On our way to locks outside Mons we were turned back. The Elcuse Havré ‘ete en panne,’ the lock was ‘broken down’ in French, said the lock keeper. It should be fixeb bu noon Monday so we had to spend Saturday night and Sunday at the municipal harbor of Mons. It is a city with some significant delights, fortunately.
On Sunday we made for the Grande Place, the central square. It is a lined with buildings from many centuries in multiple styles, attractive nonetheless, with an oval shape center filled with flowers, sculptures and pedestrian walking zones. There are numerous bars and restaurants. Periods of sun and times without rain is enough to fill the square with locals and tourists. As normal in Belgium, there’s a whole lot of beer drinking going on, meaning one beer and an hour or two of conversation.
Mons has been with us since around the 12th century but it was occupied well before that, with neolithic roots. The Romans called it Castrilocus for the castrum (fort) they built there, evolving into Montes for the mountain and then Mons.
On Monday we hope to continue our journey, taking a day or more to ascend a series of locks where the locks themselves are lifted, rather than a channel being filled with water. This technology dates from the early 20th century. One of these locks rises 75 meters! I will write about this in the next blog.