From Bar-le-Duc to Toul it would be pretty much locks, locks, locks. Also, with water levels very low due to the drought, stopping places would be hard to find. We had to plan carefully.
After leaving Bar it was 11 locks in 11 kilometers to the town of Tronville on Sunday and then 17 locks in 17 k to Trèveray on Monday.
The waterways authorities were being very helpful. Since it was late in the season, we were just about the only boat moving in the area. We also think the water problems had scared away some of the cruisers, mainly Dutch, German and Belgian, that would have been in the area. Their easy access to France on the Meuse had been closed almost all summer and we wonder if that hadn’t put some boats off of a France visit altogether. When we pulled into the quay at Trèveray, staff members came out of the local VNF office to check that there was enough depth for us to moor and helped us with our lines.
We had wanted to get closer to the long Mauvages tunnel so we could get there early on Tuesday but were told by boaters coming in the other direction that most of the moorings were unusable because of the low water. We believe it. The water was very clear and when we entered the last lock before the tunnel it looked like there was only about 6 inches under the rudder!
We left Trèveray just a little before 9 am to get to the first lock just as it opened. After 10 locks at about 12:30 pm we entered the Mauvages tunnel.
Up until a couple of years ago, boat were towed through the tunnel. There were two trips in each direction each day and boats would line up behind a tug for the tow. Now boats make the trip under their own power but with a waterway staff member following along on the towpath on a bicycle in case of a problem. We only bumped the side one time, resulting in some paint scraped off the handrail, and after an hour and 15 minutes returned to the sunshine. There was plenty of depth on the quay just after the tunnel so we tied up there for the night.
Wednesday morning it was off to the pontoon at Pagny sur Meuse, all the locks now going down.
We had stopped in Pagny for lunch last year on our trip north and, although there is drinking water but no electricity, it’s a good long pontoon with a boulangerie and little convenience store in the small village nearby. Also, the weather looked like it would be good for the next couple of days. Our chances of getting a bankside spot at our winter moorings were slim and we wanted to get some touch-up painting on the hull done so Pagny seemed like a good spot.
Thursday and Friday were maintenance days and we had a chance to socialize with some other boaters that had been leapfrogging us since Bar-le-Duc.
We also saw a prime example of going boating with the boat you have. This German couple who spent the night in Pagny seemed to be having a great time.
Saturday morning at the usual 9 am we were off for our last day of cruising this year. We had just one more tunnel to navigate; we were only in the Foug tunnel for 15 minutes. After that it was 14 locks in 9 kilometers to the bottom. By 2 pm we had passed through Toul and Oldtimer was secure in it’s winter home, Lorraine Marine.