Is restoration of the Canal de Berry possible?
First lets decide on a name!! The Canal DE Berry or Canal DU Berry? Well, the old province of Berry was known as the Province DU Berry, so why not the canal the Canal Du Berry? Well, because it is named after the Duc DE Berry and therefore known as the Canal DE Berry. Now that’s settled,let’s look at the route and it’s future.
The canal linked the town of Montluçon from St. Amand Montrond with the River Loir and the west coast ports of France. Leaving Montluçon it then turns east before separating into two arms, one which connects with the Canal Latéral à la Loire at Marseilles les Aubigny and the other which runs west to the town of Noyer on the River Cher. From the Cher it was possible to connect to the River Loire at Tours and from there…..well.... the rest of the world.
Abandoned in 1955 the old canal has suffered repeated indignities and parts of the route are now filled in and buried under highways, roundabouts, police stations and even a tennis court.
Despite this sorry history a number of diehard “Berrichons” have been fighting for twenty years to restore the canal to its former glory. Not surprisingly they were at first taken as romantic dreamers but today with cast iron will and determination the group has grown into a full blown restoration association with boaters, bikers, hikers and enthusiasts joining forces and gaining momentum.
This year on the 3rd, 4th & 5th of June the association l’ARECABE celebrates its twentieth birthday in the town of Vierzon where unceasing work has resulted in the renovation of two locks and two kilometres of waterway through the town centre. An amazing achievement appreciated by the towns folk and tourists alike it's open to navigation all summer.
French singer Jacques Brel sung about visiting the town of Vierzon. Alors! Now’s the time to do so. Make a note in your diary for the birthday festivities and an exceptional weekend in the company of some exceptional canal addicts.