Canal de la Marne à la Saône
My survey of the Canal de la Marne à la Saône begins at the dividing pound. While I am driving I see a sign along the motor road which marks the dividing line between the Channel and the Mediterranean. The Canal de la Marne à la Saône is one of the waterways between the north and the south of France which are constructed after the conquest of the Alsace and Lorraine by Germany in 1871. As its name explains the canal links the river Marne to the Saône. The dividing pound is in the neighborhood of Langres. As I reach the Canal de la Marne à la Saône, I can see Langres situated on top of a hill. I find myself at lock 1 on the side of the Marne. That's the northern side of the dividing pound.
I decide to cycle in northern direction first. I find the third lock at about two kilometers distance from each other. The locks have to be serviced by men-power and I see two operators of the VNF doing some maintenance work at the mechanisms of the locks.
As I am cycling back I notice a weir which is situated at the eastern side of the canal. It's the weir of the Lac de Liez, which is constructed for the water-supply of the canal
I have a good sight now at the fortress of Langres now which is situated at he western side of the canal. The fortress of Langres is situated strategically on top of a hill. I cycle now to the south from lock number 1. In this direction a tunnel is situated. Soon I see some construction works on both sides of the canal which are used for the water-supply. An inlet from a channel coming from the Lac de Liez at the other side and at the side of the towpath an inlet from the Marne, which takes its rise close by. I cycle on to the tunnel. The dividing pound is a beautiful section of the canal again. Soon I see two service-houses. From here in earlier days the traffic through the tunnel was regulated. As I go on the canal narrows so one can navigate only in one direction. The canal cuts deeper and deeper into the landscape. Then I see the tunnel, it's lightened. As I approach the opening of the tunnel I hear the sound of a boat far away and I wait until it appears. It's a Swiss boat. I return to the car and drive over the hill to the other side of the tunnel. The tunnel, which is called the souterrain de Balesmes , is 4820 meters long. At the south side the village Heuilley-Cotton is situated. I park my car and take my bike off the roof again. By a metal pedestrian bridge, a 'passerelle', with a wooden floor I can cross the canal to take a look at the tunnel opening at the south side. I am cycling in the southern direction now on the towpath. I find myself on the Saône-side now. I see the first lock soon. The locks follow quickly one after one. The are situated about 400 meter of each other and the fall is about 5 meters each time so I am descending quickly. At this side of the dividing pound the locks are made automatically. After the seventh lock I return to my car. Then I follow the canal for a while by car. At lock 11 a loaded barge is locked. As it navigates on it grubs the bottom of the canal. I can see a large eddy of mud behind the barge.
I can follow the canal easily by car. I think the Canal de la Marne à la Saône is very beautiful. The canal is meandering through the hilly landscape. Both banks are planted with high trees and at practically every lock I find a beautiful characteristic lockkeeper house.
I see a similar passerelle as near Heuilley. In the meantime it's getting late. The locks are closed. I see a barge moored for the night with its front side under a bridge near a lock.
At lock 29 I leave the Canal de la Marne à la Saône behind me after I ate some chips at a snackbar called 'Canal Frite'.