Now after 7 years travelling in Courlis we have decided to change our mode of transport and buy a motorhome.

If you would like to follow us on our new adventures in our Motorhome please go to ykgilbertmotorhome.blogspot.com

Courlis’ Trip Back to St Jean De Losne - 1225 kilometes and 256 locks.

To sell Courlis, we decided to take her back to St Jean de Losne in France where we bought her. Kevin threw a rope up in the air and then guessed how far and how long it would take us to get there. I blithely followed along packing a few clothes, pills, etc and so started our nostalgic journey

Where we travelled in Courlis

From 2005 to 2007  and again in 2011 we had had a fabulous time cruising in France up and down thousands of locks.

From 2008 to 2011 we cruised in the Netherlands  passing under thousands of bridges, cruising  big rivers big and small canals.

During 2009 we travelled from the Netherlands to North Germany through the Schwerin Lakes area to Berlin experiencing several amazing mechanical lifts and water bridges.

If you would like to follow us on our new adventures in our Motorhome please go to ykgilbertmotorhome.blogspot.com.


Courlis’ Trip Back to St Jean De Losne -   1225 kilometes and 256 locks.
To sell Courlis, we decided to take her back to St Jean de Losne in France where we bought her. Kevin threw a rope up in the air and then guessed how far and how long it would take us to get there. I blithely followed along packing a few clothes, pills, etc and so started our nostalgic journey

Day 1. Tuesday 14 June 73.7 kilometres Locks = 0 Weather = Showers then fine.

We left from Kuikhorne which is in the far north of Friesland and took the Princes Margriet Canal and on our way we were surprised by two houses floating down the canal. The movers were taking advantage of light breezes.

then across the Tjeukemeer Lake down a small canal towards Ossenzjl and had a lovely evening near Oldemarkt on the canal
Overnight = Oldemarkt on Canal

Day 2. Wednesday 15 June      34.8 kilometres Locks = 1       Weather = Cool and windy
We travelled down through Kalenburg where all the lovely thatched houses are and we caught up with Penny and Russel then across the Beulaker Lake and had an early stop the second night with Edi and Otto our friends from Germany in the canal near Zwartsluis. A great meal of Wieners, mustard and noodle salad,  a few drinks and a dice game Edi taught us passed a good night.

Overnight = side of Beukers Canal

Day 3. Thursday 16 June       73.2 kilometres Locks = 2       Weather = Raining and storm
Next morning we started down the Zwaartwater, past Zwolle and through the lock onto the River Ijssel. It started to rain as we went through the lock and continued all day. We travel at about 11 kph and the current was about 2-3 kph against us and we kept as much to the side as possible.

The river is wide and the current slowed down a little by regular piles of the stones jutting out (I am sure they have a special name but I don’t know it.)
Despite the rain, the journey was interesting as we hadn’t been on the Ijssel before.
There aren’t many bridges across the river and transport across is by ferry boat usually on cable and often with attached anchor boats to stop them from going too far downstream.

We stopped the night in Zupthen Marina during a huge storm. It has been raining non stop all day.
Overnight = Zupthen Marina on the Ijssel River

Day 4. Friday 17 June        93.2 kilometres Locks = 2       Weather = Fine
This morning after all the rain the Ijssel is running about 3-4 kph as made our way to the Rhine/ Waal entrance wondering what the current on the Rhine would be like because of the rain. When we turned into the Waal we moved up from 3k against to 7k going with the stream. What a ride Courlis was going about 17 kph, Kevin loved it and it was like my worst nightmare.
We hugged the side as huge barges 130 metres and 12 M wide came from behind and in front often with three ships abreast. The big pusher Hercules came past pushing three 110m long barges, 2 barges wide, enough water being pushed in front to send me into hysterics. It was like being in a swarm of bees only they were very large boats. At the Nijmegen Bridge they all started Blueboarding to go opposite sides and we stayed out of the way as all the juggling for position took place. I managed just one photo, that of a cruise boat taking all those lucky people off on a pleasant river cruise up the Rhine.
Poor Kevin he needed all his concentration and driving with a squealing woman didn’t help. No wonder he had a headache that night. We stopped the night on peaceful Mook Lake.
Overnight = Mook Lake off Waal- Canal

