Legends from our own lunchtimes

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Going Up!
Marigny-Le-Cahouët to Port Royal

No matter how  much we enjoy simply sitting with friends, there comes a time when we are glad to be rolling again, and there are few better ways of spending a day than going not too far while ascending a staircase of locks.  

The locks on the French system are a standard five and a bit metres wide, mostly with walls around three metres high.  At first, the experience of entering them is a little akin to driving a large car into a small garage on an ice rink, but eventually a new set of reflexes emerges and like most things repeated often enough, the routine of entering and securing the boat becomes close to effortless.

All that is left to do is to wait and hold on, while the lock keeper (or in some cases the automatic system) closes the gate, and opens the floodgates which will pour close to half a million litres of water into that very same garage in about five minutes, lifting us to the next level, where the upper gates can be opened and we can be sent on our merry way.

The best part for us happens as the boat begins to rise and we have our first glimpse of what exists at the top of those black walls.   Will the house be quaint or derelict?  Sometimes we are greeted by a family of garden gnomes, once or twice by a goat or a chicken, occasionally an old car lies in wait.

Often the texture of the surrounds changes so markedly in that three metre rise that it is as if life was a television set and someone has just flicked the channel.     

Today the channel changed a few dozen times before we rolled into Port Royal, where of course the facilities were closed, it being Wednesday, and will be closed tomorrow too as far as we can tell, should we decide to stay.

But there are more locks tomorrow, and more channels to flick, perhaps we will move on after all.

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