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Navigating and living on the waterways of Continental Europe and news of canal developments.
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TOPIC: Canal de la Meuse

Canal de la Meuse 21 Jul 2020 12:06 #117472

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The Meuse is closed from Remilly to Mouzon for weed removal work. It should re open on the 1st August, at least to Verdun/ Belleray. Above there looks a bit iffy at the moment due to water shortages. There is plenty of lovely cruising downstream of Remilly though. The bridges at Verdun give 3.5 m headroom, but you are on a river, so you need to take that into consideration. Having said that, in times of flood on the Meuse, they tend to open the barrages to maintain the headroom, though giving very fast currents and this may be what is contributing to silting problems. Some serious dredging has been undertaken along the whole canal this year and depths of 1.8m assured for most sections (compared to 1.6 last year). This applies also to the pounds at Troussey (1-5), though they are closed due to lack of water at the moment until further notice.
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Canal de la Meuse 19 Jul 2020 18:11 #117444

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It's so disappointing that so much of the north eastern section in France is in such poor condition that it's effectively derelict. I travelled that way early last year in anticipation of it closing later through lack of water (which it did), but the banks were in places so eroded that only a foot of remaining bank prevented the canal emptying itself into adjacent lower fields.

Weed was a problem but not too serious then and, as Jonathan points out, many of the zapper sensing posts were very difficult to see or communicate with. and canal-sign signs were overgrown.

After the vast expenditure on getting the Arzviller incline plane back in service, it's almost criminal that the waterway is effectively closed soon after if travelling from Strasbourg. I suppose if you wanted to do the Saar / Mosel loop, it may be possible from the Strasbourg end - though how do you get there in the first place?

Peter

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Canal de la Meuse 19 Jul 2020 15:08 #117441

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Thanks Jonathon, diabolical isn't it...really the 3 most easterly routes to France are out - the Sambre too of course.

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Canal de la Meuse 19 Jul 2020 07:28 #117429

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I can confirm that the limit is Sedan. The weed problem is horrendous and makes passage very difficult. This major route seems to have been neglected for years to the point that some of the auto lock posts are totally hidden by undergrowth over years of poor maintenance. Such a shame. Watch Verdan for bridge height as the new bridges are lower than previous units and no heights are indicated. Maintenance is so poor that directional signage has disappeared behind foliage or fallen into the canal. Otherwise the Ardennes is lovely. Back to Belguim and a rethink for this year.

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Canal de la Meuse 15 Jul 2020 14:27 #117331

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Thanks again Bob.
Would you believe I actually got a reply to an email to the main VNF address (albeit in French!) and yes that appears to be the end of it there this year.
Not enough rain yesterday for Verdun I wouldn't think so the turnaround looks our only option....apart from a truck and a large crane!!

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Canal de la Meuse 15 Jul 2020 14:07 #117329

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Michael Fewster wrote: Hi Bob
You must have more luck than me with VNF...1)they don't answer their phone...2) their email address bounces back!!!
cheers


Sorry you are experiencing difficulty getting through to Charleville Mezieres, Michael.

I never recommend emailing as I have had little success that way unless I am writing to someone by name and whom I know. I have just phoned CM twice (the second time because my battery ran out of juice during the first). Got through straight away, as I did the other day.

What I learned is the work on l'écluse de Neuville Day in the Montgon flight is due to start next month and they expect the canal to be open next year, March/April. A bit of a wait for you, sorry. Looks like a retracing of your steps is necessary if you want to go south in France.

As a matter of interest, the avis that John referred to is for a different stretch of the Canal des Ardennes, namely the summit pound between Le Chesne and the tunnel. Here is the text of that avis:

Users of the waterway are informed that navigation between locks 1 on the Aisne side and lock 5 on the Meuse side will continue to be stopped due to insufficient water resources (attainment of the reserved water supply flows).
A future notice will inform on the evolution of the situation.


Looking at the map of the "Etat des reserves d'eau" on vnf.fr shows how low the Bairon reservoir actually is. See screenshot attached:



Best wishes,

Bob[/u]

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Canal de la Meuse 15 Jul 2020 09:53 #117325

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Thanks Sharon(and Bob previously), yes they're the details I have - tried phone 7 times at all hours over 2 days, no answer and the email just says invalid address!! I know I have been told several times they are hard to get to and I'm certainly finding that.
Unfortunately the VNF has followed the UK handbook over the virus time - just stop everything instead of continuing work in the outside environment and workers not close to each other - absolute overkill like a lot of manufacturing, building etc. At least the Europe lockkeepers have been back for a fair while unlike the Thames and maybe elsewhere where they're still not all back I don't think (not that I now care I gave up on them, of course after buying a registration that allowed us to have no services except self operating).
Apologies Ed, this may now be getting to comment! I'll stop.

