Our Barge, Odysseus

Friday, August 29, 2008

La France! August 14

At 1:15 pm we pulled into the Ecluse les 4 Cheminées, purchased our permit to use the canals in France and crossed another border. Love the EU. Not even a sign this time!
By 2:15 we were tied up in Givet. We didn't use the marina since we didn't need the power or water, instead we tied up on the other side of the river. This was the view back across to the marina as the sun set.

Most of the major towns along the Meuse have some kind of fortification, some bigger than others. Originally built by Charles V in 1555, Charlemont Fort was rebuilt by Vauban, who seemed to have a hand in every major fortification in France, in the 17th century.

The next morning it was up and away, this time to face another feature (or is that bug?) of the French canal system; a tunnel.
In this area the Meuse is a very curvey river and rather than make you do all of the double-backs, the canal builders helpfully cut across some of the meanders. In this case, we entered the Ham Tunnel.

It's dark in there! Luckily we bought a spotlight to use during tunnel navigation. This one is only a half kilometer long. Later (in other parts of France, not this year) we'll face some that are as long as 4 kilometers!
On the approach to the tunnel we spotted a feature of the French power generation system. No greenhouse gasses here!

We spent the night at a pontoon in the small town of Haybes. We tied up about 2 pm and there was a "fete" happening in the park along the waterfront. The only problem was that they had the speakers blasting bad Europop right at the boat. The celebration was supposed to end around 7 pm so we went for a walk up to a viewpoint where we could see another of the Meuse' snakelike bends around the town of Fumay.

We'll be going through there tomorrow.

The next couple of nights were spent tied to the bank in the small village of Montherme. We wanted to do a little bike riding and there's an old railway line that used to run into Belgium that's been turned into a bike path.
This was the view across the water at the hillside town.

Our next stop was Charleville-Meziers, which will be the largest town close by our winter storage location. We found a great free tie up and spent a couple of days. Unfortunately the weather was pretty crummy so the pictures are sparse. Maybe next spring the weather will be more cooperative.

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