But, you might ask, wasn't the plan to return home to Greece?

Well, it was, but as you're aware, if you've been following along, we're in the market for a barge, and we decided to look at two in that region while we were on this side of Europe.

While we've been to France a few times, we've never been to the Burgundy region. It's spectacular! Covered in rolling hills, vineyards, villages and canals, it's a spectacular place to visit.

There are quirks in France that we weren't familiar with–like that EVERYTHING is closed on Sunday afternoon. We struggled to find anywhere to buy milk when we arrived at our lovely Airbnb in the city centre. No matter. We ate out for breakfast the next day instead.

Walking around the old Medieval City centre on the banks of the river Saône was enjoyable, as was watching the occasional commercial barge come by. Eventually, we ended up in the main square and found a place open for dinner. We had a drink and enjoyed the atmosphere. After three years of French on DuoLingo plus a year of lessons for me and Karina's four years of immersion classes in high school, we both speak enough French to get by and even hold some stilted conversations. It was fun to immerse ourselves in it all.

It's fun to go places with no agenda and just discover. Karina selected this city because it had good-value Airbnbs and was midway between the two barges we wanted to visit. It turned out to be delightful. It's also the birthplace of photography!

Monday, we decided to explore the region a little, intending to find canals and barges. This region is quite active with hotel barges, so we wanted to watch and observe as many as possible.

We drove up to the town of Chagny along the Canal-Central and stopped off a few times, where we saw hotel barges making their way or locks operating to get a feel for it all. It was very picturesque. The towns are cute, and each one has huge churches, along with the occasional nunnery or monastery to boot.

On Tuesday, we headed to the first barge we had arranged to visit, stopping off at Paray-Le-Monial. We'd tried to visit Le Creusot, mistakenly thinking it was related to Le Creuset, only to find a very boring industrial city that left us with a strong impression of the strength of France's industry but also the understanding that not EVERY French town is beautiful. Fortunately, Paray-Le-Monial did not disappoint. We did a quick stretch there, enough to know we wanted to return and headed out to the barge in the small region of Luneau. After visiting the barge, it was back to Paray-Le-Monial and off home to the Airbnb. A very satisfying day.

Wednesday, it was time to go north and deeper into Burgundy. The countryside and the drive got even more spectacular! We cruised alongside small rivers, over ancient bridges and grand chateaus, and saw even more barges before finally returning home to the Airbnb.

Then, on Thursday, we were back in travel mode. We drove south to Macon and stopped there for a break. Unlike further north, it wasn't much to rave about, although the city is getting all excited as it's a stop off for the Tour De France, which starts shortly.

From there, it was south to Lyon, where we got frustrated trying to find where to return the rental car. We had been taken by shuttle, but there was no obvious address on the paperwork, and the one address we did find was for a different location than where we had collected the vehicle! For a while, we thought we might be late to the airport, but eventually, the car did get returned, the shuttle arrived, and we were at the airport with time to spare. We took a direct hop from Lyon to Athens, and we are back in Greece, almost two months since we left!

The tourist season is now in full swing. The flights from Athens to Mytiline are filling up (or full), and we couldn't get one at a reasonable time, so as our apartment was free for a couple of days, we grabbed it and enjoyed a brief stay in Athens. Sunday, it's off to the airport and back to Mytiline and Matilda!

We've got a lot going on in the next week to keep us busy, although I doubt much of it will be scenic, so enjoy the photos while you can. It's back to our regular agenda of Matilda shots in the marina while we wait to get our battery repairs completed so we can start our cruising season properly.

Until next time,

Tim & Karina