Our second stop on the Canal de Berry: between Saint-Amand and Sancoins, where we discover a remarkable natural and built heritage

Driving as a tourist along the Berry Canal between Saint-Amand-Montrond and Sancoins remains a challenge, unlike the section already paving its cycle path between Épineuil-le-Fleuriel and Saint-Amand-Montrond (read our Monday edition on July 11). The route, which is approximately 45 kilometers long, is part of the second phase of the development work on the cycle route at the Syndicat du canal de Berry, which is planned from next year.

premium Our first stop on the Canal de Berry: between Épineuil-le-Fleuriel and Saint-Amand-Montrond, between nature and history

Nevertheless, it offers many opportunities for discovery trips along the grassy trails that can be experienced with the family; like those offered by Arecabe (the Association for the Reopening of the Berry Canal), rather in the low season, where the associative activity tends to go a bit dormant, but quite possibly in the summer.

Backpack and snack to discover

“It is not hiking or active walking, but in fact a discovery of the canal, its condition, the surrounding heritage, etc.”, presents Mireille Charby. Vice President of Arecabe, in charge of the Pays de Saint-Amand and Pays Val-d ‘sectors Aubois, she has studied the field for a dozen years, convinced that she has followed “at least twice” the entire line between two cities.

The ideal, she advises, is to bring a backpack and a snack, for rounds of about ten kilometers, departing around noon. 10.00 and return around kl. 15.00 One possible option is to depart from the hall of Saint-Amand-Montrond to reach the water station Charenton-du-Cher.

“The linear is set up on the border of the municipalities of Saint-Amand-Montrond and Saint-Pierre-les-Étieux, and the route is decorated with numerous locks. Le Breuil is a very special and unusual place, as the Marmande river at this place crosses the canal in level (see elsewhere). The more or less long stretches follow each other between the locks Gateaux, the valley, Boutillon, La Prée, Petit Vernet and the Charenton lock. “

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“People do not always realize the value of all this heritage”

Mireille Charby recommends taking some time to visit the town of Charenton-du-Cher, especially its laundry, located a stone’s throw from the Berry Canal and whose one wall is made of bricks from the Société Générale Mechanical Tileries of Vierzon-Forges. “In Charenton, there was also a tile factory,” she says.

Another circuit allows hikers to go from Charenton-du-Cher water station to Fontblisse in the town of Bannegon, where the canal’s zero point is located; a must (read elsewhere). Possibility of a detour to the old Laugère, in search of the remains of the clunker. It also with bringing back, among other beautiful images of nature and landscapes, a photo of the Laugère crane, “cast in Fourchambault in Nièvre, in 1880, and which was used to load and unload berrichons (wood, coal) at. the port. “

A fantastic castle that can only be discovered from the canal.

Shorter loops are also possible, from five to six kilometers, for example between the village of Vernais, with a mandatory passage through the pond of water, located at a place called Les Couillets, and Fontblisse, or even between Fontblisse and Augy-sur- Aubois, where one can see the Augy tomb.

Choosing a walk between Saint-Amand-Montrond and Sancoins sometimes offers unique vantage points … Thus the view of the Château de Lienesse, in the town of Neuilly-en-Dun. “A magnificent castle that can only be discovered from the canal,” says Mireille Charby of this private building, built in the first half of the 16th century, inaccessible to the public.

“Know Why You Should Love This Channel”

“On the line, there are still all the lock guards, some of whom are particularly well-kept,” invites Mireille Charby to appreciate.

Closing his walk at Sancoins will allow the hiker to embark on the history of the harbor, of which there are no more traces, except in postcards, such as the one published by Arecabe on his website. “Intended for the transport of goods arriving from Montluçon, it was at the location of the canal basin,” says the union of the Berry canal on the plan available at tourist sites and online. The dry dock allowed repairs, and the construction of the barges was ensured by many shipyards such as the Latte shipyard ”.

The most beautiful furrow track of the Berry Canal – a work that was decommissioned and alienated in 1955 – undoubtedly remains this pleasure of discovery, which sometimes requires an effort for research. “People do not always realize the value of all this heritage,” continues Mireille Charby. Along the way, we sometimes meet beautiful encounters. We also gradually learn, for example in the places where water points, overflows, etc. are located. »

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Also very much attached to this heritage, Pierre Lemercier, “the speaker of the Berry Canal”, believes that “the most important thing is not just to go for a walk, but to love this canal and to know why we should love it, know its pain , its riches, its uselessness and its resurrection, in which the cycle route can participate. Here we do not have the Eiffel Tower, we do not have Mont-Saint-Michel, but when we go there, we have a whole history to appreciate ”.

Marlene Lestang
marlene.lestang@centrefrance.com

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