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Kerr Barging Blogs

We have spent a fair bit of time cruising in the South Pacific aboard our 33 years young 11.1metre yacht, Pastime of Sydney. We are now cruising through the canals and rivers of France on our old barge, "Anja", which was built in the North of the Netherlands in 1903. Anja was 110 years old in May 2013 and we celebrated with good French Champagne- but the boat did not get any! In 2014, for Anja's 111th, we took her back to where she was built in the North of the Netherlands.
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Plateau Towns

We have recently visited three interesting towns built to take advantage of small plateaus above the surrounding countryside. It is easy to see how much confidence the "high ground" allowed and it seems that none was successfully invaded.

Joinville
The town of Joinville was first a Roman town (369) but the town that remains was built around the foot of an 11th century castle, the home of the Dukes of Guise who were powerful in the court of France. Of particular note was Jean, the 9th Sire of Joinville who accompanied Louis IX (St Louis)  to the Crusades and was his chronicler. He was rewarded with the belt of St Joseph, now on display in the 13th Century Parish Church. While this may or may not be actually the belt of the Saint, it is very ancient  (it was brought back from the Holy Land in 1250) and we were surprised to come across it in the FrenchIMG 1966 countryside.

During the 16th century the Joinville family also built a holiday chateau in the town itself and that has been preserved. We were fortunate to arrive here during the "Festival of Gardens". The extensive gardens of the chateau and the Chateau itself were open to the public and featured  magnificent roses and pretty walks winding in and out of the streams which ran through the gardens and formed a moat around the chateau. We succumbed to the challenge and attempted the maze.  

Joinville Chateau

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Joinville is built next to the Marne and several other streams run through it. There are many fine ancient houses still in excellent condition, attractive stone bridges and also "Lavoires", communal laundries, built along the streams. The streets and lanes were very windy and crooked and many buildings leant into each other.IMG 1973Joinville Chateau gardens

 

Chaumont
The next "Plateau" town was Chaumont where the castle was built in 940, though now only the base of one tower remains. The walls were 2.6 metres thick.IMG 2080Chaumont US-French War Memorial


The Basilica of John the Baptist at Chaumont dates back to the 13th Century and is notable for its fine art including both paintings and sculptures. It is the venue for one of the first pilgrimages of France, the "Grand Pardon", when all sins were forgiven for those who were present.It was instituted in 1475 but is celebrated only during the years when the feast of St John the Baptist, June 24th, falls on a Sunday.  As it happens, 2012 is one of those years and it is clear that there will be great celebrations with concerts, street decorations, re-enactments and displays as well as religious observances. Judging by the photos from the past there will be huge crowds coming to Chaumont that weekend.

IMG 2077
Old chapel- Chaumont


 

Langres
The third "Plateau" town is Langres, again built on a high spot dominating the surrounding countryside. The first town here was built by the Romans and the fortifications date back to the 3rd century. A 1st century town gate remains. The excellent Museum and Art Gallery displays artefacts from the Gallo- Roman period including a huge mosaic unearthed when the Museum was being modernised.
A walk around the ancient town walls gave wonderful panoramas over the surrounding plains.
We were grateful to discover a bus which took us to the centre of the old town, and an inclinator which gave us a head start coming down.

IMG 2146Langres Street

Best Regards,

Penny and Dave

 IMG 2151Langres Roman Mosaic


Here is a slideshow with some other photos of the three towns. We will add some further descriptions, but until then:

The firemen/women were practising their skills just behind Anja. This is the third time this has happened on this trip!

 

Note: please be a little patient before the pictures start appearing...

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Roundabouts
Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne
 

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Wednesday, 12 June 2024

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