Monday, 10 September 2018

The magic of the Loire

We hold our breath as this long summer continues. September has heralded autumn and a welcome drop in temperatures to the very comfortable high 20s. The Loire valley adds to the magic as we cruise slowly northwards.

A few of these shallow draft traditional Loire river boats have been preserved  
During our stay in Nevers we were exited to watch the World Boules championships being played out in front of a live audience of several hundred people.

A tense moment during the final match televised across France

Complete with cheerleaders

The round lock at Lorrains
Not far downstream from Nevers we find this curious round lock. It is no longer in use, but originally it permitted full length barges to swing round and drop down from the canal level to the Loire river, and slip into the flowing river, bow forward.

It is that time of year, when we scour the hedgerows for blackberries.
Add sugar, boil and bottle

 Ending up with this lot.

  Walnut trees line the canal, ripening just now and free for the taking. Crew Alan and Nicky help the harvest.
Antiope makes an ideal platform for the harvest

On a rare dull day we crossed high above the Loire on the aqueduct designed with the help of Gustave Eiffel and completed in 1896 to reach Briare. This aqueduct replaced a perilous river crossing involving locking down to the river level winching the barges across and locking back up on the other side.

We approach the kilometer long aqueduct

Safely across, without touching the sides!

These old locks once let barges out onto the Loire for the crossing to Briare  

 The river today is 1.5m below its normal level, but in times of flood (Crue) the waters have even submerged these locks.

Flood level markings on the bridge, high above the lock itself

Briare and the final lock into the old town basin 

The old town basin at Briare and part of the old canal system

We spend a few days in Briare before heading up along the Briare canal towards Paris.