Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Last Days in France, July 28 to August 11

Tuesday morning it was out of Charleville and down the Meuse towards Belgium in the rain. The routine for the next couple of weeks would be about the same: travel for between two and three hours to a mooring in a small village or town and stay for a couple of days. Rinse and repeat. 
The Meuse in this area is in a deep valley with wooded hillsides and lots of exposed “geology.” Lots of twists and turns, too, as it descends very little.

Our first stop was Montherm√®, a small village on a big bend in the river. One “rest day” in between showers, we climbed up to a point de vue for a look down on town. Another day we took a bike ride up the beautiful new bike path along a tributary of the Meuse, the Semoy. Lots of holiday camps in the area but they were a little subdued because of the rain. One woman passed us on the street shaking hear head. “Que temps”, she grumbled. “What weather!”

And this was the view of the left bank of town from the mooring. The lookout is on that rocky outcrop in the center right of the ridgeline.

Next it was on to Revin and then Fumay with a couple of days in each. There is a nicely paved bicycle path along the river so more bike rides figured into our days. And the weather improved, too, with warm sunny days.

The very busy halte at Revin.

There is no rural or wilderness bankside mooring on this part of the river, just pontoons in the towns. Very different from further south where it’s possible to just drive in mooring stakes alongside the canal for the night. And since we’re very near the border with Belgium and the Netherlands, almost all of the boats are from those countries. It was a very rare case in Revin that the boat moored alongside Oldtimer for one night was an English couple. The night before it was a small boat from Belgium (the French speaking half) with a family on a three week holiday. They were a friendly bunch and our French and their English was pretty good after a couple of bottles of wine.
Our last stop in France was Givet. We met up again with Americans Harvey and Sandra Schwartz on Hoop Doet Leven (That’s Hope Leads Us On in Dutch.) We’d seen them on the Canal Lateral a la Loire in June and they had passed by while we were stopped in Fumay.

A very imposing Vauban designed fort watches over Givet. That’s Hoop behind Oldtimer on the quay.

But the most important reason for the stop was the giant Intermarch√®grocery store a 10 minute bike ride from the boat. Since we’d be crossing into Belgium, we needed to do some serious stocking up in the wine locker. We figure next spring when we return to Oldtimer and have a car we’ll make the drive back down to Givet to stock up on our favorite French delicacies. The store was well stocked with wines by the case. And did I say it was really big? Our kind of place!
Wednesday evening we got some beautiful light for a view across the river to the Tour Gregoire and the Mont D’Haurs, The site of a huge old fortification.

On our walk around the site of the old fort we were informed that it was mostly torn down in the 1960’s. The stones were shipped by truck to the Netherlands for dike building. Fortifications all the same...

Thursday morning we left the quay and entered our last French lock; we’ve passed through 412 this year. We entered Belgium about 10 am. 

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