Canal Lat a la Marne

Canal Lateral à la Marne 


The Canal, completed in 1845, starts at Vitry le François and runs for 67 kilometres to Dizy where, 15 locks later, it joins the canalized Marne. The cruise starts on Sunday morning with a visit to one of the wood-framed churches of the Der region of Champagne. Before returning to Merganser for lunch we visit the Lac du Der Chantecoq. Sunday  afternoon is spent cruising on the Canal Latéral à la Marne. In former times the canal ran through the centre of the town itself but now a bypass canal skirts Vitry le François high above small houses with their tiny gardens with the spectacular Renaissance church dominating the skyline, then swings away towards the first lock. This lock is preceded immediately by an aqueduct over the River Sault. The next lock follows quickly and, with a drop of 3.5 metres is the deepest of the canal. The River Marne lies on our left as we descend. Here is an old lock, now disused, leading from the canal to the river. Note that the lock numbers on the old lock houses are, as a result, different from their modern equivalent. Winding our way past villages, high chalk cliffs and disused lime kilns we moor for the night beside the small village of Pogny. Passengers should note that on this first day we pass through six of the canal’s locks. On Monday we cruise during the morning to Châlons en Champagne passing through a further two locks. There are some long straight stretches on this part of the canal and the towpath is good for cycling and walking. During our stay at Châlons we visit Reims, tour vineyards and villages in the Montagne de Reims and visit the basilica at l’Epine before returning along the canal to Vitry le François.



Châlons en Champagne is an important and attractive town, the préfecture of the Marne department.  There are good shops and cafés in the town and passengers are offered a specially translated walking itinerary embracing the principal features  of the town. Many of the traditional champenoise buildings remain and the cathedral and other ecclesiastical buildings are notable.


Chalons en Champagne

Chalôns en Champagne





Vitry le François was built by Francis 1st in the 16th Century as a fortified town to replace  Vitry en Pertois, which had the misfortune to have been repeatedly burnt down in previous centuries by marauding armies. It is now an attractive market town, largely rebuilt after wholesale destruction during the second world war. We arrive at the barge in time for a leisurely stroll before dinner on board. The town has one of the most unusual churches in the region. Dating from the creation of the town, this flamboyant Renaissance pile, having escaped destruction during WW2 now overlooks a beautifully restored square from which we may see one of the original gates into the fortified precincts of the town.

 The Place des Armes

The Place des Armes, Vitry le François




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