Last time I wrote we had heard the Meuse would be closing locks 1-8 July 4th. With no time to turn around and head back that way and the Canal des Ardennes closed in the middle, we took the only course available and headed north. (Annoyingly the VNF decided to delay the closure to the 14th and then the 19th of July so we could have made it through). However the Northern Meuse in France and Belgium is beautiful so we’re glad we have headed up this way.
After we left Charleville-Meziere we travelled with a couple of boats also heading north, an Australian couple, Peter and Dorothy on their catamaran that they have sailed from home, and a Swiss couple, Herbie and Elsie, and we joined them for dinner at a local restaurant when we stopped for the night in Bogney-sur-Meuse. Peter speaks English and German and so translated between us and the Swiss!
The next day we moved on to Revin, a lovely mooring and as there was a World Cup cricket game to watch on Alan’s ipad we stayed two days.
We were on our own again and traveled on to Vieuw-Wallerand, another very nice mooring, a well looked after town and an excellent boulangerie (priorities)!
We had a bit of a wait the next morning at the first lock which is attached to the following tunnel and as there were two boats coming from the other direction there was a delay. The éclusier, when we did get in, asked about our depth requirement as they can adjust the water if needed. All good though and no trouble going through the tunnel. We did take the canopy down, just in case. The river here is beautiful with a National Park on either side, very green and pretty.
Givet was our next port where there are pontoons on one side and a quay on the other. €9.40 a night and the capitainerie required our insurance documents which was a first. Lovely town with an excellent sunset that night.
On to Belgium! We travelled with a Danish boat this time and at the first lock we were expecting to get a free permit for this Wallonina area (that I’d read we would need) but the éclusier didn’t mention it so we assume it’s not required any more. Time will tell.
Waulsort was our first stop in Belgium, a very scenic town with the mooring in the other side of the village with a free ferry boat to connect the two areas. The little ferry is hand pulled across by the guy who operates the capitainerie and a very nice young guy he is. It started to rain later and we hunkered down for the evening amongst the surrounding green countryside. Very pleasant. The temperatures have dropped significantly thank goodness and the next morning it was actually quite cold!
The boat traffic increased as we came to Dinant, a spectacular town with it’s Collegiate church almost built into the cliff side. We moored just past the restaurants and bars on the waterfront and enjoyed a few days exploring the stunning buildings and Citadel.
Adolphe Sax the inventor of, you guessed it, the Sax was born here and there are big bright colourful saxes all around town. His home is now a Sax Museum.
We stayed in Dinant for a few days visiting the Leffe (pronounced Leff-uh) beer museum with a tasting and free Leffe glasses as a parting gift, took the cable car up the hill to visit the Citadel and enjoyed a guided tour. Next to the Citadel is a French and Commonwealth war cemetery with one lone New Zealander buried there. This city holds a very strategic site and so has seen many wars and associated carnage. It’s a beautiful city though and probably the most stunning we’ve seen this year. A must visit if you’re in Belgium.
Panorama of stunning Dinant and the Meuse river
We departed Dinant on July 10th and headed along the Meuse to Namur (or Namen). We were in company with two Belgium boats and had to wait at each lock for big commercial boats coming through. Also at one lock we waited for three other leisure boats so six in total. These locks are now 100m long and 12m wide so plenty of room for all of us.
Then it was a race for the moorings in Namur. We wanted to get close to the old part of town so tied up on the pontoons opposite the Citadel. Fairly expensive at €15 plus power and water which you must load a fob with money and pay per use plus €20 deposit. Still it was worth it. The old town is in the middle of roadworks and renovation but it was still fun to wander the streets with plenty of shops etc but the best bit was the Citadel where we were lucky to join an English language tour and really get into the tunnels and hear what was added as the centuries went by. Namur Citadel is one of four Citadels including Dinant, which we had previously visited, known as the Meuse Citadels.
We loved our time in Namur and watched the Cricket World Cup final (excellent game, well worth watching but the end was disappointing), and also met a lovely couple Russell and Gaëlle on a beautiful barge travelling with their young daughters. Gaëlle gave us some excellent information on the Belgium waterways as we only have one map and no books so that was very helpful.
It was time to move on and so on Monday July 15th we turned off the Meuse and headed onto the Sambre. This river, at least until the turn off south, is dismal. Industrial all the way along and hardly anywhere to moor for the night.
We left Namur at 8.30am and with no great options to stop we kept on going and going. 10 locks, 74km and 12 hours of boring scenery and bleak weather later we finally pulled into the SNEF Yachting marina near Seneffe. Thank goodness there was just enough room for us, we tied up and collapsed. I wouldn’t recommend that trip and in retrospect we should have turned off onto the southern end of the Sambre and stopped for the night down there but it was a experience!
We had ourselves a day off and just chilled the next day while the weather improved. Looks like warmer weather is on the way again though but hopefully not too hot. France is still suffering from low water levels and a few waterways are looking at planning closures in the next few weeks which is frustrating. Up here in Belgium all seems ok but who knows. We don’t have access to as much information here as we do in France.
Next up is the historical Canal du Centre with its four 100 year old boat lifts. Sounds fun!
Since I last wrote:
Charlesville-Meziere to Bogney-sur-Meuse
Engine hours – 2.4
Kms – 17
Locks – 3
Bogney-sur-Meuse to Revin
Hours – 3.2
Kms – 22
Locks – 4
Revin to Vieux-Wallerand
Hours – 4.3
Kms – 26
Locks – 6
Vieux-Wallerand to Givet
Hours – 2.1
Kms – 10.5
Locks – 3
Tunnels – 1
Givet to Waulsort (BELGIUM)
Hours – 3.1
Kms – 14
Locks – 3
Waulsort to Dinant
Hours – 1.5
Kms – 10
Locks – 1
Dinant to Namur
Hours – 4.3
Kms – 27
Locks – 6
Namur to Seneffe
Hours – 11.7
Locks – 10
Total so far this year:
Engine hours – 67.3
Kms – 404.7
Locks – 90
Tunnels – 3