River Loire sailing barges promote wine from the Côte Roannaise
The river Loire longest river in France and known as the Royal highway was once a main artery for transporting goods and people in central France. Always a difficult river with many shallows and shifting channels it gave rise to a series of very particular sailing barges or flats. There has been a huge resurgence of interest in these old sailing craft recently and many replicas built. Two such vessels have been enlisted to help promote local navigations and local wine in the Roanne region. Built on the banks of the Loire the town of Roanne gives its name to the increasingly popular wines of the district know as Côte Roannaise. The Loire itself is now only navigable by canoe for most of its length but the Roanne à Digoin canal runs along side in the Loire Valley as does the Canal Lateral à la Loire. Both these navigations offer pretty and tranquil cruising grounds with quaint villages tempting markets and fascinating architecture (Particularly well known are the Roman churches ) The Côte Roannaise wines were transported by the Loire sailing barges for centuries, with so much history and tradition in common it is natural that they should join forces to promote interest in historical navigation and these increasingly popular wines. Visiting Sailing Barge expert Stefan FRITZ was present for the occasion and was fascinated by the way Loire sailing barges had evolved in response to their particular sailing conditions.
“Wonder what they’d sail like down the Thames” he mused later, with a glass of Cote Roannaise in hand.