Day 5. Saturday 18 June         128 kilometres Locks = 5         Weather = Raining and windy
Today was a full day travelling down Maas-Waal Canal, Maas River and Juliana canal through Limburg. The locks are 260m long and 16m wide about 10- 15m deep. We are going in behind huge barges but with floating bollards they are often easier than small locks. It has been raining and very windy all day and Maastricht was a welcome sight. Tomorrow we will be in Belgium. Kevin is realizing his calculations for the length of the trip are a bit out. But we did start from almost the northern most area of the Netherlands.
Overnight Maastricht on Juliana canal,
We have travelled 406 kilometres and 10 up locks and we have left the Netherlands

Day 6. Sunday 19 June      89 kilometres Locks = 4       Weather = Raining and windy
We got fuel in the morning and set off again heading south. We went through Lanaye Lock, the entrance to Belgium on the Albert canal. Kevin went up to show our boat papers and got a form of authority to travel through the Wallonia area of Belgium without paying fees. We are still travelling with large barges and it is still raining. Thank goodness we have good weather gear with pants and coats so we are not getting wet, but it is cold. What a contrast Belgium is on this side. We went through Leige the first big city we came to in Belgium. I loved the small house wedged in between the more modern high rise.
Next the golden bridge

Lots of industry

It was Sunday and this barge was unloading the car ready for their Sunday drive.

Then it was past the cliffs with the small houses nestled in at the foot, the larger houses just around the bend and the houses on top enjoying the view.

Some of the locks are tricky now as they are always right next to the weir. This one was approached with care then quickly around the buoys and into the safety of the lock.
We were just too late to get through the Namur lock so stayed just outside ready to set off at 6am.
Overnight = Namur, Belgium on the Meuse River

Day 7. Monday 20 June       64 kilometres Locks = 14            Weather = Raining
We were up and ready by 6am and went through the lock on our own. We are cruising past cliffs bordering the canal. We stopped in Dinant which has a citadel high up above the town and a very distinctive onion shaped dome on the Cathedral.
Dinant is also the birthplace of Adolphe de Saxe who invented the saxophone and there was a lovely display on the bridge. We did a bit of shopping here, admired the saxaphones then set off again
Leaving Dinant we passed by the Slate cliffs and factories

We have travelled 125 kilometres and 14 up locks and we have left Belgium

Next it was Givet the first lock in France where we bought our Vignette, a permit to use the VNF (Voies Navigables de France)  French Inland waters.  Just after Givet we went through the Ham Tunnel which is about 500m long and without lights. We couldn’t find the spotlight so went through with a torch shining on the wall although as you can see we could at last see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Our overnight stop was a small village of Vireux Wallerand and Kevin was quick to check if there was a Boulangerie in town. It was closed but the opening times were on the door so it was good news for tomorrows breakfast. The window display was delightful with small model figures..Img 103 0105

Overnight = Vireux Wallerand, France on the Meuse

Day 8 Tuesday 21 June       67 kilometres Locks = 12         Weather = Showers
Kevin had the joy of being able to wake up this morning and buy a real French baguette.

The river Meuse is now winding its way through the Ardennes

the weather is still cool. This storm just missed us as we cruised through the clouds and mist.

We have seen some hardy campers today and I am glad we are in our nice warm dry boat.


Overnight = Marina Charlesville Mezier on the Meuse

Day 9 Wednesday 22 June         37 kilometres Locks = 9         Weather = Showers
We went into town at Charleville Meziers to get a French sim card for the phone. We couldn’t find a cheap call one like Lyca or Lebara so settled for one from Orange.  The first lock out of town would win hands down for the worst lockkeeper in France with the worst arrangements of bollards to tie up. We had been warned but couldn’t believe that he would start the water coming in before we tied up!! BUT HE DID!!!! 

