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Navigating and living on the waterways of Continental Europe and news of canal developments.
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TOPIC: Closures in France

Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 16:40 #115433

  • Michael Moynihan
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Thanks Peter and everyone else who has responded to my question/concern. My point in raising it was that I wanted to make sure the VNF were aware of how many people might be in a similar situation at this time rather than at the end of the year. I would be more than happy if we could be out on the canals in June but I know there are many from outside Europe who are not going to have that as a possibility.

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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 13:57 #115427

> yes - France is the exception in that the vignette is a licence to move.

Emphasis on the last word "move". You don't need a VNF vignette if you stay put the whole year, so those who think they may not be able to use their boats in France this year, need not purchase any vignette. Those who paid the annual fee before the virus affected Europe and now think they won't move this year may have a case for asking that their money be refunded in full.

However those looking on the optimistic side and believe they will get going during the latter half of the year, may still consider the annual license worth keeping, particularly as VNF is promising so sort of reduction.

Peter

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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 13:27 #115426

I completely agree, the annual vignette is good value and inevitably involves a risk that one may end up unable to cruise. Obviously we are unhappy that our plans for 2020 have been disrupted, but this is hardly the fault of the VNF, and large numbers of peop[le are far worse affected by COVID-19. If VNF choose to offer some recompense, for example a discount next year, I would not complain, but I hope that the DBA does not feel it desirable to demand that VNF provides compensation.
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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 12:57 #115421

Following Mike's comment - yes - France is the exception in that the vignette is a licence to move. That said there are clear restrictions - maintenance closures, overnight closure as travel is usually only possible when the locks are manned, water shortages, weather - ice, snow and of course this year COVID-19 restrictions.
The annual vignette is good value compared to shorter term vignettes but that is still a gamble - you might fall ill, your boat may need to be slipped for repairs etc. and there is no guarantee that you will be able to move every day.
However VNF have said that this year's closures are exceptional circumstances and they will review their charging later in the year.
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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 12:44 #115418

Thanks, Michael, that makes it much clearer - and sorry to hear about your personal misfortune. At least you've been able to work on your boat, even if you had little choice in the matter, but sympathies to your wife on her own so long.

Checking the web, it does look as if France's borders (or maybe only its non-EU borders?) could remain closed till September or beyond. So it certainly doesn't look good for all our boating plans this year, but I guess it's 'all for the greater good'.

Returning to your question, I don't hold out much hope of better news till VNF themselves have a clearer picture. At least they're making the right noises, which is a good sign.

Pete Clark
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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 12:37 #115417

Hi Michael

Like you, I've been debating (with my fellow owners of our shared barge) what we might be doing the rest of the year. I think we've been clear in our conversation that we are probably looking at no barging in 2020 though we can continue optimistically to hope for some opportunity towards the end of the cruising season. Given the likelihood of 'lockdown', especially for those older, continuing to be at least for 12 weeks then this is probably a faint hope.

But, as Macron says, notwithstanding VNF announcing 29 May dependent on the government view on 11 May, there's going to be all kinds of issues over your host country allowing travel, the French allowing entry, continuing requirements for social distancing (and canals might be pretty good at that but will they want boats moving around from community to community?) and so on. So I'm currently planning for what we do over-winter and in 2021.

As for your question, the general principle has been debated in several places on the forum though mostly in a UK context with EA and CRT. Unless you are out of the water and not benefiting from being afloat in VNF controlled waters, then I understand the French position to be the same as the British in that you're paying to "float" (but Andy Soper may know better!) VNF has continuing costs and long-term maintenance which it still needs to deliver. We're not charged on a 'toll road' basis when we use their waters, We pay to be on them.

As Bob and Pete have said, they've already announced a review of charges at the end of all this which is, I think, better than the UK. DBA Board has not considered the issues on either side of the channel yet but, no doubt, will do at the next meeting in early June. Whilst I think there have been a handful of members who consider that the situation warrants more than that in France, most appear to think VNF is dealing with the unprecedented issues as fairly as possible.

Do you think that there is something in the VNF terms and conditions that warrants more than what has already been promised? If you have something we should read then do please pass it on.

Many thanks

Mike Gibbons
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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 12:00 #115414

  • Michael Moynihan
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Peter I would refer you to the following article www.thelocal.fr/20200413/frances-coronavirus-lockdown-what-next
The section on travel reads
"France, along with the rest of the EU, has closed its borders to travel from outside the EU (excluding the UK) and this will continue after May 11th.

France has recently brought in strict border controls in which anyone travelling from inside Europe (including the UK) needs to present a travel certificate and non-French citizens are only allowed into the country if they are permanent residents or their journey meets strict criteria of essential travel.

