Four ecluses on the Upper Seine will be closed for maintenance and repair between 28th August and 29th September 2013.
Coudray – PK130
Vives Eaux – PK116
La Cave – PK101
Varennes – PK71
This work will affect routes to or from the Mediterranean through Paris. It will close through navigation on the ‘Bourbonnais’ route south from Paris through the Loire valley. It will be necessary to use the ‘Champagne’ route instead. Access between the upper River Yonne via the Haute Seine and the Canal de Loing will also be affected.
french-waterways.com now has nearly 50 separate pages of Cruising in Detail information about individual French rivers and canals.
Our latest covers one of France’s most picturesque and most popular – the Canal du Nivernais. Situated in central France, this waterway ‘jewel’ links the Loire valley to the south with the Yonne valley and Paris to the north.
Capestang bridge – Canal du Midi PK188.5 – is one that is often reckoned the lowest on the canal. We think it isn’t (pointing that finger at the ecluse bridges at Carcassonne PK105 and PK108 – or maybe the water levels there are consistently higher), but it is an awkward shape and it’s fairly narrow too, or seems it.
Whilst the apex is at the ‘book’ height of 3.3m, the ‘shoulders’ are less curved than is usual and this can cause problems. For us, even though headroom at the centre of the arch was passable without a problem, we still squeezed our aft deck side guard rails through with just a few millimetres to spare. There are stories – are they apocryphal? – of boats loading up with big containers of water, or extra passengers, so as to float lower and get through.
Mike Hoffman measured the arch in March 1996 – this is our dimensioned illustration of what he found.
The situation is naturally of concern to the towns and villages that will be affected by the loss of boating visitors during this time, not the least to the hire boat bases in the locality.
The Petite Seine (above Paris, to the east) saw some superb cleaning-up work in November 2012. An amazing number of cars were scooped up from the river bed. All of them perfect examples of ‘Beyond Economic Repair’.
Cruising details for the 313km long Canal de la Marne au Rhin (Vitry to Strasbourg) have now been added to the information available on french-waterways.com. One of France’s longest canals, built in the mid C19th through beautiful scenery, rolling hills and steeply wooded valleys, until quite recently the canal saw busy commercial traffic. That has changed and the waterway is now a perfect, quiet and scenic, location for plaisanciers on their own craft, for hire-boaters enjoying holidays and vacations, and for luxury hotel barge charters.
A fascinating voyage through the Canal de la Marne a la Saone (Entre Champagne et Bourgogne, the ‘Heuilly’) in 1975 on the peniche ‘Beecliffe’. Super 8 film transferred to VHS and then digital, so the quality is not perfect, but . . .
From today’s perspective the canal scenery is relatively unchanged. What is noticeably different, 38 years on (Oh, youth!), is the number of commercial peniches to be seen. Now there are just some, a few, which is beneficial because they help maintain the canal depth. And of course, the ecluses are no longer hand-wound, nor are there eclusiers at each one.
More VNF news. Waterways are proposed by VNF to be divided into three classifications –
Type 1 – designated for tourist/pleasure use only
Type 2 – pleasure and commercial use
Type 3 – commercial use only
No implications yet understood regarding Type 3 and private plaisancier use, but a number of rowing clubs in northern France would be affected and be obliged to close down or move location. Of the fourteen rowing clubs (clubs d’aviron) in Nord/Pas de Calais, seven would have this implication. Naturally, they are making representations to the VNF Director, Marc Papinutti.
Just announced by VNF – the 10% discount available for a full year’s licence to travel the rivers and canals of France has been extended to 30th April. It’s normally available up until 30th March, but changes to the VNF vignette charging structure for 2013 created some ‘hard case’ increases for some so this is an interim concession.
Recent updates to the information available on french-waterways.com –
River Baise cruising in detail guide Information about this delightful river in south-west France that flows north to join the Garonne near Buzet. The Baise is attractively leafy and narrow, in some places twisting as well. In a suitable boat (including many hire boats available from Buzet or Agen) it offers a uniquely delightful cruise, surrounded by wild life including lots of kingfishers (martin-pecheurs).
German Waterways eGuide Perhaps slightly beyond our ‘All France remit’ but this excellent, revised and expanded eGuide from Tom Sommers’ Eurocanals series deserves to be included. Very appropriate if you are passing through Germany on your way to or from, France. Download in PDF format and view on an iPad or other eReader device.