Lille - Canal de la Lys - Douai - Lille

St Venant

St Venant was a lovely mooring that included free water, electricity and WiFi. The setting was beautiful and there were canal side walks for Tilly. The local town had a nice central café and great patisseries. We met some fellow French boaters who were very friendly and after having them over for coffee mid-morning we visited them for aperitifs on their boat. It was so nice we stayed for 3 days before moving on.

Narrow stretch

Brushing the tree overhangs on each side and not much water around us. The speed stayed at about 5 km/hr no matter what revs we tried because of interaction with the banks.

Big sook

Big sook!

Lock keepers

The lock keepers stay with you for 2 locks and a lift bridge after St. Venant, driving ahead in their little white van. We were not sure who was more bowled over, Tilly or the lock keeper but they both seemed to enjoy the attention, those holiday romances!

Then we were out onto the canal de la Deûle again and while keeping the same revs on the engine, our speed shot up to 8.5km/h. That may seem slow to normal folk but after 5 days at 4 or 5km/h it seemed fast! We went just past the entrance to Bethune and stopped at the mooring dolphins in a large lay-by. They seem to be a standard 25m apart so Waterdog can just straddle 2 of them by resting one side of the bow against the forward one and the stern quarter against the aft one. We tie up tight with tyres forced between the hull and the wooden fender or, in some cases, the rusty steel. In the early evening the remaining dolphins filled up with bigger commercial barges.
As it went dark we heard kids shouting and laughing on the bank, then the crash rattle of stones hitting the boat! The local trailer kids were using us as evening entertainment, so after shouting various Frenchisms at them we got a security guard to call the police. The kids had run away about 300m to see how long we would look out for them but when the Gendarmes arrived they scarpered. Luckily no damage was done and it was just ‘kids stuff’.


We were off early for a bigger day’s cruise to Pont á Vendin where we stayed on 25m dolphins again and the next day to Douai where there is a very large barging community. We moored to 25m dolphins but pointing at the bank and using a ladder to get off with. This seemed a secure way of mooring, given that you could retract the ladder at night.

Tilly in Douai

Tilly in Douai town centre, annoyingly barking at all the French dogs but otherwise being cute.

Pair of barges

A pair of commercial barges which were being painted whilst tied up here. The bows and sterns were designed for pushing their twin and they had made a nice job of painting them. There was free water here so we filled up before leaving on the 3rd day.

Douai moorings

We stayed 3 days in Douai as a gale came through and there was plenty to see. The walk to the town centre was mainly along the canal side and took about 30 minutes each way. Waterdog looks long here when on her own, but looks small against the commercial barges.

Depart Douai

We left Douai in very heavy rain for our trip to Hauboudin but as long as you have good waterproofs and a wiper this isn’t a problem. Tilly got soaked but she doesn’t seem to mind rain and still likes to get off at locks. Here she is keeping a look out where I usually have the laptop navigation, since we were going over this area for the 2nd time we didn’t use the laptop.

At Houbourdin we tied to 25m bollards on a concrete quay not far from the town hall for a brief overnight stop.
From Hauboudin we returned to Port de Lille so we could have our visitors from England.