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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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Briare Canal

IMG 2281Pont Canal at Briare (canal 60+ metres over the Loire River)

The Canal Lateral to the Loire ends at Briare with the crossing of the Loire River on a magnificent Pont Canal, 663 metres long, decorated at each end with imposing spires and lined with elegant lightposts, all designed by Eiffel, of Tower fame.

IMG 2314This commercial barge had only 5mm gap each side!From here we travel on the ancient Briare Canal, begun in 1604 during the reign of Henry IV, delayed following his assassination in 1610 and finally completed in 1642. At two points along the Canal it is possible to inspect the original staircase locks which changed levels very rapidly at Rogny and Dammerie. It is only 57 kms long with 35 locks, joining the Canal lateral to the Loire to the Canal du Loing, and so part of the continuous route from the Seine River to the Saone River thus from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

IMG 2318The old 7 lock staircase of Henry IV
The Canal was moderately busy with one or two commercial barges (of Freycinet size) and a few rental craft, but mainly with privately owned boats like Anja. There are several very attractive and very old towns along the way and good provision of moorings.

IMG 2335The Briare Canal at Dammarie

IMG 2339The less-known but equally ancient 4 lock staircase at Dammarie

In Montbouy we came across a 2nd Century Roman Amphitheatre. This was a real surprise and this large Amphitheatre had some unique features in how the stones were held together. It was very large and we could not fit it in one photo, so here is a part of it.


IMG 2369

IMG 2363Pretty Lavoir at Montbouy (anja in the background)

The Canal ends at Montargis, sometimes called "Little Venice" because of the many small canals dotted through the town. It is beautifully decorated with flowers on the many bridges and even in tiny boats on the small canals, and thoroughly deserves its status as a "four flower town", the top flower rating- Paray le Monial is similarly ranked.

IMG 2380Montargis
From Montargis it was convenient to visit Orleans, 60 kilometres away, the largest city in this area. The bus trip took a little over an hour and cost 2.40 euros a person, so was a very good way to make the trip.  It was very popular. It was full to capacity and left about 10 potential passengers behind on the return trip to catch the next bus an hour later.

IMG 2383The magnificient Cathedral at Orleans
Orleans was a most attractive and interesting city, set on a very broad stretch of the Loire River. It seems to welcome visitors with excellent tourist information throughout and very reasonably priced and beautifully presented attractions. The Cathedral is magnificent. The Art Gallery displays some stunning paintings and we were very excited by the bronze objects from the second century BC  displayed in the Museum of Antiquities. These were found buried close to Orleans and are in amazing condition.
The breaking of the siege of Orleans was one of St Joan of Arc's major triumphs, so she is widely remembered. We were also pleased to find a plaque to acknowledge the contribution of Australian and other Allied forces to the defence of France.

 

 

IMG 2442Magnificent bronze horse from 200BC

 Best Regards,

Penny and Dave

IMG 2457Old paddle-wheeler on the Loire at Orleans

IMG 2469Old Orleans street

Location (Map)

Montargis, France
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Canal du Loing
To the Canal de Briare
 

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Thursday, 30 May 2024

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