Roanne - Beaulon

On Tuesday the 1st of April 2014 we left our winter mooring for over 5,5 months at Roanne. The first day of our summer cruise! We have planned to be on the move for about 6,5 months. After 25,5 kilometers (16 miles) and having descended 3 locks, all in 4,5 hours, our first overnight stop was Melay-sur-Loire. This picture is another version of the spot – see picture 16 of the weeks 40&41 in 2013 or the one on FB on the 1st of April. We are breasted up to ‘Vrouwe Dirkje’, self-evidently with the permission of their generous owners, Anton & Dicky.

This picture depicts more or less the counterpart of the 12th picture of the weeks 40&41 of 2013. The deepest lock on Le Canal de Roanne à Digoin, named ‘Bourg le Comte’, bridges a difference in level of 7,19 meters (almost 24 feet). As you can see this depth allows for the part on top of the downstream gates to be a fixed one.

Bye for now, Canal de Roanne à Digoin, we thoroughly enjoyed all your 55 kilometers (34 miles) and 10 locks, bridging a total difference in level of 37,5 meters (125 feet). This time skipping a photo of the mooring spot at La Baume –see the 7th picture of the weeks 40&41- we entered Le Canal Latéral à la Loire on Thursday the 3rd of April. Le Canal Latéral à la Loire has a length of almost 200 kilometers (125 miles) and the number of locks is (only) 37. It was dug out between 1834 en 1838. Just 4 years. Amazing! Similar to Le canal de Roanne à Digoin, Le Canal Latéral à la Loire accompanies the river Loire (did the name give it away by any chance?) for its entire length, descending almost 100 meters (330 feet).

On Thursday the 3rd of April we reached our first overnight stop on Le Canal Latéral à la Loire, a place called Pierrefitte-sur-Loire. In two days we had negotiated 9 locks; 7 on Le Canal de Roanne à Digoin and the first 2 on Le Canal Latéral à la Loire. The two laps took us some 8 hours and a few more minutes in total.

Next to the mooring place at Pierrefitte-sur-Loire was this (fairly new) hotel/restaurant, named ‘La Péniche’. For some reason we think the painting on its wall echoes its name. ‘Let’s have dinner there tonight’, la capitaine suggested enthusiastically. Followed by what can be described as a little disappointment: opening hours between 10AM and 3PM daily, added by 5:30PM till 11:30PM only on Fridays and Saturdays. We were there on a Thursday... How on earth do they make their money???

Funny (1). (Pierrefitte-sur-Loire.)

Friday 4 April 2014 we planned to travel from Pierrefitte-sur-Loire to Garnat-sur-Engièvre. We never reached the intended destination – and will tell hereunder why. Before we left the lock keeper on duty informed us about work in progress on the pound between the first lock (‘Theil’) and the one thereafter (‘Putay’), causing the normal water level to drop dramatically. After comparing the remaining depth with our draught we unanimously decided to go ahead. The level was (close to) 1 metre below normal level. We moved ever so slowly forward. No problems occurred.

The problem is, as this picture clearly shows, the (sheet) piling (?, bank protection?). Doubtless a few years older than many a reader of this blog, by the way. This is solved by covering the existing surface with a sheet and putting earth on top of that. Furthermore the sheet is used to prevent more of the ‘bank-body’ to seep away into the canal through the holes in the ‘prehistoric’ piling, as is clearly visible on the picture. On us it made the impression of a rather inexpensive solution, due to a lack of funds. Or is it just an environmental friendly solution??

While on the way we discovered a mooring possibility near a place called Beaulon, less than 3 kilometers (less than 2 miles) before Garnat-sur-Engièvre. We read that Beaulon offers free electricity as well as water. A decision was made instantly: we’d moor at Beaulon – and that is what we did. After 5 hours of cruising and having descended 5 locks we ended up at this gorgeous spot around 2:15PM. La Capitaine suggested immediately to install a 5 day-working-week and leave not earlier than Monday the 7th. There was no opposition whatsoever, so this is where we are during the week-end of 5 and 6 April 2014. It really looks like a little paradise.

Funny (2). (Beaulon.)

Our mooring spot is situated immediately behind (downstream) of Beaulon Lock. There’s a house very close to the lock and that house is for sale. See the picture. As the country side in France is rapidly depopulating in favour of the cities, one fears the worst by seeing this. Loads of houses are uninhabited in France’s countryside and it’s a real shame it all seeing go into a state of dereliction. Hopefully not with this one (and a lot of other ones).

The view as seen from the front of the house that is for sale. Isn’t it a view to die for? Buy a house in France!