Macron did not mention when these conditions might be lifted."
As you ask I had travelled to France just before the lockdown while my wife is in the UK. I have stayed working on the boat for the time being. As things stand when I return to the UK I will not be able to get back into France.
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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 11:26 #115413

  • Michael Moynihan
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Hi Bob,
I am probably not explaining myself very well. My problem is even with the refund for the period that the canals have been closed I will still be paying for several months on the vignette which I cannot use this year, if the borders continue to remain closed until October. I have in good faith paid for a service that cannot be provided to me.

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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 11:21 #115412

Michael Moynihan wrote: I find like many other that the current restrictions on the French boarders mean that I will not be able to do any cruising this season. Has anybody else this problem?


To better answer your concern, it would be helpful to know where you live, Michael, or what is the reason you are prevented from doing any cruising this season, albeit perhaps for a shortened period? Are you from down under, or the Americas, or somewhere else far away? I see you are UTC +2; Africa maybe?

I have no news re the re-opening of the French (and/or other EU borders) but would assume that VNF will open the waterways hand-in-hand with an easing of restrictions in general. There are not going to be that many French citizens flooding the canals and boat hire companies depend predominantly on non-French customers for their trade.

So like Bob, I'm not sure just what representations you as an individual or DBA on members' behalf should be making to VNF, other than that they could adapt their licence fees, which they have already offered to do. Perhaps you could clarify?

Pete Clark

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Nooit Gedacht

Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 10:18 #115406

Michael Moynihan wrote: Going over the VNF website there is a FAQ section www.vnf.fr/vnf/app/uploads/2020/04/FAQ_VignettesCriseCOVID19_PRIVESV2.pdf
-snip-
I can write as an individual to the VNF about it but is this something the DBA might take up?


Thank you, Michael for posting this. Very helpful.

I confess I do not understand what you would have either DBA or yourself write to VNF about. They seem to have explained the situation very succinctly in the FAQ.

Bob

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Closures in France 21 Apr 2020 09:18 #115402

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Going over the VNF website there is a FAQ section www.vnf.fr/vnf/app/uploads/2020/04/FAQ_VignettesCriseCOVID19_PRIVESV2.pdf
Within this it states
"4 / I bought my sticker (Freedom, Leisure 30 days) before the health crisis and the implementation of containment, would I have compensation? Pleasure boating tolls of a flat nature (LIBERTE package) will be systematically recalculated at the end of the year and will be subject to a reduction proportional to the duration of the crisis period. For the other packages, the validity dates of which included the confinement period, a situation review will be carried out when the situation returns to normal."
I am not a fulltime lveaboard and having purchased a LIBERTE vignette before the lockdown I find like many other that the current restrictions on the French boarders mean that I will not be able to do any cruising this season. Has anybody else this problem? I can write as an individual to the VNF about it but is this something the DBA might take up?

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Closures in France 20 Apr 2020 18:23 #115383

Good point - I was envisioning barge-dwellers like us peacefully moving to their next season's moorage, and forgot about the possibility of holidayers thronging the waterways!

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Closures in France 20 Apr 2020 18:16 #115381

Added to which, as VNF say in their bulletin, tgey need the time from 11. May to 29. May to re-mobilise their workforce, get the system working again, etc.

Pete Clark
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Nooit Gedacht

Closures in France 20 Apr 2020 18:14 #115380

David Snider wrote: I'm relieved the canals will be opened, but I don't understand why they decided to wait until May 29. ...Anyone know what their reasoning is here?


I imagine it's for tge very good reason that the French government, like e.g. the German government, doesn't want people to get the impression that once restrictions are 'lifted', it's a free-for-all. Hence only a partial, phased loosening of the rules, so that people remain aware that Covid-19 is going to be with us for many, many months to come.

The canals may be "low-risk", comparatively speaking, but not if holiday makers turn low season into high season all at once. There will still need to be e.g. social distancing at locks, at moorings, at canalside restaurants, cafés, shops etc. etc. etc.

Pete Clark
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Nooit Gedacht

Closures in France 20 Apr 2020 18:03 #115379

I'm relieved the canals will be opened, but I don't understand why they decided to wait until May 29. Canal travel should be low-risk - it's akin to driving down a freeway, which is allowed today (if you have a good reason) and which will presumably be completely unrestricted after May 11. The commercial canals and locks are fully operational already, so I don't understand why they didn't loosen the restrictions starting May 11.

Anyone know what their reasoning is here?