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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 22:45 #117316

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Michael,
I don't know what email etc you are using, but if you go to the vnf.fr website, under Nos Implantations, you will find the names, street addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of the main VNF sectional offices. They also list the department numbers they cover, and the name of the major waterway. I suppose you are looking for This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 03 24 33 20 48, located in Charleville-Mezieres. FYI the lock problem on the Ardennes canal is not something simple like a lock gate or such. The entire lock collapsed in a flood and the whole thing needs to be rebuilt. Engineer studies, impact studies, bids, contracts etc all took a while. Probably longer than they should have but such is government. It was supposed to be worked on this year but, COVID. Hopefully next year because an alternative to the Meuse looks more and more necessary. I think various COVID restrictions have left VNF more short of staff than usual so perhaps you could cut them a little slack just now.

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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 21:29 #117315

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Look at Bulletin d'information of 10th July and Avis FR2020/02588. Worth subscribing to the Avis for the batellerie from the VNF. It is closed until further notice.

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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 18:48 #117305

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Michael,

The Canal des Ardennes was hopefully going to be open for this season, namely by May 2020. COVD19 has clearly impacted that and I have seen a post on Facebook recently from someone who said they expect to have it open by 2021.

I suggest you keep trying to get through to the main office in Charleville Mezieres, number in my post yesterday as well as the map with details of all the UTIs. Avoid lunchtime as you will not get a reply at that time. I got through first time.

Good luck and post here what you find.

Best wishes,

Bob

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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 16:38 #117297

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Hi Bob
You must have more luck than me with VNF...1)they don't answer their phone...2) their email address bounces back!!! What an operation, lucky they're not a real business!
I'm just trying to find out, seeing the Meuse appears definitely out, if they are any hope at all of actually fixing their broken lock on the Ardennes and at least get one route open.
Any other tips on how to find out with this operation?
cheers

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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 10:08 #117288

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Yes, it was a real flavour of yesteryear. The boat needed a thorough clean when you got out the other side and the countryside was appreciated as a contrast. The building on the right bank in Balliol's pic has been torn down. I expect it will be some time before bijou residences are built there though!

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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 09:23 #117286

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We passed through Charleroi many times in the eighties and nineties when all the rolling mills etc. were in full swing. Clouds of steam everywhere, the clanging of machinery, glowing strips of red hot steel visible in the rolling mills, with all the concurrent barge traffic all around, loading massive coils of steel and discharging raw materials and coal. The whole thing was very reminiscent of the UK Birmingham Canal Navigations, where in places one felt one was actually touring the steelworks by boat! As Tam once said you wondered what the atmosphere was doing to your paintwork. It was certainly not a place for a quiet stop, and the water was filthy black, but this was the heavy industry that the waterways were all about once, and it is sad that it is all disappearing. The people were all very friendly, watching and waving from the dark depths of the mills. The lock keeper actually offered us water once from the commercial's tap at the lock but we had to politely decline having looked at the environs of the tap!

Our son-in-law was born and grew up just down the road and it never did him any harm (neither the place nor the water!).

Balliol.
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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 00:38 #117285

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Peter Cawson wrote: > I certainly wouldn't choose to go through Charleroi any more times than absolutely necessary!!!

I really like travelling through Charleroi, although it's lost its hellish charm now the blast furnaces and piles of flaming slag have gone. I first went through in 2008 when the noise, smell, dirt, heat and bustle were memorable. Now one only has the miles of wonderful graffiti to view as one passes this sadly derelict steelworks.

