On the 11th June we leave Toul and head for Nancy. This takes us onto the major waterway of the Moselle river. We get another taste of 180 x 12 m locks and barges of up to 3000 tons. The canal into Nancy is tame in comparison we are now on the Marne au Rhin canal. Nancy a large city has many interesting buildings and a great indoor market. We visit the famous Stanislas square.
My mother arrives for the week with us as we travel to Saverne in the Alsace.
We leave Nancy and head east again towards Strasbourg and the Rhine but within a couple of days our next problem hits us. We run out of fuel. Fortunately just as we moor up in Einville-au-Jard. The following day with jerry cans in hand and taxi fares paid we manage to fuel up enough to get to Lagarde. Here is a lovely Marina with a fabulous restaurant and the all important fuel station.
My mother is enjoying the trip and laughs when Angus our Bassett hound falls into the canal. The dogs have taken to living aboard very well. We leave Largarde and continue on our journey. As we moor, we run into rental boat full of German’s. We have great fun with them drinking into the night. The next day we avoid the old set of 16 locks by using the relatively new Inclined Plane. This engineering marvel takes the boat down an inclined plane to the canal which is 45 meters below.
The end of the day sees us in Lutzelbourg. Snuggled in the middle of a canyon, it’s a pretty town with plenty of moorings and another good restaurant. The next day we go further down the canal and enter the city of Saverne. The marina is big but full. We end up mooring against Domingot a helpful French couple on their live aboard barge become friends with us. My mum leaves tomorrow. Saverne turns out to be a gem, The harbour is overlooking the Rohan palace and gardens its a fabulous spot. As we walk up into town we realise that architecture has now changed and is very Germanic. The high street is sided with tudor style buildings and again Saverne has some good restaurants.
The next day we run Mum to the airport and take the hire car into the Vosges mountains. We visit the Dabo church. The church is standing on top of a rocky escarpment high in the Vosges mountains and has great views. We also visit some small villages in the area. It’s time to get going (25th June). Leaving Saverne we head east again towards Strasbourg. It takes us a few days but eventually we end up in Soufelwiersheim, a small town with free
electricity and water on their town pontoon. The town is pristine not a brick misplaced. From here we use the bus service to get into Strasbourg. It makes sense to leave Victor here for a few days.
Half hour on the bus puts us in Strasbourg and we are met with a picture postcard city. The Cathederal towers above the city and has outstanding leaded glass as well as the famous Astronomical clock. Its all well worth seeing. Strasbourg is obviously a wealthy city you can see this by the shops and the money spent on it. The city is also surrounded with canals and you can take any one of several tourist boats around the city. It would be a perfect destination for a weekend break.
From here we could go up the Rhine to the Rhone au Rhin canal but decide that going against the Rhine is going to take some time. Also we are not sure if we are allowed on the Rhine anyway. So the next several days we retrace our steps back to Nancy. Here we take on more fuel and head up the Nancy branch to meet up with the Vosges canal. We will be on this canal a few weeks its 130km long. The first stop on the canal a larger barge than us moors in front of us. We meet Joe and Iris Becker on Alto Iris. Joe proves to be a mindful of information just what I need later on down the canal when my batteries fail.
Our next major town on the Vosges canal is Epinal. The marina offers water and electricity and has a great restaurant on the harbour front called The Capitanerre Just what we need. 10 days in Epinal is great, we cycle around the city, visit the market and the Printing museum. We also attend and watch the firework display for Bastille day. We meet David and Anne on Cassandra as well as David and Janet Marston on Rosina.
We leave Epinal and head for our next destination Fontenoy-le-Chateau. The marina is fine but we find the town a little run down. In the marina is Alto Iris and Cassandra we will travel with these boats for the next couple of weeks. In Selles we book a table at the local Bistro overlooking the canal and celebrate Kate’s birthday along with David,Anne, Joe and Iris. These are good friends and we have a fine meal, well priced too. The weather is getting hot again but at least there is no commercial traffic on this canal. Some of the locks are showing their age mind and the canal is often closed for repairs. After a couple of days in Corre we leave the Vosges canal and enter the Soane.
