Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Joinville to St. Dizier, July 21-26

By now we had heard that there was a very real possibility that the Loing and Briare Canals were going to close in mid to late August because of the water shortage. We had already made a deposit on the winter mooring in Briare and closing those canals would make it impossible to get there. While we weren’t going to have to travel sunup to sunset, we weren’t going to be able to dawdle too much if we wanted to be in a position to make a mad dash down the canals before their closure.

Also, there was another mini heat wave on the way. Temperatures were going to be well over 100º F on Wednesday and Thursday so we wanted to make sure we had some shade. We turned to one of our favorite navigation tools, Google Earth. Using the satellite view we were able to scan the canal ahead and find the places where there were trees. We found what looked like a suitable spot near the town of St. Dizier and planned on Wednesday and Thursday nights there.
Meanwhile the weather was pleasant so we were able to enjoy the peaceful countryside around the still very small Marne River.

Corn in the foreground 
and the sunflowers are just beginning to bloom in the back.

Our next stop was Joinville. While there is a municipal halte, the Hotel de La Vinaigrerie had a quay right out front and for a nominal €6 a night they have a very nice mooring, probable the nicest mooring we used on the whole canal. We stayed there to visit the Joinville Chateau.
According to the local legend, Claude of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, built the lower chateau (they lived in the upper one, now just a ruin) between 1533 and 1546 for his wife, Antoinette of Bourbon, as an act of contrition after a brief love affair. It was really just an entertainment venue meant to enhance the prestige of the Duke, who was very ambitious. In 1856 a French industrialist bought the palace and grounds and restored it. It became a property of the Haute-Marne General Council in 1978 and is now used a venue for cultural events.

The gardens are very impressive.

We also wandered along the Quai des Peceaux, a non-navigable arm of the Marne River that cuts through town.

and visited the Église Notre Dame to view what is supposedly Saint Joseph’s belt.

Tuesday morning we set off toward the shade and Wednesday just before lunch we found it. Our view from overhead was confirmed. The St. Dizier town moorings were awful, just a bank next to a big parking lot with not a hint of a tree or blade of grass, big street lights and asphalt. Just a little further on was a a section of the canal with large trees on both sides, providing much needed shade for most of the day. (Although there is a very active military airfield close by. Our stay was accompanied by the roar of jet fighters doing touch and go landings!) We put out our mooring stakes, got out the big fan and prepared for the warm up.

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