Tom Fenton and Faith Ressmeyer
Sun 28 Sep 2014 18:13
Lyons is an exciting city, elegant and beautiful, at the confluence of the Rhone and the Saone. We cycled to its heart, the enormous open space called the Bellecour, where there was a roller skating festival, and BMX event. But throughout the city, as far as we could see from the river, people made good use of the river walkway, people cycled in large numbers or ran or jogged or roller skated or scootered, and were having a good time.
Have a look at this
What do you see? Two barges moored to the bank. Look again. They are moored to a larger barge that is a lush garden of grasses, shrubs and small trees: a floating park. It reminded us of the High Line in NYC.
Going up the Saone, the difference in character between the two rivers was immediately obvious. There was almost no recreational use of the Rhone at all. The Saone is well used recreationally, on a smaller scale (not unlike the Thames just upriver from London, and for some reason I cannot quite put my finger on, more beautiful.
We were some way past the Ile Barbe before I realised how spectacular it was. From here on the banks of the river were covered with people enjoying themselves, families picnicking, anglers, sunbathers, lovers sitting holding hands. It reminded one of an early Renoir film, or even at times of Seurat's famous painting of the Seine.
On the river, too, people were sailing, canoeing, water skiing, or just making waves in fast motor boats. As much of a pain as that is for us, it is great to see the river being used.
Only one lock today, but a completely different experience. Our VHF call was not answered as far as I could tell, but the gate opened as we arrived. Something large was coming out, and since there was no waiting pontoon we tried to hover but found ourselves in the race below the weir, with a strong tail wind. The emerging vessel was a pusher with two lighters, and it took for ever to manoeuvre itself out of the lock, during which time we tried to balance the wind and current and keep some semblance of directional stability. At last we were able to enter the lock. No floating bollards. You have to select a bollard in the lock wall, and as you rise you transfer your lines to the bollard above, and so on until you reach the surface. Each time you take your lines off a bollard you are vulnerable to wind or turbulence. A bit on the stressful side, but we made it with dignity, and were rewarded by a cheery and enthusiastic wave from the lock keeper as we left. The lock keeper? The first time we have seen one. The locks on the Rhone we operated remotely, and the staff, who were often great communicators, may have been in a office in Lyons or Paris for all we knew. So having a window thrown open and a reliable person appear, shouting his farewell above the throb of our motor, was a new pleasure.
Here at Trevoux we are on a pontoon, small but quite large for this river, and next to us is the luxury passenger boat Serenity. Serenity was moored next to us for our last two days in Avignon. The quiet professionalism of the crew had impressed me there. Tonight, as darkness falls, we could do without the noise of its generators. The captain has assured us they will be turned off at ten. Thank heavens.
We will leave the Saone at Chalon, which is about about 110km from here, and we expect to get there in two days, spending the first night at Macon.