Peter

Marchienne by the park is really rather nice in a run down sort of way, only place in Belgium where we have found shops open on a Sunday and once got a haircut for 8 euros. We met a guy who was being paid by tourists to give guided walking tours of the industrial landscape complete with abandoned metro station where they ran out of money before completing it, trams now appear to run along what should have been a metro. Further on The upper Sambre is exceptionally nice go now whilst it is quiet efore they reopen the through route.
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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 00:36 #117284

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A word for the Canal du Nord. It will be the quicker route if getting to the south sooner rather than later is your objective. It is also actually quite pretty in most places, especially in the upper reaches. Fewer stopping places with towns attached, or halte nautiques with services. Parking is often above or below a lock. Pull all the way to one end or the other to make room for the commercials who will appear along about lock closing time. (They will leave again very early in the AM!) Most commercials are good drivers and nice professional people who are often easier to share a waterway with than some drivers of small, highly powered motor cruisers who don't seem to know or care about the rules. Because of the commercial traffic you shouldn't find any problems with weed, and lock breakdowns are quickly attended to. The tunnel is an interesting experience and I much prefer it to the Riqueval tunnel. Have a good trip whichever you head next. She said, enviously. Sigh.
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Canal de la Meuse 14 Jul 2020 00:05 #117283

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> I certainly wouldn't choose to go through Charleroi any more times than absolutely necessary!!!

I really like travelling through Charleroi, although it's lost its hellish charm now the blast furnaces and piles of flaming slag have gone. I first went through in 2008 when the noise, smell, dirt, heat and bustle were memorable. Now one only has the miles of wonderful graffiti to view as one passes this sadly derelict steelworks.

Peter
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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 19:14 #117280

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Michael Fewster wrote: While I'm here any comments on the St Quentin and Nord canals to get south?


Michael,

You will find a dichotomy of opinions here on this. Having navigated both many times I would say if you prefer to drive on motorways choose the Canal du Nord. If, on the other hand, you like meandering country roads go for the Canal de Saint Quentin. My preference is for the CSQ.

Best wishes,

Bob
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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 19:01 #117279

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Seems to be getting worse now with the weed issue!
I agree, the Meuse is very pleasant we've done it before and also North up through Maastricht (great city) and beyond through most of Netherlands which of course is also extremely nice and not many locks, not that I mentioned trying to avoid locks - that's an impossibility for inland travellers!
We've also done 75% of Belgium so were just giving a canal we'd somehow missed over the years a go, but maybe a no-go still!
While I'm here any comments on the St Quentin and Nord canals to get south?

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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 18:04 #117278

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The Avis à la batellerie that Ian referred to and which John had previously posted was time limited to 11.07.20. So I telephoned Charleville Mezieres and was put through to the pc who kindly informed me the number of the latest Avis, the text of which I quote here:

FR/2020/03122
Nancy, mardi 7 juillet 2020
Insuffisance de la ressource en eau Meuse amont secteur de Commercy
Arrêt de navigation
- à partir du 11/07/2020 à 19:00
o Canal de la Meuse (ex Canal de l'Est, branche Nord)
entre les pk 260.769 (écluse 6 de Commercy) et pk 272,404 (écluse 1 de Troussey)
Commentaire :
En raiosn de la baisse des débits d'alimentation de la meuse canalisée, mesdames et messieurs les usagers de la voie d'eau sont informés de l'arrêt de la navigation entre les écluses n°1 et n°6 à partir du 12 juillet 2020 à 19h00. Un prochain avis avertira de l'évolution de la situation.
Service(s) à contacter :
UTI Meuse Ardennes, 2, avenue de Montcy-Notre-Dame, 08000 CHARLEVILLE-MEZIERES
Tél : 03 24 33 20 48 - Fax : 03 24 59 13 12
Arrondissement Environnement Maintenance Exploitation, 169, rue de Newcastle, CS 80062, 54036 NANCY CEDEX
Tél : 03.83.95.30.01 - Fax : 03.83.95.30.02
Date limite d'affichage :
Prochain avis.
Chef d'Arrondissement
Francois HOFF
UTI Meuse Ardennes
2, avenue de Montcy-Notre-Dame
08000 CHARLEVILLE-MEZIERES
Tél : 03 24 33 20 48 - Fax : 03 24 59 13 12


I also learned of another stoppage near Sedan at Remilly where weed is so bad they need a fortnight to remove it. An Avis for that will be published tomorrow.

Personally, I agree with John's suggestion of carrying on and enjoying the Meuse and the Canal de la Meuse and, if you have to, turn back if and where necessary. Waterways are always different in the other direction. And, you never know there may be a couple of weeks of deluge somewhere upstream of Verdun. I certainly wouldn't choose to go through Charleroi any more times than absolutely necessary!!!

Cheers,

Bob
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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 17:38 #117277

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> Why would you wish to avoid locks?

