In the town of St Jean de Losne, at Port Blanquart, these baby swans were not the only new arrivals…Here we welcomed Bruce and Kathy aboard Detour; their very first visit since that fateful day nearly one year ago when we all first spotted this magnificent sailing yacht and decided to make her our own. Bruce and Kathy had flown into Paris and had driven a rental car to St. Jean de Losne. They arrived in the evening and we began our vacation with a delectable French meal at a riverfront restaurant. Then, Bruce and Kathy settled comfortably into the forward cabin for a peaceful night’s sleep. The next morning, everyone was bright eyed and ready for exploration! Brian and Bruce returned the rental car, followed by a 10-mile bicycle ride back to Detour. Kathy and I leisurely strolled the streets of St Jean de Losne. The sun was shining when we all reunited aboard, cast off the docklines, and set out onto the Petite Saone. (With a quick pit-stop to refuel Detour as St Jean de Losne could very well be the last opportunity for a fuel dock for quite a while.) Our first destination was Auxonne; from St Jean de Losne the trip was 11nm and one lock. The locks on the Petite Saone are automated, they are also significantly narrower than the locks of the Rhone and the Saone. In order to activate the lock, a passing boat must grab and twist (counterclockwise) a pole that is hanging via a cable strung across the river. In actuality, the pole is really a piece of long, flexible tubing that dangles over the river. Once the pole is twisted, the lock prepares for the boat to enter as indicated by traffic lights (red = stop, red/green = stop but prepare to proceed, green = enter). The pole is quite easy to grab and twist. We were able to experience our very first automated lock with Bruce and Kathy. Auxonne’s Tourist Office provided us with an informational pamphlet for a walking tour of the town (narrated by yours truly, street navigation provided by Bruce and Brian, photography by Kathy). Auxonne became a fortified town during the 1600’s, containing an Artillery Arsenal and Artillery School. It’s most notable bit of history is Napoleon Bonaparte’s attendance at the Artillery School.
Half-timbered houses remain throughout the town, and off the beaten path (actually through an un-inviting doorway into an apartment building, nonetheless listed on the walking tour) we climbed a 15th century stair turret. Of course, no French town would be complete without a chateau; the Rue du Chateau built in 1479 by King Louis XI. Not too shabby for a first stop along the Petite Saone! We ended the day with an aperitif (light snack and wine), as we kicked back in Detour‘s cockpit with never-ending conversation.