We left the beautiful mooring at Revin, a little reluctantly, to continue down the Meuse towards Belgium. Breathtaking scenery and a beautiful, uncrowded, meandering river. To try to give you some idea of how much it is meandering, I’ve taken a couple of photos of the river guide book we are using.
Almost immediately there was a short tunnel followed by a lock – Bella Fortuna had an issue at the lock – it wouldn’t open properly and they were told they’d gone through the tunnel before the light turned fully green. This they disputed and produced their webcam thingy ready to prove their innocence. So, forearmed and all that – I took a photo of the green light as we passed it! But that wasn’t our problem at the lock, it was geese, a whole family of geese that wouldn’t come out until we switched off the engine and bribed them along the side of the boat with biscuits!
We had thought to stop at Fumay or Haybes but it was pretty early & a beautiful cruising day so we continued to Vireux Wallander, which, we had been told, is really pretty. The pleasure boat area was full but we moored where the passenger boat moors as it was, luckily, not expected that day. We were not particularly impressed with the place and so carried on the next day.
As we came around Fumay we saw some guys on the towpath – looks like they were filming something, but then we heard a drone overhead! Went over us a couple of times in fact so I was able to photograph ‘it’ filming us!
We prepared carefully for the 650m Ham tunnel – no lights and no walkway down one side which ain’t good for Piedaleau as her stern gets sucked into the side; she also has high rails which are vulnerable to the tunnel walls. We have still not straightened up the rails after going through the Pouilly tunnel on the Canal de Bourgeogne 2 years ago (that’s over 3kms long). We decided to try a different defensive approach this time – positioned some fenders at the top of the rails so that these would touch the walls rather than the rails. It worked well even if we did move in a rather diagonal fashion at times. But the fenders were there to take the strain!
We had a couple of interesting moments through the day: as we approached the first lock we thought the lock was broken but, as often happens, when we finally rang the VNF we saw a boat come into the lock – a commercial peniche so a bit tricky to avoid in such a narrow channel. Then later as we were negotiating the narrow channel approaching the next lock, avoiding overhanging trees, Adrian had to ram into reverse to avoid hitting a barge coming round the bend! Not good for the nerves!
Near Aubrives there are statues by the sculptor Georges-Armand Favaudon along the bank – makes an interesting view! I wonder if this is the guy we saw along the way the other day? No, it’s not!
I suppose this is not surprising given the hillsides are made of slate and huge quarries can be seen along the way.
We came into moor at Givet and met up with Bella Fortuna again. Andy had already consulted TripAdvisor so we all went out to dinner in an excellent Morrocan restaurant. Just lovely sitting outside in a side street beside the river.
Thursday morning Bella Fortuna set off and we went into tourist mode visiting the Charlemont Citadelle above the town. The town appears to be trying hard to attract tourists – the quayside has been improved in the last few years, the Tourist Information Bureau advertises walks around the town and the eastern part of the citadel has just been opened to visitors (part is still used as a Commando Training Centre). Not the most professionally presented tour but interesting and evidence of more work by Vauban whose seems to have planned and built fortifications throughout France.
This could the last post from France for sometime as we will be crossing the border into Belgium very very soon!