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Old 10-04-2014, 07:09 PM   #1
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Scenes from France

From my just-concluded month in France. Expand the photos for captions.

The rivers in France tend to have a lot of weirs on them for flood control and also (at one time) for power generation. The vessels get past the weirs via a lock set at one side or the other of the weir.

Many of the commercial barges on the rivers in Europe are operated by liveaboard families or crews. So you'll see many of these barges, even the newest ones, carrying one or two cars on the cabin roofs. These are craned ashore when the boat is moored up.
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:30 PM   #2
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More shots. Again, expand the photos for captions.

The poorly stitched together panorama shows the river the kayakers were on.

The city of Albi on the Tarn River is where the French explorer Jean-Francois de La Pérouse was from. Our boat is named for him. The cathedral on the hill is the largest brick building in the world, and its interior is one of the most stunning in France. The lock and powerhouse at the end of the weir on the river are no longer used.

The Sapeurs Pompiers barge on the Seine is the base for the branch of the Paris Fire Department that guards the river. A big part of their job is dive work.

The railings on the bridge in the last photo are solid with padlocks. Couples, mostly tourists, sign them, lock them to the bridge or other locks already on the bridge, and throw the key into the river. While it started out as a cute tradition, it has become a hazard because of the weight of the locks, which are in multiple layers on the railings. The city cuts them off periodically but it's not long before the bridge is covered again. This "tradition" has now spread to other bridges and sections of railing along the river to the point where it's no longer cute, it's ugly and a pain in the ass (to quote the sentiment of the citizens of Paris).
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Old 10-04-2014, 09:18 PM   #3
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Very nice, Marin. Thank you.
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:10 AM   #4
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some lovely photos.

There is a series on uk Tv about barge trips, yesterday was a program on French canals: very interesting too.

Great Canal Journeys - Channel 4
( you may need to connect to a uk VPN to play the videos; or find them on youtube)

Well worth watching the rest of the series which covers the uk canal system.
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:14 AM   #5
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Yes, great pics Marin. I am scheming re the possibility of taking a prolonged break over there when I retire, and maybe hire a canal boat for at least part of that. I would imagine most of the locks on those rivers and canals would be manned and not ones you operate yourselves like in the UK..?
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Old 10-05-2014, 11:59 AM   #6
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Nice shots all. Thanks for posting them. How long were you over there? Did you travel on any of those rivers?
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Old 10-06-2014, 06:00 PM   #7
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Yes, great pics Marin. I am scheming re the possibility of taking a prolonged break over there when I retire, and maybe hire a canal boat for at least part of that. I would imagine most of the locks on those rivers and canals would be manned and not ones you operate yourselves like in the UK..?
I'm told most of the locks in France/Germany are manned or automated. However, the locks I saw on the Lot River were manually operated as shown in the photo.
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Old 10-06-2014, 06:06 PM   #8
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Nice shots all. Thanks for posting them. How long were you over there? Did you travel on any of those rivers?
We were there for a month. We did not travel on any rivers other than a night tour boat on the Seine in Paris. Since 1990 my wife and I have been running narrowboats on vacation every other year in the UK. Based on what we've seen of the European river and canal system, particularly in France, we much prefer the canals and boats in the UK.

We are currently planning another couple of narrowboat trips to coincide with saltwater boating trips in the UK. We like the do-it-yourself aspect of canal boating in the UK, and we really like the boats and the canals themselves.

Aso, while they generally look pretty muddy, the canals in the UK are MUCH cleaner than the canals in France, which seem to also double as the canal system's sewer system, at least judging by the smell.
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Old 10-07-2014, 05:21 PM   #9
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"From my just-concluded month in France. Expand the photos for captions."

This is something which I would dearly love to do. Can anyone give a rough estimate as to what it would cost (excluding airfare of course) to do about a month cruise like this?
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Old 10-07-2014, 05:30 PM   #10
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I can only comment on the cost of narrowboats in the UK as that's all we've ever done. The typical price structure is per week, although a few companies will, or used to, allow a few days' cruise on requesrt.

The prices in the UK are on a bell curve, with the lower prices being in the spring, fall, and winter (for those companies who hire their boats in the winter), and the highest prices are in the summer.

We always go in May as this is in the lower price period, but more importantly because the kids are still in school so we are not into the family vacation season. Much less crowded. And also because spring in England is a stunningly beautiful time of year in our opinion.

These days, the weekly rate for a good-quality hire boat from a reputable firm (with canal boats, you very much get what you pay for) runs about USD$ 1,000-#1,200 a week in the "off-season." In the summer season this can increase by half or in some cases even twice that for the same boat.

I would imagine that the situation is similar on the continent. The boats are bigger there, however, and there may be user fees on the canals for locks and things, I don't know. So it's conceivable the cost of a good boat in France, for example, is significantly more than a good narrowboat in the UK.

All the companies that hire canal boats have pretty signficant web presences. So you can get on line, find a boat hire company in the area your interested in cruising, and their site will describe all their boats and give you the price schedule for the coming year.
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