-Dave

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Closures in France 20 Apr 2020 16:40 #115374

Thanks Rob. Just to add a couple of points:

Canals will be re-opened from 29. May depending on locality, circumstances etc. Check the avis à la batellerie.

VNF will recalculate licence fees already paid, leading to a reduction.

The date for the reduced licence fee, normally 31. March, will be extended, date to be announced.

Pete Clark
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Nooit Gedacht

Closures in France 20 Apr 2020 16:37 #115373

That's great news, especially for those onboard in France already. Fingers crossed for every one else.

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Closures in France 20 Apr 2020 15:50 #115370

VNF have today announced plans to reopen to leisure traffic on 29 May. Subject to government action on 11 May as announced by M. Macron last week.

Details at: www.vnf.fr/vnf/covid-19-reprise-de-la-navigation-touristique-et-de-plaisance-prevue-le-29-mai/

Regards
Rob
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Closures in France 17 Apr 2020 11:45 #115307

In the absence of any further guidance from VNF itself, I guess the answer is to refer to the French government's latest guidance/rules, VNF being a government agency. See also Paul Hayes recent post:

barges.org/forum/bar-chat/25658-french-lockdown-extended-to-may11

i.e. nothing's going to happen before 11. May earliest.

Pete Clark
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Nooit Gedacht

Closures in France 17 Apr 2020 10:20 #115298

Anyone have an update on when navigation will be opened up to pleasure craft again? I haven't seen anything from the VNF since their initial communique on 31 Mar giving 20 Apr as the planned date for opening up navigation, though I expect that date will change...

-David

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Closures in France 07 Apr 2020 14:32 #115169

Embarquer et débarquer par les airs ?
🇬🇧Learn to fly, barging in and out our boats

I rather liked that one, Andy! On to our barges, and away we fly... good old Google :whistle:

Pete Clark

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Nooit Gedacht

Closures in France 07 Apr 2020 12:25 #115167

From - ‎François Rivas‎ to SOS French Canals !
31 mins ·
> www.frequenceplusfm.com/info/nievre-interdiction-dacces-aux-berges-et-chemins-de-halage-2823.html
🇫🇷Embarquer et débarquer par les airs ?
🇬🇧Learn to fly, barging in and out our boats ?
NIEVRE: PROHIBITION OF ACCESS TO THE BANKS AND DRAWINGS
published on April 06, 2020 at 11:18 a.m.
Despite the containment measures relating to the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus and in the light of reports drawn up by the mayors of Nièvre and the police, Sylvie Houspic, prefect of Nièvre, has decided to prohibit access to the banks and towpaths of national watercourses and canals of the department, as well as to the cycle routes along them, from April 3 and for the duration of application of the government measures instituted by decree 2020 -293 March 23, 2020.

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Closures in France 26 Mar 2020 13:56 #114906

VNF Centre Bourgogne has announced indefinite closure of its network to leisure traffic

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Closures in France 18 Mar 2020 16:25 #114630

Balliol Fowden wrote: www.vnf.fr/vnf/alertes/mesures-exceptionnelles-mises-en-place-sur-le-reseau-vnf/?fbclid=IwAR0v9ZUBJC9kg2PgJtyP6bA6E5CZqaEY8LdM0hxiUgF6dCWGrKXoZNMzjI8
Balliol.


Thanks to Balliol for publishing the all-France VNF situation. Interestingly it speaks of re-apportioning plaisance vignette payments.

Translations follow, with the help of deep.com

Best wishes,

Bob

COVID-19: Exceptional measures implemented on the VNF network
At a time when the Coronavirus epidemic is plunging the country into an unprecedented crisis, in line with the measures taken by the President of the Republic and the Government, Voies navigables de France is putting in place a number of measures designed to comply with the travel restrictions requested, to safeguard the health of all and to help limit the spread of the virus.
VNF will focus its efforts on water management, a public service mission essential for the safety of people and property, especially in a particularly tense hydrological context throughout the country. The continuity of this public service mission must be ensured in the long term.

1. You're a carrier:
On the large gauge

With the exception of the Rhine, the opening up of commercial shipping facilities for the transport of goods is maintained at this stage but on a reduced daily basis, which may, moreover, differ slightly from one sector to another. These measures may evolve according to the situation.

The relevant VNF regional offices will keep you informed through the issuing of notices to skippers and via the VNF website.

As far as the Rhine is concerned, the installations remain open at this stage as usual. However, this measure may change depending on the decisions taken with the other European States, in particular after the Council of European Ministers on Wednesday 18 March.

On the small gauge

The opening of commercial shipping facilities for the transport of goods may be considered at the request of carriers to VNF's territorial management, depending on VNF's needs and capacity at that time.

