Our Barge, Odysseus

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Locks, locks and more locks

The Canal des Vosges (a much nicer name than it's previous "Canal de l"est, Branche Sud), connects the Moselle River with the Saone; 93 locks in about 120 kilometers. The Romans thought about making some kind of connection when they were in charge but the technology didn't exist at the time. It wasn't until France lost Lorraine to the Prussians in 1870 that the construction of the water link became a high priority. Work started in 1874 and was completed by 1882. It's also part of the through-route from the Mediterranean to points north. We saw a lot of sailboats (with their masts stowed, of course), many of them with Scandinavian flags. We found it to be one of the prettiest navigations we've done in France, very green and peaceful.

We made what turned out to be a brief stop in the cit of Epinal. There is a separate 3 kilometer arm of the canal that takes you to town, crossing a bridge over the Moselle, which the canal follows closely to near it's summit. We pulled into tthe marina about 5 pm after a very hot day and 15 difficult locks. The next day was also very warm so we did a little walking around and, after a large lunch, visited the Musee International de l'Imagerie. Epinal is famous for print making and the museum contains a pretty comprehensive history of the craft (plus it is air conditioned!).
Late Tuesday it began to cloud up and Wednesday morning it began to rain so we ended up doing boat chores and didn't get out much. Thursday's weather looked better and we had a chain of 15 locks in about 3 kilometers to reach the summit of the canal. We left at the punishing hour of 8:30 am so we could get to the first lock around 9. We negotiated the series of locks with no problem, accompanied by a Swiss couple in their cruiser, reaching the summit after about 2 1/2 hours. after the 11 k summit pound, we entered the first lock on the downhill side and found a wall to tie up to near the village of Girancourt. Nothing there but a small peaceful village surrounded by farmland and a good place to spend the night.

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