Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Day 205 : moon moon river!

Today we’ve been visiting Chalon, it’s another scorcher and we’ve been diving from shady patch to shady patch. Chalon is gearing up for a big street art performance festival. Everywhere you turn there are fire eaters, dancers, fly posters and er...a pig with an overcoat with rubber gloves for hands. Our guide was a lovely German woman who had fallen for her adopted country, was very interesting regarding the early history of Chalon-sur-Saône and the more recent in WW II when Chalon was split between the occupied zone and Vichy. Some of our party were easily old enough to have fought in this war and her slightly German focused commentary didn't seem to go unnoticed but luckily there was nothing to take offence at. This area of France near history is intrinsically woven with the fortunes of the vineyards and which side of the line your vineyard was situated during the occupation.

There's a photography museum that I'm hoping to visit but it closed shortly after our guided tour finished. I hoped it may extend its hours in honour of the increased footfall for the festival but, sadly, this wasn't the case. The museum is here because one of Chalon’s acclaimed inhabitants, (Joseph) Nicéphore Niépce, is said to be the father of photography and some fine examples of his early work are housed within.

Our guide suggested that after our dinner we should return to the town to check out the festival in all its glory.

The last couple of nights our barge has been moored in a secluded spot, you see the odd cyclist or dog walker but really not much else. Suddenly we’re tethered by some steps right in the centre of all the action. The steps seem a popular spot for people to congregate, have a small picnic and as it gets later, all the local boys to hang out with their beers enjoying a bit of lively banter. Most of us decide to stay on the barge after dinner, we can drink our wine, hear the music from across the river where they seem to have a bit of a music festival with a centrepiece of a giant golden mosquito, and not bother with the crowds. One by one we realised that in the clear, darkening sky of twilight we could clearly see two full moons shining for all they were worth. There was some discussion that we’d perhaps had too many post-dinner drinks and a couple of wags claimed to only see one moon to confuse the others more. I climbed on the roof with my camera to get a better view and it really did look like the moon had acquired a twin, enhanced by the stillness of the night.

The tranquility of the buzz of the drinking boys, the strains of music floating over the river and another bottle of rosé was suddenly shattered by a proper, big, fat thunderstorm. The boys scattered sheltering under anything they could find. The moons betrayed their fakery by dancing wildly and erratically (though any more rosé and we may have been doing that also) and as a dramatic finale the sudden squally storm caused, what we could only believe was, gas and a flame to get too close and a small fireball appeared when a moon once was.


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