2015 European waterway trip – Canal de la Marne au Rhin – Part 1

Shangri La at Ligny-en-Barrois

The first part of the Canal de la Marne au Rhin was up a chain of 12 locks, through the Mauvages Tunnel, after which we started to descend again, into the “Valley of seventy” as it is called.

Locking up on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin

Simply because there are seventy locks down into it and – yes – another seventy up the other side.

Exhausting just thinking about it!

Lock on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin

We made an early start from Void, still in the company of the Belgians, without attracting the attention of the VNF.

The Belgians boat seemed to be behaving and not spilling diesel any more.

Mauvages Tunnel

These 12 locks were operated by sensors on the bank, and were quite close together, so Karen opted to jog along the towpath ahead of the boat, which made the whole locking up and mooring in the locks easier.

On seeing this, the Belgian lady decide to cycle ahead to do their ropes. She gave this up after a few locks as the tow path was quite rough and bumpy and not suitable for cycling.

Looking back in the tunnel

But Karen was able to help them with their ropes as well.

We soon had a good routine going and the 12 locks went pretty smoothly, with us arriving at the entrance to the tunnel about 13.00 hours.

The tunnel is controlled by lights and we had a green so went straight through.

Shangri La at Demange-aux-eaux

Quite an experience! 5 kilometres, dead straight through the mountain.

The tunnel was pretty well lit, fitted with a tow path, and a lockie on a bicycle accompanied us all the way through.

The transit took just on an hour.

Clear of the tunnel we went straight into the first of the seventy down locks.

Entering to lock down

Immediately after the lock was a tiny place
called Demange aux eaux, where we both stopped for lunch.

It was a delightfully peaceful place, free mooring, so when the Belgians headed off, we decided to take a rest and overnight there.

It was also a chance to get free of the Belgian boat.

Lock sign board

The scenery on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin was decidedly rural, and very pretty, but the canal itself was a bit run down, a lot of weed floating about, with the lock gates all a bit tired.

Being concious of the oil/diesel issue, we still noticed quite a bit of this on the water.

Lock control rods

Next morning we carried on down a further 16 locks of a sensor operated chain. Somewhere along the way a lockie pitched up and gave us another remote control (telecommand) which would use to operate locks after the chain.

At about 15.40 we arrive at anothe very pleasant little place – Ligny-en-Barrois.

Leaking and overflowing lock

Mooring cost was Euro 10 per night, including electricity, water and showers.

And even wifi that worked, as long as you were close to the ablution block.

It was while sitting here, catching up on comms that we met an Australian couple with a very similar boat to ours.


We swapped stories and notes, and learned about the Dutch Barge Association which has proved most useful.

We took a walk up to the town and found a Carrefour supermarket not too far away and did a bit of a shop up.

One does not make swift progress here –

Statistics for the last 2 days – A whole 36 kilometres, including a 5 km tunnel, 35 locks, going up 35 metres and down again 55 metres.

For a completely different take on our travels, have a look at my wife Karen’s blog.

Next – onwards and downwards on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin.

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