Seneffe to Valenciennes, back into France we go.

Bonjour, we are back in France after an interesting and generally enjoyable trip through southern Belgium. The last time I wrote we were in Seneffe and planning our trip down the historical century old but recently renovated four boat lifts on the Canal du Centre.

Seneffe is a great marina with a lovely English Capitain and a small book swap bookcase! We replenished our library, making us very happy readers after having to re-read old books from last year.  

So onto the UNESCO world heritage historical boat lifts and what fun we had. The trip takes a few hours with staff operating them just for us as no other boats were around. There are two tanks or caissons which counterbalance each other, one going up and the other down. Between each lift there is a pretty canal to cruise down, very green with lifting bridges the following staff operated for us. After lift number three we stopped for lunch, attaching ourselves to an old commercial barge for an hour then onto the last lift, a total of 66.2 meters. It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun.

The two different boat lift options. The historical four lifts or the modern one. Both interesting.

Heading into the lift basin with its guillotine door.

Heading out again.

Historic boat lift number 1

The canal between lifts was filled with fluorescent green duck weed.

Pretty and easy to sail through.

One of the four bridges the staff operated for us.

Manning the ropes as we descended.

Lunch break with lift three in the background.

17m drop on each lift.

Finishing about 3pm we moored at Thieu boat harbour. The next day we biked up to the new boat lift, Strépy-Thieu, built to replace the historic four and it’s very busy with commercial boating and massive! It climbs 73m in one go, that’s over 20 stories! We spent an interesting hour in the newly opened visitors centre, learning how the lifts work and the massive job building them. We also bought 200litres of fuel off a tanker delivering fuel to the marina, at service station prices. Very handy.

Inside the Strépy-Thieu boat lifts from the viewing platform

Engine room, one on each side as there are two lifts. Only one was working when we used it.

Lift number four of the historic lift, lit up at night. So pretty!

The next day we decided to try out the Strépy-Thieu lift for ourselves. There is one on each side, operating independently of each other but only one was in operation while we were there. We lined up behind a few very large commercial barges and waited for a green light. We duly headed into the pound behind a commercial and tied up. A staff member came to take our papers and once we were at the top she brought them back with our official permis de circulation. This was the only time we needed it although we had heard we would be asked for them  

Strépy-Thieu boat lifts. One on each side. 73.15m total vertical lift.

Heading in following a commercial barge. As you can see there is plenty of room.

Tied up and ready to go while our paperwork was being sorted out. Very efficient and friendly staff.

The pound is big.

Once up to the top we cruised out, along the aqueduct then turned around and lined up for the trip back down. Great fun and so interesting. A couple of commercials even waved us on in front of them which was so nice!

Panorama as we descended.

It’s a long long way up!

After all that excitement we carried on along the canal through two deep locks (with useful floating bollards) and arrived in Mons, finding a mooring by the boat ramp. We stayed for a few days, biking into town unfortunately on a Monday when pretty much everything is closed but did enjoy a coffee in the Place and the bike ride was fun, if very hot, the temperature rising to 37°. During the next week or so this rose to 43°. Very uncomfortable in a steel boat without aircon!

Belfry of Mons, 1672 and. UNESCO site. Unfortunately for us it was a Monday and closed.

Rub the Guardhouse monkey’s head with your left hand for good luck apparently. Tick.

Mons mooring.

After Mons we headed off early one morning through commercial locks and in incredible heat to find a lovely mooring in Péronnes, on the edge of the Grand Large lake area. Lots of yachts and windsurfers to watch and we enjoyed the breeze. The yacht club has a restaurant so we tried the moule frites (mussels and fries) and meat plate plus the drink of the day, sangria  

Moules frites for dinner at the Yacht club in Peronnnes

Our lovely mooring in Personnes. The breeze from the Grand Large was welcome.

The Grand Large Péronnes

Finally it was time to head back into France and our winter mooring of Valenciennes near the border. We have booked for a year and figure we’ll do another trip before we go home but come back here. The marina is new, has security with locked gates and a Capitainerie to keep an eye on things. The city has been rebuilt after the world wars and a lot of the buildings are red brick, not something we’ve seen before. There is a tram line near the port and also a TGV train station only a 10 minute walk away. Very handy.

Maison de Prévôt, Valenciennes


Next week we’ve booked a rental car for a week and plan on visiting Le Quesnoy, a 17th century fortified town which was liberated from four years of German occupation by 14,400 New Zealand soldiers without loss of civilians but at a cost of 142 NZers. It seems to be a place for Kiwis to visit. Also on our travels we’ll be heading north back into Belgium and the city of Brugge for a couple of days. I’ve never been so we’re looking forward to that.

Luckily the weather has cooled down into the 20s so life is a lot more pleasurable! Long may it continue as the French waterways are getting very dry!

Here are the stats since I last wrote:

Seneffe to Thieu

Engine Hours: 3.3

Kms: 14

Locks : 0

Boat Lifts : 4 (66.2m total climb)

Lifting or swing bridges: 4

Thieu – Mons

Hours : 4.1

Kms : 17

Locks : 3

Boat lifts : 2 (Strépy-Thieu x2, a climb of 73.15m)

Mons – Peronnes Yacht Club

Hours : 4.9

Kms : 38

Lock : 1 (12.5m deep)

Peronnes (Belgium) – Valenciennes (France)

Hours : 4.7

Kms : 30

Locks : 4

Total year to date

Engine hours – 84.3

Kms – 503.7

Locks – 98

Tunnels – 3

Boat lifts – 6

Lifting Bridges – 4

About khodges2013

Alan and I divide our time between our apartment in Christchurch, New Zealand, and our 11.5m Dutch Cruiser, Silver Fern, on the canals in France. We started out hiring and eventually bought our boat in 2014. The two summers lifestyle is wonderful and we feel very lucky!
This entry was posted in Belgium canal boating, Canal boating in Belgium, Canal boating in France, French Canal boating, Historic boat lift Belgium, Holiday 2019, Mons, Strépy-Thieu boat lift and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Seneffe to Valenciennes, back into France we go.

  1. Lee Gossett says:

    I so enjoy tagging along with you folks. This seems like a very high tech adventure on this voyage. Keep the experiences coming. Lee


  2. Nikki Woolley says:

    Always interesting Karen!



    Hi Karen and Hodgie – if you want to see red bricks head to Collonges la Rouge or head back to my post dated 03May – gorgeous and such a change of the grey!! Enjoy xx


  4. Stella Woolley says:

    Thanks Karen. What amazing boat lifts, it must have been fun. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just trying to understand the boat lifts trip… You went up in the four and then down in the modern one? So you did a loop? Anyway looked fascinating. Just read your Bruges piece – packed full of interesting buildings and quaintness isn’t it. Chocolate, lager and architecture – perfect! 😊 Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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