Exploring new environs, the Canal des Ardennes

Leaving Charleville-Meziere in our wake, we cruised up the Meuse, turning right into the Canal des Ardennes. This canal was created in 1831 and enlarged to carry larger 38 meter barges in 1846. Although it mainly carries pleasure boats these days, it remains in the national priority network and provides a connection between the valley of the Meuse and the River Aisne. The canal is 88 km in length with 44 locks, including a flight of 27 locks and a tunnel.

First night on the canal was at Point a Bar. This is a noteworthy stop for most bargees in order to replenish the fuel supply before we hit the wilds of France
5 locks and a tunnel to the next overnight stop at Le Chesne
Then it was onto the next challenge, 27 locks in just 9kms. We decided to call it a day at lock 19 at the pretty village of Neuville Day. No facilities here, not even a boulangerie which is unheard of in this part of the world.

We breath a sigh of relief once we had completed the last lock of the flight, only to be faced by a canal full of weed. Pineapple weed or wild camomile is a native of North America and first appeared in the canals of northern France in 1861. It spread rapidly displacing the native weed. Where there is little maritime traffic, particularly commercial traffic it clogs the waterway slowing progress. Imagine driving your boat through a sea of mud and you might get some idea what it is like cruising through this weed.

Weed on the locks doors
Even the ducks contemplate before diving into a canal full of weed
Meeting another Piper barge struggling through the weed
The advantage of having a travelling companion is you can share photos!
We did see one commercial. He was moving at the mind boggling speed of 3km through the weed
The weed cutter is employed to try and control the weed. The man employed to drive this vehicle could certainly never look forward to an early retirement.
No it’s not a green mountain. Weed ripped from the canal and deposited on the bank.

With our cruising speed down to about 6kms we made 2 more stops along the canal before we reached our turn off onto the Canal de l’Aisne a la Marne.

There was a lot more to see at Asfeld, our next stop. With a colourful history Asfeld was once the site of a fortified residence built in the Middle Ages. The chateau survived many assaults over the centuries and was purchased by a count in 1671. This count was responsible for building a new church in 1780, the church of St. Didier. It is a most unusual monument built in bricks and built in the baroque style. Its walls do not have a single straight line. The bricks were fired separately, convex or concave depending on where they were to be set. The overall shape is that of a viola.

Chapel of Notre Dame de La Pitie. Another monument in Asfeld
This was the site of the chateau in Asfeld which was dismantled during the French Revolution

Leaving the Canal de Ardennes our wake we turned left at Berry au Bac towards Reims and champagne. And what a blessing, no weed!

3 responses to “Exploring new environs, the Canal des Ardennes”

  1. What a wonderful history lesson you present. Love all the photos and quirky notes. Sounds so relaxing. Thank you


  2. Was the weed deliberately introduced, or accidentally? Is it edible??


    1. Introduced from the US and no not edible


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