No reason apart from the description of the "long mindless" run the poster had recently endured. Getting to his French destination requires a lot more of this and will take many weeks to get to where he wants to cruise. I was suggesting the alternative of going north where progress can be made more quickly. As he's already in Namur, the decision needs to be made there. Instead of counting locks, he would be counting bridges that have to be raised!

I enjoy locks but there's no denying that they hinder progress if you have a destination in mind.

Peter

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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 17:13 #117276

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Ian McCauley wrote: The Avis is referenced in this post Bob:
https://barges.org/discussion-forum/waterways-continental-europe/25631-canal-de-la-meuse#117148
Cheers, Ian

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Catharina Elizabeth


Many thanks for this, Ian.

Since this discussion is carrying on in the referred topic, <Canal de la Meuse> I will move the posts here to that topic.

Bob
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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 17:08 #117275

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Why would you wish to avoid locks? It's maybe understandable with the manual locks in the UK if you are physically unfit, but not on continental waterways.

Tam

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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 17:01 #117274

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Or you could just go north.

The Netherlands offers splendid cruising and it's quick to get there in view of the relative freedom of locks. You mention the Bourgogne - that one canal has more locks than the entire Dutch system. Namur to say Leeuwarden is possible though as few as 14 locks and takes about 45 engine hours. No water problems either.

Peter
PS - Apologies if you've already explored NL.

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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 16:17 #117273

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No need to turn round just yet, unless you have some rendezvous in France somewhere. You can have many weeks of delightful cruising up as far as St.Mihiel (or a bit beyond) and back again. Lovely scenery, peacful moorings as well as some bigger towns. Then there are parts of Belgium you may not have done. Many canals in France are going to be difficult this year unless the monsoon sets in early.

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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 16:05 #117272

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Thanks, well not really, as that definitely takes out both southern routes from Namur. I dare say we won't be the only ones impacted there,and just as we'd done the long, mindless run through Charleroi and surrounds, I guess we get to retour it - can't wait!
Let's hope the southern routes from back in the centre hold their water and we may eventually get to the Bourgogne (probably as it dries up).

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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 14:19 #117271

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The Avis is referenced in this post Bob:
https://barges.org/discussion-forum/waterways-continental-europe/25631-canal-de-la-meuse#117148
Cheers, Ian

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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 13:44 #117269

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I can find no Avis à la batellerie for this waterway for this year, the latest being a series of Avis from July 2019 to the end of October 2019 for the section between pk 247,997 (écluse 8 Han sur Meuse) et pk 272,404 (écluse 1 de Troussey).

Maybe Sharon can enlighten us on when she saw the Avis for Verdun please.

Further to what John has written may I suggest you call the main office in Charleville Mezieres at: Tél : 03 24 33 20 48

When wanting to contact a particular section of VNF, I find it useful to use the following map with details of all the DTs and UTIs:

www.vnf.fr/vnf/app/uploads/2020/01/Carte_du-réseau_et_des_interlocuteurs_VNF_décembre_2019.pdf

Best wishes,

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Canal de la Meuse 13 Jul 2020 07:57 #117258

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The best thing is to phone Verdun and ask about the situation.

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Canal de la Meuse 12 Jul 2020 21:02 #117254

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That is my understanding from the Avis I have received from VNF. I don't keep them so I can't direct you to a specific avis. But I believe they went to a short window of opening at locks upstream and downstream of the general Verdun area to let boats out, prior to a closure starting 12 July. You should be able to find the exact information on the vnf website. You will have to go around via Escaut/Grand Gabarit and either Canal du Nord or St Quentin, I think. If they were to get a lot of rain, there might be a re-opening but there have been closures on the Meuse for the last couple of years so it doesn't seem like waiting around would be fruitful.

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Canal de la Meuse 12 Jul 2020 20:32 #117252

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I have just been told that the Canal de la Meuse is closed at Verdun due to lack of water! Can anyone with confirm?
This would appear to close off any access to central France from Namur.
Anyone have any info on this scenario?

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Canal de la Meuse 07 Jul 2020 17:39 #117148

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Today they have announced closure of locks 1-6 from 11th July evening. Commercy lock will be passable at certain times only (1 hour morning and evening) and entry for downstream boats at no 1 prohibited from today evening (7th july). See AvisFR 2020/03123

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Canal de la Meuse 26 Jun 2020 13:27 #116932

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It's on our list to explore downstream from Verdun as more boats come on line, with the option for this stretch to extend boat length up to 47m as the locks are bigger. They just need to keep it going another 2-3 years!

