“ ASTER, a Unique Péniche in France ”
Built in 1951 in the department Cher, this péniche has seen its first glorious years as a means of transport for goods on the Canal du Nivernais. The propulsion of the ASTER has been changed several times.
At first, it was drawn along the rivers and canals by haulers, later horses dragged the freighter, which transported coal.
In the Fifties the boat was finally equipped with a motor - and thus it has become one of the rare examples of a péniche with a Motogodille (sporting an outboard motor with a second shaft onto which the propeller is fastened).
The Seventies were marked by the decline of river transportation, which also endangered the future of the ASTER.
It was a narrow escape for the péniche when, after the intervention of Charles MITTERAND (then a representative for Nièvre), she was bought by the Conseil Général de la Nièvre (the General Council of the department Nièvre)
and converted into a passenger vessel. The ASTER lived up to her new role and sailed thousands of guests along the Canal du Nivernais.
The turn of the century stands for the start of major works on the ASTER, so that she would conform to the valid regulations and could be used for navigation also in future.
For the first repair works alone more than 2,000,000 F (300,000 €) had to be mobilized – and the total costs proved themselves to be too much to be borne by the community.
As a result, the ASTER, the last freighter made of wood, was lying alongside the quay as if in lethargy, no longer having the required permissions for navigation.
In 2014, after four years in which passionate boat lovers had strained their brains in several meetings, the department Nièvre decided to give the ASTER to the association AQUA of Saint-Jean-de-Losne,
which has taken over the task to preserve this river heritage. As a consequence, the ASTER was dry-docked at the beginning of May to make her ready for her great voyage: the rudder, the motor, and the propulsion system were restored.
The 31st of May 2014 was a day of great emotions: the last wooden péniche leaves Saint-Léger-Les-Vignes in the department Loire-Atlantique and navigates to her new home port of Saint-Jean-de-Losne in the department Côte-d'Or:
a voyage of more than 360 km with 78 locks within 7 days.
This boat, a real historic monument, is now moored in the marina in Saint-Jean-de-Losne, where it is being refurbished by a large number of volunteers. It is foreseen that the work will be completed in the year 2017.
The association AQUA needs donations (deductible from tax) to be able to continue the refurbishment of this péniche. Each donation will contribute to give a new life to this remembrance place.
> Discover the voyage of the ASTER
> More information on this wooden péniche