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21 June 2018

Alsace, from Montbéliard to Illkirch-Graffenstaden

In May 2017 I finished the first segment, in six stages between the Belgian border in Givet and Paris. Since then, there have been short trips on the Yonne, on the Canal latéral à la Loire and along the Loire à Vélo, but these were just a few kilometres clocked up here or there on the occasion of meetings or other tasks, or a summer holiday with Irène. It was not until November 13 that I got stuck into the programme again full time, riding solo. I was dropped off by my BlaBlaCar driver beside the Canal du Rhône au Rhin in Montbéliard, just opposite the sprawling Peugeot works, and headed northeast.

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02 March 2018

Cycling all French canals!

I have now embarked on a personal ‘grand tour’ of the canals and navigable rivers of France, cycling on the towpaths. Over the years 2017-2019, in stages of 4 or 5 days, I will cover 9000 km of canals and rivers, most of them navigable today, but some waiting to be restored to navigation in the future. Between the stages I will continue my work as president of Inland Waterways International, an association that is precisely campaigning for implemen- tation of these restoration projects which will enhance the network and create new cruising possibilities.

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11 September 2017

The Fonserannes staircase, Canal du Midi, France

One of the most iconic waterways in the world is the Canal du Midi, certainly one of the oldest, and we were looking forward to exploring it. We arrived at the foot of the infamous Fonsérannes staircase of locks at Beziers just before lunch and joined a queue of 3 boats on the curved right bank. We tied up to a convenient tree (there were no mooring cleats) had a quick bite to eat, and then walked along the path to take a look at the task ahead – forewarned is forearmed.