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Loire canoeing – 1

October 21, 2017

Nevers to Chateauneuf

A beautiful section. At normal water levels the flow is excellent; 135 km took us (middle-aged paddlers) seven days. But the river is not to be trifled with. Although most rapids are easy, and the channel easy to find, there are a couple of problems for an open canoe. We launched below Nevers bridge’s tricky step, but the similar step at La Charité is more difficult to avoid. The natural portage right is the wrong bank for the island campsite, and repair work (May 2017) makes a carry over the bridge unattractive. We shot the third arch from the right, but took on a lot of water and only just avoided a capsize.

My other worry, the nuclear plants at Belleville (click here) and Dampierre (click here), proved easier than expected. Both easy portages, albeit the latter invisible from the canoe until you’re almost on the weir.

This stretch passes the china factories of Gien, and some magnificent canal engineering at Briare. Apart from Sully the chateaux are set well back, but the river touches many vineyards; the famous Pouilly and Sancerre, and the less famous Coteaux du Giennois. The Canal latéral à la Loire has followed the left bank from Digoin and continues to do so till crossing at Briare.

Between March and June terns and grebes migrate from Africa to nest on the islands. It’s fine to use the shingle banks for access, few birds nest there, but canoeists are asked to avoid landing on the islands during this period.


0 km – Nevers-sur-Loire. Camping left bank (click here), upstream of the bridge (1832). A few yards from the campsite, the Nevers branch of the canal latéral ends in a marina.

Tricky step below bridge. Launch downstream or shoot right (click here).



Is this tower on the right bank 50 meters below the bridge a toll house?

200 metres – Nevers Railway bridge (1946)

7 km – River Allier joins left. With similar length and flow to the main river, some argue that the Loire is a tributary of the Allier! The junction is rather a disappointment. The picture below right is the view upstream from the mouth of the Allier.


8 km –  Iles-de-Marzy Main channel left.

13.5 km – Fourchambault Givry bridge  Givry left. Fourchambault right. The “Camping de la Loire” campsite right above the bridge (click here) closed in 2016 and was still closed in May 2017.


Broken weir right immediately after the bridge. Pass left.

14 km – Canal du Givry joins left. A branch of the canal lateral


Immediately after the Canal du Givry river lock, is a broken weir left, with an attractive gap for white water enthusiasts. The main channel right is easier.

21 km – Marseilles-les-Aubigny left The canal du Briare, running along the left bank, is close here.

28 km – La Marche right


29 km – Weir left. Stay right for the beautiful old bridge at La Charite, the oldest crossing of the Loire.

31 km – N151 La Charité bridge. New bridge (1951) over left channel.  Old bridge (original 1520. This one 1731) right. Currently May 2017 under extensive repair.  La Charité right.

The Abbey was an important stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route from Scandinavia and Germany. Shoot 3rd arch from right. If you manage not to fall in, ferry glide across to shingle bank on the island for access to the campsite.

charite-new-bridge   charite-sur-loire-grand-pont     

Camping (click here) on the island downstream of the bridges. Nice site with good facilities but rather too securely fenced for my taste! No access to the campsite from the left (new bridge) channel.


37 km – Chateau Mouron right

45 km – Pouilly-sur-Loire bridge (1902) P-s-L right. The vineyards right behind the town mostly grow sauvignon blanc for Pouilly-Fumé. A minority grow the chasselas grape for the slightly inferior Pouilly-sur-Loire wine. (Click here for more)

 pouilly-sur-loireview-from-bridge   pouilly-fume-chateaux-de-tracy

Camping de Malaga right bank about 0.5 km below the bridge. More a holiday park than campsite.

Soon the unmistakable outline of Sancerre hill comes into view.


55 km – Saint-Thibault-sur-Loire bridge


55.5 km – Junction canal left The river lock is no longer working and the junction canal is now a marina. Followed immediately on left bank by Flower Camping Les Portes de Sancerre (click here)

60 km – Port Aubry railway bridge (1893)

63 km – Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire suspension bridge (1959) Camping left bank just upstream of the bridge (click here) Lovely site.

75 km – Belleville nuclear power station left The beautiful cooling towers, among the largest ever built, return most of the water it uses to the river (more here)


76 km – Pont de Neuvy-sur-Loire (1984) Portage the weir under the bridge right (more here).


82 km – Bonny-sur-Loire suspension bridge (1902) Bonny-s-L right. Beaulieu-sur-Loire left

86 km – Ousson-sur-Loire right  Broken weir left. Main channel right.


87 km – Mantelot lock left Prior to the opening of the Briare aqueduct, boats coming from the south on the Canal Lateral a Loire crossed the river here to reach the Canal de Briare at Combles lock on the other bank.

chatillon-lock-mantelot chattelot-eclusemantelot-w580

A long jetty left, the Levee d’L’Escargot extends as far as the bridge and guided barges towards the safety of Combles lock.

88 km – Chatillon-sur-Loire bridge (1951) Land right for campsite (click here) and parking. Left for the village.


Don’t worry that landing left will leave you on the island. A spiral ramp gives access to the bridge.


Just below the bridge, Combles lock gates right, connect to the original canal de Briare.

91 km – Aqueduct de Briare (1896)  Briare right

briare-aqueduct briare-aqueduct2 briare-aqueduct3

92 km – Briare canal lock right No longer in much use since the aqueduct opened. But looks like it still functions

briare-canal-loire-lock2 briare-loire-lock

The vineyards on the low hills to the right are the Coteaux de Giennois, the tiniest Loire appellation.

The red and white wines are collector’s pieces, the ‘insider’s alternative’ to Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé (Hugh Johnson), much cheaper than Sancerre, and rather good, but few ever leave France. The winery Domaine Poupat in Briare (click here) is the place to buy them.

98 km – Gien D951 bridge (1980)


99 km – Gien old bridge (1734). Gien right. Home of Gien china (click here)

gien-bridge gien-bridge2    

Camping Gien left bank 200 metres downstream of bridge (Click here)

100 km – Railway bridge (1893)


106 km – Weir. Inflow channel to Dampierre nuclear power plant right. Portage/line down left end of the weir. More details here


117 km – Sully-sur-Loire road bridge (1986). Chateau de Sully left.  The map marks a campsite left a few hundred metres upstream of the bridge, but I think it may have closed. All I could find was a large RV park.


Followed by rail bridge. S-s-L left. Saint-Pere-sur-Loire right


Land right just below the railway bridge for a tiny campsite with no facilities associated with a canoe hire company.


Or 100 metres further on for the Camping Le Jardin de Sully (click here) with all facilities.


123 km – Bouteille left. Good access.

125 km – Saint Benoit-sur-Loire right.  Camping Le Port right.  (click here)

130 km – Sigloy left. Village not visible from the river but you can hire traditional Loire boat trips from here. (Click here)


132km Chateauneuf sur Loir bridge.  C-s-L right.


Camping La Maltournee left 300 metres upstream of the bridge. (Click here)


Next year Chateauneuf to Tours!

Jim Thornton

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