My Travel Blog

Down the Canal Lateral a la Marne

I’ve said it many times before, and I will continue to say it.  One of the major reasons we love barging is because we get to visit places the typical tourist rarely see.  We have been on the Canal Lateral a la Marne for over a week.  In that period we have seen one commercial barge and a handful of private vessels.  In fact, the canal is used so little the moss is starting to take over.

Rabelo weighs over 200 tons.  That means for every boat length we move forward we have to push asideover 200 tons of water.  The faster we go the more water we have to move per second. With so much moss growing in the canal there is no place for all that water to go.  The only thing we can do is slow down.  That way the water will have time to disperse as we move along.  Actually we don’t have a choice.  A canal full of moss naturally slows the boat for us.  In the case of the Canal Lateral a la Marne our speed was cut in half.

“Moss plugging up the Canal Lateral a la Marne.”

We discovered the little gem of a town Joinville only by accident.  It didn’t look like much on our chart, so we were going to continue on, but it was Sunday and we forgot that the locks close early.   Lisa and I went for an early evening walk and found the church open.  We stepped inside, and to our delight the organist was practicing on the churches huge pipe organ.  We both sat down for our very own private concert.  Considering the venue I should have left a donation.

“The organ we heard being played.”

“Part of the Marne River that runs through Joinville.”

“One of the narrow streets of Joinville with medieval homes.”

Our next stop was the tourist office, which was still open.  They recommended we go see the Chateau du Grand Jardin, or the Grand Garden Chateau.  As we were leaving the tourist office the young lady asked us if we were English.  When we told her we were Americans she was so surprised.  I’m not sure they had ever seen an American tourist in Joinville.

“Chateau du Grand Jardin.”

“Lisa next to a garden statue.”

“A beautiful arbor.”

“This is actually a musical instrument.”

“Some of the gardens.”

Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, built the garden chateau between 1533 and 1546.  It was said he built it as a way to ask forgiveness of his wife Antoinette de Burbon, for his infidelity.  Frankly, I think he got off kind of cheap.  The chateau was not much to look at so far as chateaus go, but the gardens were spectacular.  There was even a labyrinth.  Lisa was afraid to go in.  She said she would probably get lost.  I told her that even if she got lost she wouldn’t have to worry about me being unfaithful.  I couldn’t afford even a cheap chateau like Chateau du Grand Jardin.  Lisa smiled and said, “And don’t you forget it.”


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.