Then it was down to Pont a Bar and into the Canal Des Ardennes.
The canal is very narrow in sections

We pass through a small tunnel

 And here in a wide section we pass a 13th century church in a field . The village long gone.

We stopped the night alongside the lock.
Overnight = La Cassine Canal Des Ardennes

Day 10  Thursday 23 June       33 kilometres    Locks = 46         Weather = Fine then storm
We were up early and started our descent down the staircase of 26 locks which are about 100 metres apart. No time for photos.

No time for photos of these as it was out of one and into the other.

On the way down to Rethel to start the lock doors to open we had to turn a pipe hanging down over the canal.

We reached Rethel exhausted, had dinner and off to bed experiencing a stormy night.

Overnight = Rethel Canal Des Ardennes

Day 11  Friday 24 June         68 kilometres    Locks = 17           Weather = Fine
Up early again. My faith in Kevin’s calculations is waning just a bit, but we have always gone everywhere together so here we are!
The water in the locks is coming right to the top as there has been a lot of rain. Sometime we wonder if the overflow will be more than the sluice can get rid of.

You can tell we are in French locks by the lovely flowers coming out as the weather gets warmer but the huge log piles show that it is a very cold area in the winter. 

We turn off at Berry au Bac into the Canal de l’Aisne a la Marne. Next stop Reims. We visited the Champagne Cellars here a couple of years ago on a much more leisurely trip. But at least the weather is fine.

Overnight = Reims on Canal de l’Aisne a la Marne

Day 12  Saturday 25 June    53 kilometres    Locks = 18      Weather = Showers
We are now in Champagne country and an interesting mix of vineyards, Wheat fields and flowers.

We went through the Tunnel of Mont De Billy which is 2302 metres long and was built around 1880 and  has good lights and is the pound for holding water. Then we had a good run of 8 down locks and through lock then the tunnel at Conde sur Marne

then turned into the Canal Lateral a La Marne and 2 up locks to finish the day.
Overnight = Marina Chalons en Champagne Canal lateral a la Marne

Day 13 Sunday 26 June 39 kilometres Locks = 10 Weather = Fine
Last night we stayed in the new marina being built next to the lock. It is not quite finished but when it is the facilities will be the best we have seen so far.

We found a great found a great outdoor café in the square and as there wasn’t a menu in english we watched the food being brought out from the kitchen and chose the two most popular dishes going by. They were a good choice and along with a bottle of red it was time to relax and enjoy ourselves and forget about

In the morning Kevin found the Boulangerie in one of the half wooden buildings.

Then a short day of travel but still plenty of locks.
Overnight = Canal Vitry le Francois

Day 14 Monday 27 June 49 kilometres Locks = 19 Weather = Fine

ARE WE THERE YET!!! Kevin’s calculations are way out and I am whinging!!!

We are now on a canal we havnt been on before it was the Canal Marne de la Saone but now has a more touristy name of Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne as it goes from the River Marne in the champagne area to the River Saone in Burgundy. It is not a popular canal and although there are quite a few locks which have been reconditioned there are many which are very old and in bad repair.


Along the canal we have been experiencing very low flying fighter jet planes making a hell of a racket. Then just before St Dizier the canal was right alongside the aerodrome which had its runways parallel with the canal. We were happily driving along when we found out what it is like being in the path of a landing jet!! They touched down about 200 metres alongside us and I could see the pilots in the plane. The whole boat shook.

