With Hoop Doet Leven sold to new owners the beckoning call of the soon-to-be-eaten snails still haunts us. We returned to France in December to visit the Illumination Festival in Lyon, and eat quenelles (a sort of French gefilte fish pastry) and then on to Carcasone in the elusive south, the part of France we never reached on the barge. We pulled the plug on that trip after reading about a new covid variant called Omicron. Then Sandra returned for March at her language school in Villefranche on the Côte d’Azur. She just can’t get enough of attempting French pronunciation.
Now we’ve rented a 400-year-old farmhouse in Santenay in Burgundy for July. The Santenay mooring on the Canal du Centre was our favorite barge stopping place. It is surrounded by the best Burgundy wine towns. The road signs read like the wine list at a high end restaurant. The town of Meursault is just down the road, my favorite white Burgundy. The dining table at our house had six bottles of Santenay made by the owner’s uncles. The same wine was served at dinner at the local restaurant, where the owner greeted us by asking if we were still on the boat. The wine aisle at the local hypermarche (a hypermarche – pronounced “eepermarchay”, is larger than a supermarche or supermarket) was larger than most Massachusetts liquor stores. The best show in town is watching people cruise the wine selection, shaking their heads yes and no at bottles and discussing each among themselves.
The road signs read like a good wine list
I’ve rented an electric bike and immediately rode to the canal to see who was at the mooring. One of the best parts of our ten years on the canals was being part of what we called our linear village of people we constantly ran into on our brownian motions through France. Of course the first boat at the Santenary mooring was a couple we’d gone though our European canal captain licensing course with. We caught up on who was where. They said they thought we were around since they’d just seen Hoop Doet Leven nearby. Visiting the new owners of a former boat is a delicate matter since on a new boat there are always questions about just why this certain wire was run through that certain hole and how do you change the water in the hot water tank and did the engine always smoke that much. Nonetheless, a visit to Hoop sounds like a mandatory bike ride.
All in all it is so comfortable to be back in France. Sandra gets complimented on her accent repeatedly, even by the critical cab drivers and the almond croissants at the boulangerie are as good as ever.
But all in all, I’d rather be on a barge.