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Pont-Canals in France | Cruising in France

Cruising in France

...Travel blog about river and canal cruise vacations on luxury barges and riverboats

 

How Does a Canal Cross a River?

Written by Carolyn on January 12, 2009
Summary:

Ever wonder how a canal can cross a river? On a bridge, of course! …

One fairly rare but interesting feature of canal cruising in France is crossing over a river on a “pont-canal” (literally “bridge-canal” but sometimes translated as “navigable aqueduct”). A pont-canal is like a regular bridge except that it carries water instead of a road. As your barge floats across the bridge, you can look down at the river below - quite a sensation!

 Briare pont-canal 2Briare pont-canal 1

In Burgundy, I took some pictures of the Pont-Canal de Briare, a beautiful bridge across the Loire River. This structure is 20 feet wide and nearly a half mile long. The water is 7 feet deep. The bridge was completed in 1896 by Gustave Eiffel, whose famous Eiffel Tower in Paris was built in 1889. The nearby Canal de Briare was built much earlier (between 1604 and 1642) as part of a massive network of waterways connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel.

Pont-Canal, Beziers, FranceStaircase lock Beziers, France

There is another pont-canal in the south of France near Beziers, where the Canal du Midi crosses the river Orb. In that location, the Orb riverbed is at the bottom of a deep gorge, and its waters flow fast and furious on their way to the Mediterranean. Originally, a series of 9 staircase locks were built to bring boats down to the level of the river. This did the job for a while, but the lower two locks kept being flooded by the river. So, a “navigable aqueduct” was built to bypass these two locks. (The seven others are still in use today and are known as the Fonséranes locks.)

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