The Canal book showed diesel was available from a marina at St Dizier but it had closed a few years before. So we had to backtrack a few kilometres to where we had seen a garage up on the roadway. Off Kevin went with the cans and after a kilometre trudge there and back he was not in a good mood and had a few words to say about updating books as we had a recent edition.
Overnight = Canal Chevillon

Day 15 Tuesday 28 June 43 kilometres Locks = 18 Weather = Fine
Today it is very warm again we have had a hot spell with the lock keepers reporting it is 36 and tomorrow it will be 40 deg C. We are still working our way up the mountain 3 metres at a time. The weed is quite bad but thankfully the water is crystal clear. We slowed down to about 3 kph so it was time for a swim. We both had a swim when we stopped for the day and Kevin had to dive under to clear the propeller.

Overnight = Canal at Vieville.

Day 16 Wednesday 29 June 17 kilometres Locks = 8 Weather = Fine

The canal scenery is always changing and there are many lovely old bridges.

Along the way we passed a dredger clearing the canal.

It was very hot and Kevin had to break out his best hat.

We stopped around lunch time in Chaumont as Michael and Kay were arriving on the train to stay with us for a few days. It is very hot and we had a hard time getting a taxi from the port to the town which was 2 km up at the top of the hill. Once there we checked where the station was, bought some food and then tried to get a taxi back to the boat with our groceries. It was impossible to get one so we went for a coffee and the owner rang several companies for a taxi with no success and finally an ex resident visiting Chaumont offered to take us back to the boat.
In the evening we managed to got a lift back into town to the station. Michael and Kay had just finished a 27 day tour of Europe and arrived with a sad tale of having his wallet stolen at the Brussels station while boarding the train. So many people we know who have been travelling for years and are very careful have lost wallets this year.

We had trouble again trying to find a taxi as it seems they are owner driven and if they are busy already there is no luck, especially if you are trying to ask in very bad French. Finally we asked a hotel reception and after two calls we got back at the boat. A nightcap and off to bed.
Overnight = Marina in Chaumont

Day 17 Thursday 30 June 38 kilometres Locks = 23 Weather = Fine

Michael and Kay are with us for the section Chaumont to St Jean de Losne.

This morning we had a leisurely breakfast and started down the canal to Langres. We introduced Mike to the joys of Up Locking and for a first timer he was very good and I was glad of a new pair of hands and took it easy. He also took on the job of helping the lock keeper wind the doors.

I think he enjoyed helping!!!!

We crossed a canal bridge over the river as we came out of the lock

We could see Langres high up as we came closer.

We stopped for the night at Langres and took a taxi up to the city to look around and have lunch. Langres is a Fortified town overlooking the Marne Valley. It was originally a Gallo- Roman Fortress and you can still see the Triumphal area embedded in the ramparts. The ramparts are 3 kilometres long and we enjoyed a walk along the some of it before lunch in town.
Kevin taking time to smell the roses.
I am enjoying the French food, a change from the Dutch and German food we have experienced for the past three years.

We did a bit of shopping then started the trial of finding a taxi to take us back down to the Port.
Overnight = Langres
Day 18 Friday 1 July 41 kilometres Locks = 27 Weather = Fine
Great excitement this morning, today we go through the 4820 metre Balesmes Tunnel and start the descent down to the Saone.


After the tunnel we were passed by a huge boat which was keeping all options of travel open, carrying a car and bikes on the back.

At the next lock a young girl travelling on a hire boat in front of us was going into town for baguettes. She asked if we would like some also and off she cycled. It was a good sight seeing her come back at the next locks with her bag of baguettes.

We stopped for another leisurely lunch just like old times and walked into the village of Dommarien. It is very nice acting as tourists again at a less frantic pace. We have to be careful with the drinks and food when picnicking as the European Wasps can smell food from kilometres away and always arrive once the food is out. We have bought caps to put over the cans and glasses as they get right into any liquid.

The village is very old but also very pretty. The river Aisne runs alongside the canal and has a stone bridge with arches and beautiful Lavoir (wash house) where the village women did there washing in the early days alongside the river.

 The old stone buildings were great for photos

and we found a cherry tree in the street with ripe cherries low enough to pick.

