7 July 2016

canals without barges

. . . or Canal-de-Carpentras part two.
YOU WILL RECALL, I am sure, our forays and explorations of the spring, to track down and explore this interesting piece of 19th century engineering.  (Make amends now for missing it by clicking here!). Now in the summer, we went off to find it's source, and visited the largest aqueduct constructed to carry it across .

The C-de-C is just another drain on the poor old Durance river, which we have discovered is left with very little water at all to discharge into the Rhône south of Avignon. I followed the river up into the hills (via google earth) from whence it cometh and almost all the way to the Alps the river is beset by EDF canals and barrages to tap the flow for the making of electricity. The original water course is often more or less empty in the summer, and a mere shadow of what it once was, even in winter. At the spot where the C-de-C takes its water there is a large hydro barrage (see pic) and a huge sluice leading to the Canal-de-Marseille (edf).

Not that the Canal-de-Carpentras is the only culprit; there are lots of other irrigation canals pinching the Durance waters . . . the IGN blue series of maps reveal many others; it's just that the Carpentras is one of the more extensive ones and as revealed in the earlier posting, ends up discharging into another river what remains after all the vineyards on the way have had their fill.

The aqueduct that takes the C-de-C across the Sorgue at Gallas is a major piece of bridge building and given the honeypot nature of nearby Fontaine-de-Vaucluse we were surprised to have the top of the aqueduct to ourselves. Lovely views, free access (no cycling) and fun watching the plastic kayaks carrying the young negotiating the weirs below. The railings along the "towpath" are a recent addition . . . it is pretty airy up there even with them in place. Not a towpath either as, of course, this an irrigation canal – no barges here. You couldn't even canoe it really as bridges across are often only just above water level . . . but there is usually some sort of path alongside so it can be walked although it does sometimes go culverting under road widening schemes and real estate . . .

On this sojourn we also visited and walked stretches of the canal near Beaumes-de-Venise which we found rather good for damsel and dragonflies . . .

Inbetween visiting these two locations on the 7th of the month, we slipped along to Cucuron and lunched by the étang there, under the trees, a very favourite place in a very favourite village . . . although it too is being over-gentrified. Why can't the french leave us some rural decay?

An album may be found on Flickr showing other experiences, places and colour. Not many people though, sorry I find they tend to clutter and spoil the the view . . . click this link:
summer 16 france