2014 France

Aigues Mortes, France

The remarkably original walled town of Aigues-Mortes has a very busy tourist trade and is part of the canal gateway to the Mediterranean, connected by two branches from the Canal du Rhône à Sète which passes to North of the town.

To the South is Le Grau-du-Roi that connects the waterway to the Mediterranean.

The name of Aigues-Mortes comes from the Occitan Aigas Mortas or stagnant water.

The port of Aigues-Mortes was used as a departure point for Crusaders.  Later the development of the salt pans caused the channel to the sea to silt up, solved by dredging the way to Le Grau-du-Roi and the connection to the Canal du Rhône à Sète.

One of the unspoiled streets with some excellent restaurants, but beware the big restaurants in the main square!

The Tower of Constance (above) was finished in 1254 and once housed 45 Knights Templar as prisoners of Philip the Fair, though several may have questioned his name.  The word Fair referred to his complexion, not the acts of brutality and dishonesty seizing the Templar’s assets and burnings at the stake for many of their number.

Aigues Mortes, France
Frontignan, France

Frontignan kindly allows three days free mooring and this enables you to spend more in the town, especially at the bar run by a weight lifting friend of Geoff Capes.

The Canal du Rhône à Sète separates the town and Frontignan Plage. Further West the canal enters the Étang de Thau which in turn leads to the Canal du Midi and the way to Bordeaux and Biscay.

Marseillan is on the Étang de Thau and the whole town is wi-fi equipped.  This is quite a contrast to the fact that no houses have been built in the town centre since the 17th Century.

Noilly Prat has been produced here since 1853 as the local grapes and wines are especially suitable.

The clean water of the Étang is suitable for shellfish farming and oysters and mussels are farmed here, producing nearly one tenth of France’s consumption.

Marseillan, France
Canal du Midi, France

The Canal du Midi is lined with plane trees many of which are unfortunately dying from canker. VNF is replacing them with resistant trees and with other species. Apparently the disease arrived during WWII in the American sycamore timber that American ammunition boxes were made from.

Around 1810 the canal was lined with elm, ash and plane trees that replaced the Italian poplars. During the last half of the 19th Century most of the the elm trees died from disease. Part of an endless cycle it seems.

The new plantings are a new type of sycamore that is trade marked Platanor and are microchipped!  It sounds as though the owner can be found if they stray.

VNF are also ensuring that a monoculture will not be repeated using other varieties.

Carcassonne has a fascinating history and is now World Heritage site. Google and Wikipedia can supply you with full details much better than I.


Carcasonne, France
Carcasonne Lock, France

The Canal du Midi has “Baroque” style locks, curved to strengthen the walls as at the time of construction it was the only way to prevent the locks collapsing inwards.

Opened in 1681 and built for Louis XIV by Engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet principally to transport goods from Languedoc and the area without having to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar saving several weeks on passage and unencumbered by Barbary pirates and Spanish taxes.

The supply of water to the highest part of the canal was from the River Laudot, a tributary of the Tarn and still causes problems in years of drought.

Northbound again and the street art of Avignon is quite eyecatching.

Avignon lies on the Petit Rhone, bypassed by the Grand Rhone and large river cruise barges dock here.

Motor racing fans will appreciate that Jean Alesi was born here in 1964 and philosophy students should remember that John Stuart Mill died in 1873 and is buried here.

Avignon mural, France
Festival d'Avignon, France

Avignon festival, theatres and street shows entertain children large and small.

Every July since 1947 the Festival d’Avignon has been held and is now the longest running arts festival in France.  Almost 1000 shows are performed here.


Ecluse de Gervans made a handy overnight stopping point.

Compagnie Nationale du Rhône runs the 19 hydro electric power stations on the river as well as wind and solar plants.  14 of these are wide gauge locks South of Lyon.

The dams improve the navigation as well as generate electricity and each has a lock 190m x 11.45m with floating bollards.  The lock keepers are superb and life jackets must be worn in the locks.

Ecluse de Gervans, France
Lyon, France

The beautiful city of Lyons is held to be the gastronomic centre of France.

Auguste and Louis Lumière invented cinematography here, patented in 1895.

Interpol and Euronews are headquartered here and the city scores very highly both nationally and internationally for innovation and liveability.


No, not a sit down strike. The crowd is patiently waiting for sunset and the Bastille Day fireworks.

The city is the centre of sausage dishes such as rosette lyonnaise and andouillette (beware the latter unless you are a connoisseur).

Bastille Day, Lyon, France
Lock at Lyon, France

Will there be room for both of us? A cruise barge follows us into the lock with very little room to spare.

Trévoux is a pleasant Halt Nautique with an inland holiday resort feel and a small traditional village.

Hard to believe today that this small town was once a leading town in the diamond industry.

Trévoux, France
Toul Cathedral, France

Across the Vosges and back to Toul for the winter, again.

The cathedral of Saint Étienne once more provides a landmark for the homeward bound yacht on its way to wintering here.

Beaucaire, Aigus Mortes, Frontignan, Marseillan, Agde, Frontignan, Beaucaire, Avignon, Ecluse Chateauneuf, Ecluse de Gervans, Lyons, Trevoux, Montmerle-sur-Saone, Tournus, Chalon-sur-Saone, Auxonne, Savoyeux, Port Scey, La Rochere, Fontenoy-le-Chateau, Forges d’Uzmain, Girancourt, Epinal, Charmes, Richard Menil, Toul. 

Cimarron Voyage 2014, France