The Saône: Saint Jean de Losne to Verdun-sur-Doubs

Wanderlust in Verdun-sur-Doubs

As June of 2017 came to a close Wanderlust’s obligation to be in Saint Jean de Losne for follow-up surveys was fulfilled. At this point all we could do is wait. It would take at least a month for the next round of reports from the surveyors to be generated. Once the findings were published, it would take more time before we heard back from the builder. Until then it was unlikely we would be called on to make Wanderlust available for additional inspections. The legal dispute also meant that we had to wait to initiate the repairs. As letters passed back and forth between the solicitors Wanderlust’s future was uncertain.

If the builder did choose to counter our surveyors’ reports, especially the paint survey from Safinah, the dispute would be prolonged. The already high dispute related expenses would increase drastically. If the dispute went to court it would be very easy for the combined legal expenses for both sides to exceed £250,000. Neither side could fully expect to recoup these costs. Both sides would lose; it would just be a matter of who lost more. We hoped it wouldn’t come to court, but at this point the builder had not behaved in a manner that we felt was financially sensible. We had hope that this would change, but there was no good reason to believe that it would.

Sharing the first lock in Seurre

With all this hanging over our heads Wanderlust was put back into the water. We had no plans. The only immediate need was to find a mooring for the night. Near the peak of the season the most desirable moorings in Saint Jean were already full. We’d have to leave Saint Jean.

Saint Jean de Losne is situated near six major waterways, depending on how you count them. Among the choices, one route stood out. Heading downstream on the Saône, past the intersection with the Canal du Centre, would take us to places that Wanderlust had not yet been. The Saône and eventually the Rhône are wide commercial waterways with large infrequent pan-European-scale locks. For most of the time we wouldn’t have need of Wanderlust’s bow thruster, which remained inoperative while we waited for Vetus to manufacture the replacement tailpiece. Under the circumstances, heading south seemed the best option. Thus we turned Wanderlust downriver and moved the throttle forward. Though our route had been chosen our destination was uncertain.

The heavy weather starts to clear

The initial challenge was to find a mooring spot for the first night. Mooring spots for a 20-meter barge on the stretch of the Saône below Saint Jean can be challenging to find. It didn’t help that we departed Saint Jean de Losne later than normal, as we had to wait for the surveyors to finish up.

The first best option was the port in Seurre, just past the first lock downstream of Saint Jean. We called ahead to the capitaine to see if space was available. Over the phone we understood there was a place for Wanderlust but when we arrived it was clear all of the moorings at the visitors’ pontoon were taken and had clearly been taken for some time. We marked it up to more confusion caused by our bad phone French and continued on downstream.

Our next reasonable option was Verdun-sur-Doubs. Again we called ahead. And again we were told there was a place for Wanderlust at the quay. With a “reservation” for a spot ahead we pushed on downstream. We’d arrive late, which left few desirable options for alternative moorings if Verdun was not available.

Verdun from the water

South of Seurre the skies darkened and the wind picked up as a rainsquall approached. As Wanderlust entered the Ecuelles lock cut the rain and hail from a passing cell came heavy and hard. For a moment we were unable to see anything, even the red and green channel markers nearby. We cut the power and drifted slowly along with the flow hoping that we were clear of any obstacles and waiting for the visibility to return.

In a few minutes the rain eased. The riverbanks and channel markers reappeared out of the mist. We were still more or less dead center in the straight navigation channel. Luckily the current and headwind had kept Wanderlust on course.

Wanderlust at the quay in Verdun-sur-Doubs

By the time Wanderlust traveled the remaining 600 meters to the lock the rain had stopped completely. And as we neared Verdun about nine kilometers downstream the sky overhead had cleared; the rain was forgotten and the winds had calmed. The weather in France this time of year comes and goes quickly.

Verdun-sur-Doubs overlooks the River Doubs near its confluence with the Saône. Technically the river below the Verdun-sur-Doubs confluence should be named the Doubs, as the mean annual flow of the Doubs is slightly higher than the Saône. But at the confluence the Saône appears significantly larger; the Doubs’ channel width is noticeably narrower. Before careful hydrology was done it is easy to understand why it was thought the Saône at the confluence was the larger of the two rivers.

At the intersection of the two rivers we turned Wanderlust sharply around into the Doubs’ stronger flow and pushed upriver. The Verdun’s port, hidden from view by a bend in the river, sits about a 500 meters upstream of the confluence. Once we rounded the bend we could see that the only mooring large enough for Wanderlust in Verdun-sur-Doubs was indeed available, thankfully.

The commercial that came in at night departed the next morning, this time going forward. Time is money.

We came into the bank slowly aware large boulders reduced the water depth at the both ends of the quay. Without a bow thruster getting into the dicey mooring was riskier than normal. We needed to judge things right the first time. Fortunately this time we did and Wanderlust squeezed into the quay between the submerged rocks without harm. Once at the bank we set the ropes. Wanderlust was good for two nights in Verdun. The pause gave us a chance shop and to recover from the surveys.

Verdun is a dusty rough but pleasant town that would fit in well in the south of France. The quiet commune has a few restaurants and bars along with a supermarket. Our timing was off; we missed the weekly market just above the port. But otherwise things were good. We like Verdun and are happy to stay there when we pass by.


Wanderlust’s engine ran 5 hours as she cruised from Saint Jean de Losne to Verdun-sur-Doubs. There were two locks on the way. It is 37 kilometers from Saint Jean to Verdun.

Clicking on this link should bring up a map of the route from Saint Jean de Losne to Tournus, the next stop past Verdun-sur-Doubs.


2 thoughts on “The Saône: Saint Jean de Losne to Verdun-sur-Doubs

  1. Pingback: The Saône: Verdun-sur-Doubs to Tournus | Wanderlust

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