Friday, 19 April 2019

Lack of Rain is Threatening Chenonceau

The level of the River Cher is much too low for April and it threatens the foundations of the Chateau of Chenonceau, which ultimately sits on wooden piles driven into the riverbed. There hasn't been enough rain this winter, and the lack of water is putting the stone arches of the long gallery at risk.

The water level has never been this low before and there is concern that the wooden piles may soon be dry. With barely 30 centimetres of water for the past few weeks, the chateau is becoming vulnerable to vibration and cracking. The curator, Laure Menier, admits she is tremendously worried, not least because she dreads making an announcement of a catastrophe in the year of the 500th anniversary of Catherine de Medici's birth.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Inspecting the foundations of the chateau mid-April 2019.

Normally, at this time of year the depth of the river at Chenonceau is around 1.2 metres. The lack of rain in the catchment area this winter, particularly in Cher and Indre, is causing the knock-on effect in Indre et Loire.

As a result, the manager of the organisation in charge of the maintenance and improvement of the Cher, a State-owned river, has called for a derogation so the needle weir at Civray de Touraine can be raised early, so as to allow the water to back up to Chenonceau.

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
You can see how shallow the water is around the chateau, and where the normal waterline is.

The problem is that there is a European Directive which requires that the needle dams stay lowered until the end of May, to permit the passage of migrating fish.

There is a project to create a bypass for fish and canoeists around the needle dam, but it has not yet commenced, and the fear is may come too late.

Further Reading: Article in the Nouvelle République (in French).


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Le Pré de la Forge said...

I think that for this year at least, they should just re-needle and sod the odd eel that hasn't made it.... and, for once, sod the directive!!

Rhodesia said...

Priorities obviously - which is most important? Happy Easter Diane

Susan said...

In fact, I've just seen the headlines, and that is what they have done it seems.

Susan said...

This year, Chenonceau, next year the bypass will be in place.

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