These measures may change as the situation evolves.

Throughout this crisis period, the invoicing and collection of all tolls will be stopped. However, for statistical purposes, you must nevertheless continue to declare your loads on the VELI application.

2. You are a tourism professional or a pleasure boater :
Tourist and pleasure boating is suspended at this stage until April 20.

The date is likely to be modified according to the evolution of the crisis situation currently encountered by France.

The invoicing and collection of tolls have been stopped at this stage.

The flat-rate tolls for pleasure boating will be recalculated at the end of the year on a pro rata temporis basis, taking into account the crisis period and the starting dates of the flat-rates. 210 days will be postponed at the request of companies.

3. You occupy the public waterway domain :
If your use of the public waterway domain is an economic activity directly associated with the transport of goods, tourism or leisure activities on the waterways, Voies navigables de France will suspend the collection of your fees during the crisis period.

Payments are thus deferred until the end of the crisis period, at the end of which, on request and on a case-by-case basis, discounts may be decided.

These provisions do not apply to water charges or to charges linked to the occupation of a dwelling (building or vessels).

4. Exchanges with the profession :
Regular contact is maintained with the representative national professional organisations to exchange views on the progress of the measures taken.



In the face of infections, there are simple gestures to preserve your health and that of your entourage:

Wash your hands very regularly;

Cough or sneeze into your elbow;

Greet each other without shaking hands or kissing;

Use disposable tissues;

Wear a mask when you're sick;

Furthermore, make sure to maintain a minimum space of one meter between you and your interlocutors.
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Closures in France 18 Mar 2020 12:54 #114613

  • Balliol Fowden
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Closures in France 17 Mar 2020 22:09 #114583

Of course - commercial imperative.

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Andy Soper
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mv Neeltje
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Closures in France 17 Mar 2020 21:03 #114571

Capitaine at Beziers said today that rates for boats stranded at the port will be charged at winter rate maximum, or possibly waived completely, until canal reopens.

Jon Rayner

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Closures in France 17 Mar 2020 15:41 #114557

Saverne: Just spoke with the capitaine adjoint. Canal (CMR-E) closed till 20. April earliest. For lack of news to the contrary (Mairie Finance Dept. currently closed down) he assumes summer rates will apply from 01. April.

Pete Clark

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Nooit Gedacht

Closures in France 17 Mar 2020 13:04 #114554

The Port Marina at Decize is also now closed - the expectation should be for everywhere to close.

However, regarding mooring fees - can fees really be raised to Summer rates when marinas & ports etc are closed indefinitely and not providing any services?
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Closures in France 17 Mar 2020 12:35 #114552

I have just heard from Evans Marine in Migennes. Total lockdown of the yard but, apparently, they can take in supplies and parts deliveries so maintenance can continue.

Les Easom

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Closures in France 17 Mar 2020 08:58 #114545

  • Paul Hayes
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H2O in Saint Jean de Losne.

They are only taking phone and email contact with clients, no personal physical visits to any department.

Basically the business is closed to non workforce.

Paul Hayes

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Closures in France 17 Mar 2020 08:39 #114544

Hi all

as well as VNF closure for plaisanciers of course, the marinas as non indisponsibles should close too and work from home.
We have been notified that the one hosting Chocolat is doing just that, today by email(Castelsarrasin).

Regards
Chris

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Closures in France 15 Mar 2020 13:01 #114470

Please can we keep this topic to facts rather than speculation!
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Closures in France 15 Mar 2020 12:56 #114469

Alan Kerr wrote: It seems inevitable, not least to discourage movement between communities, that the vnf will close the non commercial waterways but has it actually been mentioned officially yet?


I haven't heard of any such action yet.

Bob
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Closures in France 14 Mar 2020 22:12 #114451

It seems inevitable, not least to discourage movement between communities, that the vnf will close the non commercial waterways but has it actually been mentioned officially yet?

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Closures in France 14 Mar 2020 21:42 #114450

Driving Muerren, CH to Douai, FR on Sun. Swiss have closed ski resorts until end April. Probably unecessary in Muerren as no great numbers on the slopes and no more than 50 in bars etc. Probably need to find a quiet border crossing!!

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DBA - The Barge Association
DBA - De Binnenvaartvereniging
DBA - L’Association des Péniches de Plaisance

Closures in France 14 Mar 2020 21:00 #114448

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French President Macron just announced all shops, restaurants bars, cafes, and cinemas to close. From midnight tonight Saturday 14 March.

Food shops, pharmacies, fuel stations, tabacs, banks, newspaper kiosks will remain open.

Paul Hayes
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