In Ravières, on the morning of the 29th of July, I turned the key on Wanderlust’s dash to start the engine. The motor came to life with small belch of smoke. After the troubles in Ancy-le-Franc, it would take some time until starting Wanderlust’s engine again felt routine. But for now, it was good. The new battery was working. There was no indication of any additional problems.
After cruising a little more than five hours we stopped in Montbard where we tied to the bank near the Locaboat base. Our guidebook told us that mooring is possible both above and below the lock in the center of the town. Nevertheless, as a mooring at hand is worth two in the book, we took the first place we saw. In this case either option was reasonable.
Like Ancy-le-Franc and Tanlay, Montbard has a chateau. In French “chateau” translates as “a large French country house or castle.” The chateaux in Ancy and Tanlay fit the large country house description. Sitting on a hill with substantial defensive walls, Montbard’s chateau is on the castle end of the definition.
In modern times Château de Montbard’s walls have been breeched. Locals and the occasional tourist meet no resistance when they stroll up the hill to enjoy the park between the walls and view from the ramparts. Shaded and grassy, it’s a cool place to go on a hot summer day.
While Montbard snags accidental tourists and day-trippers from nearby communes, the nearby Cistercian abbey at Fontenay draws visitors from further afield. It is one of the area’s most visited tourist destination. The peaceful abbey’s popularity is aided by its UNESCO World Heritage designation. Indeed, UNESCO’s seal of approval is at least part of the reason why we visited it in 2010. And there is, of course, a brown tourist sign promoting l’abbaye de Fontenay along the Autoroute du Soleil.
Roadside promotional considerations aside, we chose not to revisit the Abbey of Fontenay this time. Instead we went to the Casino located near the canal lock in the middle of town.
The Casino supermarket chain acquired its name in 1892 when Geoffroy Guichard purchased a grocery store located in the Casino Lyrique cabaret in Saint-Étienne. The Casino name stuck. Today the Casino supermarches are widespread through France. The stores have no obvious connection to the gambling parlor past. Patrons can gamble on whether the fish is fresh but not at a slot machine. Though we put our money at risk buying mysterious food items with labels we couldn’t quite read, it really wasn’t much of a gamble.
From Ravières to Montbard it is 20 kilometers with 11 locks. Wanderlust’s engine ran for 5.3 hours. We arrived in Montbard on July 29 and stayed for two nights.
For a map of the route click here