Building a forgotten Ligerian boat
The “Chalandoux du 5e Vent” association wanted to build a 15-tonne, 18-metre-long gabarot barge, long-vanished ancestor of the “bateau nantais”, for use in cultural and educational activities… and to adorn Chalonnes-sur-Loire’s restored quays. With the help of a good many sponsors and volunteers and after almost 3 years in the boatyard, the barge was finally launched on 24 June 2017 and initial activities organised for the summer.
Between 2009 and 2011, the town of Chalonnes-sur-Loire restored the quays on the banks of the Loire, which have been transformed into true public spaces, invitations to experience the river close up.
Building a boat without a drawing
It took a year and a half’s research to get the project on its feet. Construction of these freight boats, which made their final voyages in the 1950s, depended on individual boat-builders, each of whom had their own idiosyncrasies and, instead of drawings, relied on orally transmitted knowhow.
Chalonnes-sur-Loire Town Hall made a 200-m² piece of land available as a site for the building housing the project.
As well as the many volunteers who came forward, construction employed the expertise of numerous local craftspeople.
The association was able to mobilise partners for funding the project as well as obtain skills sponsorships, and also got the public at large involved with the sale of “Ligerian shortbread” cakes.
A project with an educational slant
The boatyard was regularly open to the public and schoolchildren while the barge was being built, receiving several thousand visitors and so contributing to the reappropriation of the river and boat-building knowhow.
Assessment and prospects
The gabarot’s launch attracted several thousand spectators, on the quays and riverbank and on the water itself.
Theme-based activities are now on offer, centred on discovery of the Loire, river transport, landscapes, vine and wine, and other themes connected with the river.
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L’équipe de la Mission Val de Loire.