Did you know that a hundred canal bridges have been built in France over the centuries? Honour where honour is due - the Briare Aqueduct is the oldest canal in France for it was built under Henri IV.
Opened for navigation in 1642 between Briare and Montargis, the Briare canal is punctuated with quite remarkable structural works. The aqueduct, or canal bridge, in Briare - one of France's fluvial flagships – was built by the Eiffel company between 1890 and 1896. A sail or a walk along this grand water-filled avenue bordered with pilasters and lanterns naturally spurs many a 'wow'!
How I crossed the Loire (fully clothed) in Briare...
The Briare Aqueduct's renown comes from the technical, human and aesthetic prowess of the engineers who built it. The aqueduct's aim was to enable the Loire to be crossed by barges and to link the Berry canal and the lateral canal with the Briare canal, hence creating a connection with the Saône and Seine basins.
Construction of the aqueduct considerably facilitated goods transport by boats which, prior to its existence, had to make a perilous crossing of the Loire via a 1 kilometre-long dyke channel from one bank to the other, between the Mantelot (right bank) and the Combles locks.
Among the greatest
The result is well worthy of the initial ambition and of the resources implemented for its realisation: no less than 662 metres in length, supported by fifteen 40 metre-long and 11.5 metre-wide spans, all suspended 11 metres above the river and weighing in at 13,680 tonnes (30% heavier than the Eiffel Tower!). For a long time THE biggest in the world, the Briare Aqueduct is now simply among the world's biggest.
A bright idea – the aqueduct was illuminated as from the late 19th century thanks to electricity. Its 62 lanterns and its four obelisk lamp stands offer an illuminated pathway that reflects in the water. Listed on the French Historic Monuments supplementary register, the Briare Aqueduct now essentially welcomes pleasure boaters and the pedestrian walkway across esplanades at either side of the canal offers unique views over the Loire and Briare.
Canal de Briare © C. Lorsch
La Loire à Briare © C. Lorsch
Briare © Comfuté Steeve Harpon
Briare © Comfuté Steeve Harpon
Make sure you don't miss:
Ancien canal Latéral à Loire45250 - BRIARE
Canal Henri IV45250 - BRIARE
Canal latéral à la Loire45250 - BRIARE
Centre Aquatique de Briare45250 - BRIARE
Centre municipal d'expositions de Trousse-Barrière45250 - BRIARE
Eglise Saint-Etienne45250 - BRIARE
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What to bring home?
Chocolates from the Chocolat et Chimères chocolate factory located within one of the lock houses on the aqueduct.
A 'Claodius de Briare', a liqueur-perfumed caramel covered in cooked sugar so that it stays creamy on the inside.
Enamels from Briare – they equally adorn town monuments and nearby châteaux as the homes of enamel lovers the world over.
An AOC Coteaux du Giennois white or red wine, to suite your palate (with due moderation of course).
How to get here?
By train: there is a daily train service to Briare, to and from Paris (Bercy station in Paris) and Nevers (in the department of Nièvre).
By car: access via the RN 7 trunk road, or the A77 motorway, the D951 and the D952 minors roads.
HOW TO BOOK :
02 38 78 04 04