The Canal de la Marne a la Saone (now called the Champagne to Burgundy canal) runs from Vitry-le-Francois in a southerly direction to the Saone River near Pontailler. Construction was started from Vitry in 1862 and progressed in various stages. It wasn’t until 1907 that it was completed to the Saone and became a through canal. It is 224 kilometres long and has 134 locks with a 4.8 kilometre tunnel. It wanders through some lovely country but does not seem to have the popularity with modern boaters that it deserves.
One of our stops was at Joinville where we moored alongside an old mill that is now converted to a small hotel. We tried the restaurant and were impressed with their menu and food.
The old millstone is now a table in the gardens.
Peter is sporting a badly damaged knee, the result of falling off his bike in Vitry.
French engineers have always been good with their bridges and there are many examples of stone railway viaducts throughout France.
This one at Chaumont was built in 1857, it is 600 metres long and up to 52 metres high. It has 50 arches and 2 intermediate walkways. Rail track on the bridge was in use 12 months after construction started and it was officially opened after only 15 months.
The canals are scattered with other bridges and examples of these lift bridges are everywhere.
Sometimes the clearances of canal-side structures are very limited as this picture shows.
The canals are controlled by the Voies Navagables de France a Government body that is responsible for their maintenance as well as supervising their use. They have teams of trained people who carry out their jobs in an orderly and professional manner.
So we are told!
This is what happens when a small but powerful boat is handled on a canal by “Trained Personnel”. The operator moved over in the canal to pass us and suddenly the vessel was across the canal in our path! He drove the front almost 3 metres over the bank. The driver was not happy when he saw the camera but then had to ask us to help him. We used Matilda in reverse to pull him off the bank and back into the water.
Marg is very proud of her gardens as our visitors well know. She gets many compliments especially on her herbs and vegetables. She snapped this little admirer amongst them. We have seen these bee/moth-type insects a lot recently. They hover over the flowers and uncoil their proboscis and drink nectar from them. They are about 3 centimetres long.
The 14th of July – Bastille Day – is a big day in France, We were at Auxonne and the town put on some entertainment and a fireworks display
There was a parade of boats down the river headed by this old restored ferry.
These fellows gave a display of walking on water.
The pyrotechnics were, as usual, very good.
We arrived at St Jean-de-Losne and moored on the steps which seemed deserted. Very quickly we were only part of the scene.
We called into Gray, another favoured town of ours and wandered around its historic heart a little more.
This is the original town library which is full of ancient books and is still used as a reference centre.
We visited Claudine at the Office de Tourisme who remembered us. She showed us a copy of a book especially printed for the New Zealand Consul who visited Gray for a special celebration. Matilda and other boats we know featured in it.
We will be back in Auxonne shortly where we plan to meet some more visitors.
There will be more to tell, so we will keep in touch.