From the Grand Gabarit to the Canal de Saint Quentin: Douai to Cambrai

Wanderlust moored in Cambrai

Wanderlust moored in Cambrai

Proceeding inland from Douai, we turned off the busy commercial Grand Gabarit, and on to the empty river l’Escaut. Our goal for the day was Cambrai. Cambrai is formally the start of the Canal de St.-Quentin.

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The Grand Gabarit: Béthune to Douai

A loaded commercial passing our mooring in Douai.

A loaded commercial passing our mooring in Douai.

When we started planning our route through France we figured that we’d want to minimize our time major commercial waterways. The commercial routes, we imagined, would be sterile concrete-lined channels choked with massive cargo carrying barges. They would be the equivalent of a semi-truck filled superhighways. Continue reading

The Grand Gabarit: Béthune

Wanderlust moored on the pontoon in Bethune.

Wanderlust moored on the pontoon in Béthune.

Just off of the Grand Gabarit in Béthune there’s a single unserviced mooring pontoon for passing pleasure boats at the Port de Plaisance. We were fortunate enough to find this pontoon empty when we arrived and took advantage of the free mooring for the night. Staying in Béthune let us escape the wakes of the heavy commercial barge traffic on the major waterway nearby. Continue reading

Le Grand Gabarit: Fontinettes Ecluse

Wanderlust floating upwards inside the Fontinettes Ecluse

Wanderlust floating upwards inside the Fontinettes Ecluse

Between our first inland stop at Watten and our second at Béthune lies 48 km of the Grand Gabarit, the main commercial navigational artery in this region of Europe. Le Grand Gabarit, also known as the Canal Dunkerque-Escaut, is a 189 kilometer-long linked sequence of large waterways. It is the water equivalent of a superhighway. This day, we traveled a portion of Continue reading