Day 6: Clamecy to Dornecy

Walking in France: Clamecy, and the start of our walk
Clamecy, and the start of our walk

Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Distance 8 km
Duration 1 hours 40 minutes
Ascent 16 m, descent 10 m
Map 135 of the TOP 100 lime-green series

It was 5:15 pm when we got off the train and made for the town, feeling excited and a bit hesitant.

In the centre of Clamecy we stopped for a drink at the charming half-timbered bar where we had so gratefully had coffee ten years ago, but we did not linger, as we had some walking to do.

The hotel that we had booked was seven kilometres further along the canal and we wanted to get there for dinner.

Walking in France: Nostalgic drinks in Clamecy
Nostalgic drinks in Clamecy

Pulling out the first sheet from our great wad of more than two hundred home-made maps, we set off, past the port where the canal diverged from the river Yonne and then past the camping ground, familiar from our earlier visit.

Walking in France: Map number 1 of 218!
The first of 218 maps!

We continued along the towpath, which in this section was a reassuringly solid strip of bitumen surrounded by sodden grass and mud.

The canal, brown and brimming over in places, looped around a wooded headland and we came to the village of Chevroches with its sturdy stone bridge.

Walking in France: Chevroches

Here we crossed the canal, although it would have been better to wait until the second bridge, as we soon found ourselves pushing through long, lank wet grass while the bitumen continued on the other side.

But after the second bridge the result was the same – water soaking in to saturate our socks and set us up for blisters in the days that followed.

Walking in France: Rinsing our boots in preparation for arriving at our hotel
Rinsing our boots in preparation for arriving at the hotel

The shortest way to our hotel (called la Manse) was marked on the map as a path, but turned out to be a substantial dirt road that crossed a loop of the river and then a field full of cows.

A herd of cattle had passed along it earlier, churning up the surface into a slimy, evil-smelling mixture of manure and mud, which splashed onto our trousers as we picked our way along.

Further on the river had broken its banks and our track disappeared into a long pool.

There was nothing for it but to take off our shoes and socks, roll up our trousers (giving them and our shoes a bit of a rinse at the same time) and wade through.

Walking in France: View from our hotel window
View from our hotel window

We could see the back of the hotel not far away and soon the track climbed to a road. Respectably shod once more, we presented ourselves at the hotel entrance, where the lights were already casting a welcoming gleam, and were shown up to our room.

Our window looked out over the flooded field that we had just crossed. It was about 7 pm and we had time for showers before descending to the elegant dining room, where a couple of tables were already occupied.

After an aperitif, we chose the two-course blackboard menu for €14.

Walking in France: Too late for a photo!
Too late for a photo!

The first course was a classic French plate – steak with blue cheese sauce, a crusty gratin dauphinois, provençal tomatoes and courgettes, plus a basket of bread and a carafe of red wine.

We fell upon it and had polished our plates before we remembered that we should have taken a photo first.

Walking in France: Second course
Second course

The second course was crepes made by our hostess, as light as tissue paper, with a sweet, rich sauce and cream.

It was a promising start to our gastronomic tour of the Canal du Nivernais.

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