Four days after our arrival in Montargis the VNF reopened the Canal de Briare to navigation. We were allowed to continue on our way south. On the first leg from Montargis, we cruised 23 kilometers passing through eight locks before we stopped in Châtillon-Coligny for the night. The smallish quay in Châtillon-Coligny is nicely developed with free water and electricity.
It is not uncommon for us to encounter free of charge serviced moorings on the waterways in France. When we do find them, we make an effort to visit the town and buy supplies if at all possible. It seems only fair to contribute to the local economy in some small way in exchange for the use of the facilities.
The central square in Châtillon-Coligny is about 500 meters from the port de plaisance. In France small towns like this one often seem to be losing their citizens. But in reality, the population of Châtillon-Coligny has remained around 2,000 people since the first census in 1793. Nonetheless, visiting at the end of the day on a Saturday during a holiday weekend, Châtillon-Coligny was quiet and seemingly vacant. There were few people on the streets as we wandered about discovering a bit of the commune’s history, its hospital for the poor, its church, its castle, and its ramparts.
Perhaps unsurprisingly we found that all of the stores in Châtillon-Coligny were closed. Though it shouldn’t, the totality and uniformity of French retail store closures on evenings, holidays, and Sundays often catches us by surprise. As Americans from a metropolitan area we instinctively expect at least a few stores to remain open. But in small town France there are few exceptions; when the stores close, they all close. And in Châtillon-Coligny most stores would not be open again until Monday at the earliest. The best we could do to help the local economy was to buy a couple of beers at the local bar. On a warm day the beers were refreshing but the five Euros we paid was hardly a fair trade for the free mooring.
(Wanderlust arrived in Châtillon-Coligny on May 9, 2015.)