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“Fascinating, inexpensive, well worth a visit”

Fontinettes Boat Lift
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Arques
Attraction details
Reviewed June 17, 2014

Fontinelles Boat Lift is a hydraulically operated lift built in the 1860s to obviate a flight of locks. Ceased work in 1967 & now preserved (on a shoestring) with a small but excellent museum. Lifted section of canal through about 40feet, now replaced by one huge lock nearby which we also visited, and saw in operation with a pair of massive barges.

1  Thank DavidLondon2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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10 - 14 of 39 reviews

Reviewed August 24, 2012

This is one of those sites that have a lot of potential, but that are not well worked out. The museum is small and does not have a lot of clear information on the boat lift itself - it's still not clear to me how the lift works.

The lift is also easily viewable from outside the museum - I suggest to spend some time walking around it instead (which is a puzzle on itself - check a map). The museum is cheap though (4 euros per person), so it also doesn't hurt to take a look inside.

1  Thank jakniksjakie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 17, 2012

This is a good example of an old technology (hydraulics) put to solve a problem - raising and lowering barges a difference of over 13 metres between the rivers Lys and Aa. It had previously taken 5 locks to achieve this and was the local miracle of the age when it opened in 1887. It was replaced with a new super-lock in 1967 and came close to being demolished, but for the efforts of local people to save it.

La Fontinettes is preserved 'as-is', rather than tarted-up, and is the better for it. There is an exhibition room with photographs and diagrams, many of them in English. The repair workshops are open to view and there is a video (in French but easily followable) made in 1967, just weeks before the lift became redundant. Nearby is a colourful retired barge, complete with what seems to be the contents of the owner's life.

The custodian was very welcoming and gave us an explanation in basic English. There is a free leaflet in English and more detailed material on sale in French. It's normally possible to walk along the tow-path to view the modern lock but we were denied the experience, due to road works. Closed between 12 noon and 2pm. Recommended.

1  Thank Father-Brian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 10, 2012

We had seen the signs for the boat lift on the motorway for years, but only recently managed to go there recently.

It's in a bit of a sorry state, but is an amazing technical feat. It was built to replace a flight of 5 locks and was in use until the 1960s. A small museum run by a very enthusiastic man. It consists of the lift itself, and three rooms one of which has a lot of machinery etc used, one has a film made in the 60s just before it closed. The commentary is in French, but the pictures are great (including a man using a poinetd stick to show something!). The toilets are immaculate.

From the lift it is a nice walk along the disused bit of the canal to the new lock, and you can take a boat trip from a landing stage at the lift (booking advised as there was quite a queue waiting when we visited).

If you've been to the lift at Ironbridge or the Wheel at Falkirk, it provides a fascinating picture of boat lifts through the years. It closes at lunchtime, I think and the entrance was 4Euros

4  Thank Bev w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 15, 2017
Google Translation

Thank Gilles H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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