2015 European waterway trip – Canal de la Marne a la Saone – Last part

On the Canal de la Marne a la Saone

We left Langres nice and early, right behind a French boat.

Arriving at the first lock, nothing happened.

We could see the French lady in the boat ahead on her mobile phone.

About 20 mins later a lady lockie arrived and operated the the lock and accompanied us through the next one as well.

Approaching the Balemes Tunnel

The Balesmes tunnel was just around the corner and the lockie came and told us that the lights were out  in the tunnel and did we have a searchlight?

Well – we have a large bright torch which we can plug in to the mains, so we thought that would be okay.

We approached the tunnel.

Following the French boat

Now the guide book had told us the height clearance was just over 5.00 metres, but as we got closer there was one of those chain things hanging across, indicating the height was 3.50 metres!

We were at 3.60 metres, so a quick Full Astern.

We lowered the fwd canopy as well, and continued on into the tunnel.

Wild stop at Piepape

I naturally had our navigation lights on, and turned on the ‘searchlight’.

This lasted about 5 or so minutes. and all were we left with was the glow of the navigation lights.

Fortunately my eyes adjusted quickly and this glow was just enough for me to see the rail along the side of the tunnel and keep us on track.

Not Karen’s happiest moments as she is claustrophobic.


Anyway about 55 mins later we emerged safely out the other end.

This last part of the canal took us three days. 73 kilometres, 46 locks, 7 metres up and 157 metres back down again.

Our first stop was a wild stop at what the French call a ‘Halte Pique-Nique’ near the minute town of Piepape.

Clock tower in Piepape

Both the guide book and sign indicated a supermarket not
too far away.

We took a walk up there and there was nothing happening.

(The only moving things were the hands on the clock tower!)

We did spot one local and asked them where this supermarket was?

No it had closed down years ago.

Moored at Piepape

But it was a beautiful little place.

Apple trees growing on some open ground, with loads of apples lying around, so we filled up a bag and took them back to the boat.

A very peaceful evening on board.

Next day was a bit frustrating.

Another peaceful wild mooring

We had arranged for a lockie at 09.00, but by 09.05 nothing.

Another phone call to VNF and he finally arrived at 09.30.

Then we came across some commercial barges coming the other way and had to wait at some of the locks, as well as having difficulty passing in the narrow canal, and
even getting pushed aground once.

Lock overflowing and filling

That night was another wild stop just before a lock at which we arrived too late to get through.

Another issue on this section was that the locks seemed to leak badly and one or two seemed to be filling up almost as fast as they were emptying!

Viaduct over the canal

Despite all the various issues it was still a beautiful trip with lovely scenery, including the ancient Viaduct d’Oisilly.

Viaduct signpost

Finally, just before 1400 we left the canal and turned downstream into the Saone River.

End of the this canal

So next…. on the Saone.

For a slightly different perspective on our travels see Karen’s blog.

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