Wonderful boat trip

Trip Start Sep 04, 2011
Trip End Sep 30, 2011

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Flag of France  , Rhône-Alpes,
Sunday, September 25, 2011

The highlight of today was the boat trip on Le Savoyard along the Rhone and onto the Canal de Savieres through l'ecluse; a lock that is 18m long and 5m wide, barely wide enough for the passenger boat; it is automatic at the push of a button and  the water starts to evacuate 4m down; it takes 7 minutes to drop then 8 minutes to fill up again; amazing. Onto Les Vannes the gates that hold back the water from flooding the canal, then on to Chanaz the lovely little village we visited yesterday. It was a hive of activity today all the canal side restaurants buzzing and lots of small crafts out on the canal. Sunday of course all the families were out picnicking on every bend of the river, there was a festive air about the place but the French with love of eating outdoors every weekend becomes a festival. We passed through parts of the canal where there were herons and apparently beavers; although we didn’t see one; and in the canal side woods there were boar and deer, apparently!

Interesting as we entered into Lac du Bourget there were stories of smugglers and a chateau built for the purpose of watching the boats coming and going into Switzerland and Italy; Château Chatillon; the borders have changed and parts of the Savoie were once Italy and up to 1860 this was a popular route for smugglers.

Lac du Bourget; the biggest natural lake in France is 18km long, in parts only
3km wide and 147 meters deep.

We passed a statue of the poet, Lamartine; I suppose he must be the French equivalent to our Wordsworth as he wrote romantic poetry about the lake. Then there was the Abbey de Hautecombe; property of the Italian Royal Family, the last king of Italy is buried there, Benedictine monks occupied the castle until 1994 and now it is a Christian community college.  Fascinating, we had no idea this area would be so interesting, we only came for the canoeing.
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