Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Montargis and the Canal de Briare, August 22 to 24

Construction on the Canal de Briare, designed to connect the rivers Loire and Seine, began in 1604 by King Henri IV but was delayed by his assassination in 1610. In 1639 the works were taken over by a pair of private investors and the waterway opened for navigation in 1642, becoming Europe’s first summit level canal. It was modified several times but was not really financially successful until the canalization of the Loing was completed in 1730, making access to the Seine easier. We entered the canal at the top in Montargis and would travel it’s entire 56 k length to Briare. 
Two small rivers, the Puiseaux and the Vernisson join the Loing just before it reaches Montargis and the city is crisscrossed by small waterways. In fact the city claims to be the “little Venice of the G√Ętinais”, as opposed to the other little Venices (Venicei?) across Europe.



We approached town from the north. The moorings are on the canal
 just across from the Lac des Closiers.

The tourist office even provides a walking tour of “The Circuit of Bridges” taking in the 17 bridges in the town.


One of the locks in town. The moorings are just through it. That’s Oldtimer!

Every year there is a countrywide judging of the floral displays of the towns and villages of France. Montargis is very proud of it’s “4 Fleurs” designation. Under almost all of those 17 bridges is a boat planter with a floral display.


We also visited the Eglise Ste Madeline and admired it’s beautiful stained glass.


Thursday afternoon we cycled down the towpath the the village of Amilly. While visiting the tourist office we had seen brochures for a modern art exhibition space in an old tannery. Appropriately named Les Tanneries, it opened in 2016. We were given a personal tour of the venue by a young intern. She told us it was the first time she had given the tour in English but she did very well. The space includes two floors of exhibits and an outside sculpture garden. If you follow the link you can learn more. It’s all in French but it details how the industrial space was first abandoned then repurposed as a welcoming place for artists.

Time was growing short so it was time to move on. Friday morning we were off to our next stop, Chatillon-Coligny.


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