Okay.... let's stop - the first lock wouldn't work and so, once again, my French was tested when I called the VNF to let them know. (VNF manage the waterways network).
Now, something usually happens at locks and in our relaxed state we sat back and waited. After a few fidgety minutes we decided it was a good idea to read the signs and leaflets thoughtfully left by the lock-keepers.
It's here we collected our automatic remote control - the next section of locks would be opened via pressing buttons on this device. A lock-keeper turned up, sorted us out and we were finally set to go!