Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Up and Up, July 3-5

The Canal des Vosges was first planned by the Romans to connect the Moselle and Saone Rivers but locks as we know them today hadn’t been invented yet so construction would wait until the 1870’s to begin. France had lost the Fanco-Prussian War and with it, a major portion of eastern France and a new north-south waterway was needed to avoid the expanded Prussia. Work started in 1874 and was completed in 1882. We saw one lock that still had “1878” chiseled in the stone. 
From south to north, our direction, it follows the Coney River to the top with 46 lock in about 50 kilometers. After a 10 kilometer summit pound, 47 locks follow the beginnings of the Moselle River for about 60 kilometers until the canal actually joins it the near the giant steel mill in Neuves Maison. Along the whole way it runs through heavily forested hillsides with the occasional farm. It’s very rural and occasionally we were so far out in the sticks we lost phone service! In the 21st century!

We spent both nights on the “up” section on canalside banks, one by ourselves just after the small village of Fontenoy le Chateau, which we visited in 2011, and the next in a basin below a lock with two other boats; another place we stayed in 2011. When we moored up the second afternoon we heard what we thought was a familiar sound. There, in the barnyard across the way was Benjamin Franklin’s choice for the national bird of the US.

That’s the entrance to Lock #18 across the basin.

At the beginning of the canal, right after Corre, the locks are pretty well spaced, with 1 or 2 k between them and there’s a major hireboat base in Fontenoy. There was alot of traffic. After Fontenoy the locks get closer together but at least there’s no hireboat traffic. They don’t want to face all the uphill locks. The final 10 kilometers has 16 locks but with so few other boats we were able to complete them without any waiting. We left Corre Sunday morning and were in the summit pound and tied up in the Village of Chaumousey by about 2 pm on Tuesday.
The canal is elevated in this area and splits the town in two. They solved the problem by putting roads and footpaths under the canal. It only took us a couple of minutes to reach the boulangerie on the other side of the canal in the center of town.

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