Cycling French Canals

10,000 km in 2 years :: FW’s Practical Navigation editor and international waterways expert David Edwards-May has set off on his self-powered peregrinations through France . . .

France has the most extraordinary and diverse network of inland waterways in the world. The length of the navigable network is conventionally given as 8,500 km, while historically there were 12,500 km, and in practice today around 9,000 km potentially navigable, although some parts of the network have regrettably been downgraded to ‘water channel’ status, and are no longer navigable.

According to many French players in the tourism sector, it is urgent to start enjoying this unique heritage and its delightful landscapes from the towpath. David Edwards-May has now set out to do just that, cycling or occasionally running along the whole 9,000 km over the next two years. With the inevitable detours and back-tracking after taking the wrong side, this brings the provisional tally to 10,000 km. Where the opportunity arises, or where there is no waterside route, he will get on to a boat . . . read on!