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Canal de la Meuse 26 Jun 2020 08:20 #116927

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Dredging is stated to be completed by 1st July at the upper end of the canal and therefore provide a through route. (Max draught 1.6m I think) However water reserves are of concern, so if you plan to do that route, better go for it as sooner rather than later
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Canal de la Meuse 02 Apr 2020 16:17 #115082

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Sadly there haven't been any commercial boats up or down there for the last 3 years. (Info from Verdun centre) I was with a couple of the last ones that were carrying bankside pilings for the St. Quentin canal which they told me were "too long to go by road"!
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Canal de la Meuse 02 Apr 2020 15:18 #115079

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I just received a kind message from Adrien Quivoron of VNF, promising to get back to us as soon as he has information from the staff on the Canal de la Meuse. You are assimilated to "operators". Honestly, like the regretted Guy Toye, and Bob and others, I keep insisting on the importance of taking into consideration all users and not just the professionals, but they are strangely formated to consider our community as just a group of individual users, with nothing like the same sense of urgency as for companies that sell a product. Perhaps I should come back to VNF and point out that you are the biggest "operator" on the French waterways by number of licensed vessels! Of course VNF are looking forward to stage 4 of the crisis and the return to "a normal life". (We are in the middle of stage 3.)
Original text
…nous sommes en train de nous renseigner pour vous apporter la réponse la plus précise possible. Je reviendrai vers vous à ce sujet. N’hésitez pas à demander aux opérateurs en question de se rapprocher de nous et nous ferons bien évidemment le lien. Nous comprenons les difficultés des opérateurs et l’ensemble des équipes de VNF se tiennent prêt pour le jour où nous passerons au stade 4 de la crise et pourrons repartir vers une « vie normale ».
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Canal de la Meuse 31 Mar 2020 13:33 #115033

  • Peter Cawson
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> On the French side the barrages with hydropower capacity (as far as Dun sur Meuse I think) were built long back, 50 years or more. Has there been some recent development this year that I have missed?

Early last year, I travelled the entire Meuse and Canal de la Meuse from the Dutch border to its end and then on to Nancy and Strasbourg. As David E-M says, there are many new and under-construction low-head generating weirs adjacent to locks along the Canal de la Meuse. All were new although possibly they are replacing earlier ones.

I was unaware of depth problems but did alert the DBA representative who was soon to attend a regional VNF meeting that I had concerns about the state of the bank at places along this canal. Bank erosion had left a very narrow strip with lower-lying fields beyond. The wash from one or two speeding boats was over-topping this narrow strip and it appeared that it may soon be breached and the canal water could end up in the fields!

With the Ardennes being long-term closed, it would be a real disaster if the Meuse ended up closed too.

Peter

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Canal de la Meuse 31 Mar 2020 10:48 #115029

  • John Wilson
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Some years ago on the Belgian side all the barrages were rebuilt and the channel deepened as far as Givet port, to where there is still regular commercial traffic. On the French side the barrages with hydropower capacity (as far as Dun sur Meuse I think) were built long back, 50 years or more. Has there been some recent development this year that I have missed? Early June last year, the going was pretty slow between locks 2,3 and 4. and in some other places too. No dredging has been done there for ages. It was closed a few weeks later.

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Canal de la Meuse 30 Mar 2020 11:28 #115006

  • David Edwards-May
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Yes, extreme situations on inland waterways in all parts of the world are sadly becoming more extreme, both drought and floods. However, VNF has invested massively in new weirs on the Meuse in recent years, and this is a multi-functional waterway par excellence, with low-head hydropower production added at the new weirs. The silt is likely to be a problem where lock-cuts enter the river, and doesn't have to be a huge dredging operation. It will take time, though, with no doubt a series of sites to be treated. But let's not be unnecessarily pessimistic. I will post here any information I can get from VNF engineers. Best wishes to all
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Canal de la Meuse 27 Mar 2020 17:02 #114942

  • John Wilson
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An avis this afternoon has announced the closure of the Canal de la Meuse for the time being from lock 1 to lock 58, almost it's entire length in France, due to siltation.
Given the time it took to dredge the affected areas last time this happened, the cost and magnitude of the task this time will be enormous, even to reduced draught limits. Last year it was only open throughout for a couple of months. One wonders if this might be the death knell of the Meuse as a through route. Complete lack of commercial traffic, cycles of flood and drought seem to me to make this an increasingly likely scenario.
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