Tonight after working our way down and trying to avoid the weed we saw a lock house ahead that had been turned into a café. It looked like a good stop for the night as there was a lot of activity going on. It was a problem as even though advertised as a stopping place it was full of weed. After carefully avoiding as much weed as possible we managed to tie up.
We called into the café and booked in then walked over the road as we could see a Goat Cheese factory which was advertising tasting. We tasted a few cheeses and made a purchase then went back to relax and wait for dinner time.

I like the photo of the old goats. Of course I mean the one on the advertising sign!!

Many yummy varieties of goats cheese we tried a lot of them and made purchases for future lunches.

Mike was really keen on taking this plant pot home but settled for a photo.

The meal at the restaurant was really good and all the produce was from local providers.
Overnight = St Maurice sur Vingeanne

Day 19 Saturday 2 July 39 kilometres Locks = 19 Weather = Fine
Up early today and managed to pole out to avoid the weed before starting the propeller.

Today we passed a pheasant farm. Separate areas alongside the canal were completely covered with netting.

The locks in this canal have been in very bad repair and there is a lot of weed, thankfully there is plenty of water. We have had to call out the VNF with doors not opening or closing or starting to fill. It is a big worry that we might get caught by a non working lock and not be able to go back or forward as once you leave Vitry le Francois there are no alternatives. They are trying to advertise the canal which is the most straight through route to the south but it is a bit of a gamble. We chose this one to travel instead of the Canal de Bourgogne ( only other canal in the mid to south of France we had not been on) as it has less locks. Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne is 225k long with 114 locks, the Bourgogne is 200 and has 199 locks. We found out that this one was a good choice as although the other has a lot of weed is also running dry.
There are a lot of empty lock houses which would serve as holiday houses if restored.

When the locks have been automatic we use a radar control to open the lock gates and to start the filling process.
Some of the scenery along the way.

Lots of bales of hay.
A Village just off the canal

Old iron bridges
A crusader cross in the field  


With a sigh of relief we went through we went through the lock handed back our radar control and out onto the Saone River.

Overnight = Pontailer sur Saone

Day 20 Sunday 3 July 35 kilometres Locks = 2 Weather = Fine
We had a pleasant drive down the Saone with only two locks.

We stopped the night in Auxonne as we wanted to take Mike and Kay to see the Napoleon Bonapart museum. Auxonne is very tourist friendly and a young women meets each boat to help tie up and hand out information. The town pontoons are free only paying for power if needed they are just outside the town walls. There is also a larger marina just out of town a bit.

We caught up with a group of  Austrians on a hire boat we had been speaking to earlier in the day and had a few drinks on the pontoon.

We visited the museum which is housed in an old tower of the barracks where the 18 year old Napoleon came to start his military career.
 Inside the tower is display of an exquisite Sevre dinnerset which has the portrait of each person dining at the St Cloud reception with Napoleon.

There is also Napoleon’s campaign table and Tricorn hat. All of this is housed in an old stone tower with security in the person of two older women. Unbelievable anywhere else it would be humidified and security officers would be everywhere.
One goes from floor to floor climbing a very windy narrow staircase.

A few photos of Napoleons statue and it back to the boat.

Overnight = Auxonne

Day 21 Monday 4 July 18 kilometres Locks = 1 Weather = Fine
A leisurely breakfast then off down the to last lock

And into St Jean de Losne.  What a welcome sight there were times I never thought we would get here.

We went around into H2O and found our place on the sales pontoon.
A walk through town and a drink by the river followed. Then dinner at our favourite restaurant the L’Amiral.
Overnight = St Jean de Losne

The next couple of days were spent cleaning the boat and Mike and Kay left to go back to Australia. After a very sad farewell to Courlis

we caught several trains back to the Netherlands to pick up Harry and start off once again. Our boating days are over, we had seven great years boating and now we are on to our new adventures in Harry our Motorhome.

If you would like to check out our motorhome adventures go to  ykgilbertmotorhome.blogspot.com