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Canoeing past Belleville

May 30, 2017

On the river Loire

Belleville, the most upstream of the Loire’s four nuclear power stations, supplies about four percent of France’s electricity, about equal to the country’s total wind farm capacity of over 10,000 turbines in 2015. Its two 1,300 MW concrete-domed reactors are dominated by the cooling towers which condense the steam for return to the river, which without them would be sucked dry. I doubt I’m the only canoeist, fearful how to get past. Easy – a simple short portage right.

Downstream from Cosne-Cours, the cooling towers come into view; often with their own private cloud!


As the power station nears, a sign directs canoeists to follow the right bank..

A few hundred metres on, a second sign directs canoeists down a narrow channel between the islands – a lovely route.

After warning signs for the dam at 1,500 and 500 metres, you emerge into open river near the right bank.


A jetty directs you towards an open lock and the portage.  Small boats can telephone for the gates to be operated, but the lock keepers expect canoeists to portage. Don’t shoot the lock!

The portage is easy.

The central part of the weir would be tricky in an open canoe.

Over on the left, nearer the power station, the drop is more gradual.  You’d need to inspect, and there is a no entry sign over the left arch of the bridge, but it looks shootable to me. I didn’t try!

The bridge is both road and rail.

Downstream of the bridge on the left is the cooling water outflow lagoon.

Here are some more views of the wonderful power station. Enjoy!

Jim Thornton



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