Pont-Canal de Briare

09-June-2017

Today is the 45th day of our visit to France and the Mediterranean.  If you have been following us via https://share.garmin.com/georgelamb, you will have noted we have passed through the canal system, joined the Saône River and started down the Rhône River.  We should reach the Mediterranean within the next several days. 

We have climbed a total of 1000 ft and descended a little less than half the way back to sea level (527 ft).  The transition between watersheds to the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea were identified on the lock signs for Canal de Centre as Océan before the peak and Mediterranean after.  We have just 10 locks of the 179 to go – one notably 23 meters.  Our record for number of locks in a day is 24 – it was a busy day.  

The canal system took us over rivers via canal bridges or aqueducts – 3 of which were particularly noteworthy in their expanse and height.  The photo below is of the Pont Canal de Briare (Briare canal bridge) which is 662 meters long and crosses over the Loire River.

Ice Floe entering Pont-Canal de Briare (Briare Canal Bridge) crossing the river Loire.

George commented, that Ice Floe barely fit within the aqueduct. He had to concentrate on steering to avoid scraping the sides and did not have an opportunity to see anything else. You can get a better sense of the tight fit in the next photo taken off the starboard side of Ice Floe.

Midway across Pont-Canal de Briare

While waiting for an opening to cross the aqueduct, a group rowing shells asked us to allow them to slip in behind us as they were finding it difficult to get their turn.

They, too, had to be careful to not extend their oars too far.
Boats traveling the canals and aqueducts are of uniform width and height to match those of the canals.

After we arrived on the other side, we moored Ice Floe in Châtillion-sur-Loire and crossed back in our dinghy to let George get a better look.

New found appreciation for wine

What better place than France for someone to disavow their belief that they did not like wine? George began to embrace white wine after tasting a particularly fruity Sancere and is even appreciative of a Beaujolais red, in small doses. Neither he nor I had previously had these types of wine.  We also fell for a sparkling white wine (champagne-like, but you cannot call it champagne).  We are fairly well stocked up with and we still have the Rhône valley.

Why are sparkling wines made by the “Champagne” method, not all called Champagne?

My limited understanding is that each specific type of wine (Chardonnay, Burgundy…) must adhere to the specifications of a unique appellation.  The appellation specifies the geographic region in which the grapes must have been grown, which kind(s) of grapes can be used, the yield of grapes per hectare that can be harvested, the pruning method that must be used on the vines,  the percent alcohol content, et al.  A particular vineyard or estate that meets these specifications for a particular wine is said to be part of a “village” for that wine.  Of course, there are specific estate “recipes”, good and bad years, the age of the vines, the type of soil, and many, many other details, that introduce endless variety, notoriety and cost.  Luckily for us, French wine is quite inexpensive in France.

Vineyard in Loire Valley
Loire Valley
Vineyard on the River Rhône
Vineyard on the River Rhône with particular wine estate identified

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