Updated: Mar 17, 2021
The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer in Saint-Jean-de-Losne reminded us of some of the resort areas near San Francisco that we knew as kids, like the Russian River or Lake Tahoe, where the days were long, full of simple pleasures, and time passed slowly.
Relaxing on our back deck one day, we watched a small parade of bateaux vapeurs, steam engine boats glide by looking very Monet-like among the lily pads.
The lazy pace established during a record-breaking heatwave meant that the biggest event of the day was strolling into town to find a café with a table in the shade. Going to the café almost always included bumping into friends who had the same idea. The coolest café in town was L´Amiral, with a breeze from the river on one side and its outdoor tables shaded by the constant shadow of the church on the other. From there you could see who was coming and going on the river and the main street in town. The atmosphere in St. Jean was so pleasant that even though everyone talked about leaving, no one ever did. We were not the only boaters who came for a week and stayed for six.
One festival after another filled the warm evening air with music and laughter. Sitting by the river during a performance of Le Club Country, the local line dancing group, we all tried working on the lyrics for a country-western tune with the title of Stuck in Saint-Jean-de-Losne Again or The Boatyard Blues.
With a large group in attendance at L´Amiral for dinner one night, we formed the St. Jean chapter of the Hotel California Club. Many of us had completed our work, but still remained in town. Like the song said, we decided that you could check out, but you could never really leave.
When we were kids, we never wanted to leave the summer resort either, but back then, we had our parents to tell us when it was time to go. We set a "get out of town" deadline for ourselves and then changed it when we realized that we would miss the blessing of the boats by only one week. Staying meant that we could enjoy La Fête de la Musique with friends.
One of our favorite nearby towns is Dôle, and we decided to go there for the national music festival which is held in every city, town and village each year on the summer solstice. Just like last year in Paris, music was around every corner. The European champion youth brass band played in front of the church, and people listened from their balconies. There were rock bands and jazz groups everywhere. As in Paris, everyone was out enjoying the evening.
The next evening, we moved out onto the Saône to enjoy yet another festival on the eve of the blessing of the barges. There was a local contest for selecting Miss du pays Losnais, baton twirlers, carnival booths, and a county fair atmosphere.
Sunday was a bright and sunny morning, thankfully not as hot as it had been. Everyone was in place on their barges with all flags flying and sun umbrellas in place, awaiting the morning mass that preceded the blessing of the boats.
We had never seen a priest saying mass in a captain's cap before, and the alter boys
providing shade during communion service added to the festive feeling of the day.
After mass on the local restaurant boat serving as the church, the priest, altar boys and choir, and local dignitaries boarded a launch. They sailed out onto the Saône behind us, and with his hand raised, the priest sent a good sprinkling of holy water flying towards us. He blessed our barge and our flag as well. We sighed in relief and immediately felt better, confident that we could continue cruising without having any new problems.
Back in the harbor that night, the sun set on a beautiful day, we said so long to our friends, and early the next morning we cast off and began, yet again, our summer cruising adventure.