Canal de la Sauldre
The Canal de la Sauldre is one of the most curious canals of France. It has no connection with other canals. It runs in the Sologne from Blancafort to Lamotte-Beuvron. The canal is 47 kilometers long and has 22 locks. It is constructed from 1848 until 1869. The canal is declassed already in 1926.
The canal has had hardly any use, the only target it is used for, is the transportation of marl from Blancafort to Lamotte-Beuvron.
The idea behind the construction of the canal was to make a fourth branch to the Canal de Berry and to create a shortcut of 'le grand boucle' in the Loire. The canal was originally planned to run from Selles-sur-Cher to Châtillon-sur-Loire. Only the middle section has been realized.
As I drive by car from Lamotte-Beuvron in eastern direction, I notice a little sign 'Écluse Beauval' along the road. I turn into the sandy road and after about a kilometer I arrive at the lock in the canal.
I see a lockkeepers house with a green bronze sign The next lock is 1,2 kilometers away.
I pick off the bike of my car and cycle along the canal. The towpath is well practicable and also beyond the canal one can cycle. The Canal de la Sauldre is a narrow canal with small locks. The locks are 28 meters long and 2,70 meters wide, just as the locks in the Canal de Berry. The water level is somewhat lower as originally designed. Along the canal beautiful old trees are situated. The light of the sun is filtered by the leaves. At the next lock, écluse de la Vossonnerie, I see an old lock gate. The shelves are attached on the frame diagonally. The lock is that narrow (2,70 meters) that only one gate is necessary at each side of the lock. I cycle on. The canal is covered by the leaves of old trees. The light is fantastic. Only a short time ago it has rained. Because of that the atmosphere is still somewhat moist. It feels wonderfully.
I arrive at a little bridge with a wrought iron fences. This bridge is only use for agricultural traffic.
Along the waterside each kilometer marks are situated. I find one with painted lettering. When I have cycled as far as the fourth lock, I decide to go back. I don't have the time to cycle along the entire canal. The locks are situated at regular distances, at about 1 until 1,5 kilometer from each other.
Despite the canal isn't used for quite a long time, it is well maintained. Also the lockkeepers houses are looking very good.
I decide to take a look at the highest part of the canal. The water supply of the canal is coming from the Étang du Puits which is use for recreation purposes nowadays. Close to the lake two locks are situated close to each other. The water is flowing into the lock-chamber by a weir. Just behind the last lock, or properly speaking behind the first lock, (it is lock number 1 Les Fouchères) is the connection between the Canal de la Sauldre and the Étang du Puits. By means of weirs the water level in the canal can be controlled.