The Soane meanders through beautiful countryside and there are many villages for us to explore on the way so we get our bicycles out. Our next problem arises when the batteries don’t seem to be charging properly. Joe Becker’s battery tester shows up the problem, 3 of the 6 domestic batteries have failed. So when we get to our next destination Port-sur-Soane we have them replaced. We spend 5 days in Port-sur-Soane and go swimming in the local outdoor pool as well as walks along the Soane river it seems to be getting really hot, it’s now August.
Keeping pace with Alto Iris and Cassandra brings us to our next stop, Gray. We watch the firework display over the river and again wine and dine with our friends. A couple of days further on we reach Auxonne . This is where Alto Iris will be leaving us as they are staying here for winter. Further down again is Saint-Jean-de-Losne this is where Cassandra will stop for winter. So we say goodbye to our friends, I’m sure we will meet up again. The temps are hitting 100deg F so we jump into the river and cool down along with the French. The heat is getting unbearable.
We don’t continue down the Soane but decide to head back up the Doobs river, Rhone au Rhin canal and the Rhine itself to reach Strasbourg again. This will take at least 5 weeks. The Doobs is a lovely river cutting and meandering through the foothills of the Alps. We are now in Franche Comte and have been told that Dole is a beautiful town. Dole is almost mediaeval to look at. Perched atop the hillside from the marina it’s superb to explore. The small indoor market is a gem and the streets surround what is a magnificent cathedral. We plan to visit Dole again. We are still getting 100deg days, so we join the French down the town beach, built on a bend in the river. We really need to cool down. David and June join us for drinks on Victor they have bumped into us again.
After 4 days in Dole we head upriver towards Besancon. At Thoraise we manage to moor just before the tunnel. Local artists have fixed sculptures around the marina and you should see what they have done to the tunnel. Next morning we leave Thoraise. After a few miles Angus our Bassett hound Yelps trying to get up the stairs, he has lost the use of his back legs so a vet is needed.
Our first job in Besancon is to get a taxi and get Angus to the Vet. Prognosis is not good his spinal chord sciatic nerve is trapped and he will not regain the use of his legs. 4 days later he is put to sleep. This is a sad event for us. Angus was a real presence on the boat and will be sadly missed, but as the French vet said that’s life. The care he received was exemplary.
Besancon turned out to be an amazing city, nestled in a horseshoe made by the river, the streets were charming and great to explore. We hired a car and so ventured out into Franche Comte. Besancon is where Ramond Blanc comes from and we decided to follow his TV show and visit the restaurants and places he did. It was a good move.
The next week took us to the Jura and the country restaurant at Port Lesney, we also visited the smoked meat centre at Pappy Gabby, walked the town and vineyard’s at Chateau Chalon where Vin Jaune is made and visited some great restaurants in Besancon. We celebrate 12 months on Victor at the 1802 restaurant.
At the end of August we left Besancon and headed north towards Montbelliard and Mulhouse. At Mulhouse we caught the tram to the biggest market in the region and stocked up on food. We also visited the railway museum which gave an amazing history to French railways. From here the Rhine awaits us. We are still not sure if we can use the river but take the risk anyway.The Rhine was like all other major waterways. Huge locks, big ships and here at least boring scenery. We were glad to leave the Rhine and head up to Colmar. We arrived in Colmar on 9th September.
The weather is cooling and just right for Kate and me now. Colmar takes on that Germanic feel as we have left Franche Comte and are now in the Alsace. We hire a car again and explore. The wine region of Alsace runs behind Colmar up to Saverne and beyond. There are many pretty chocolate box villages to explore with wine tasting everywhere. We particularly enjoyed Riquewier where we tried Table de Gourmet a three star Michelin restaurant. It didn’t work for us we won’t spend silly money doing Michelin star again.
A short trip down the Rhine and we enter the northern branch of the Rhone au Rhin canal.A couple of days on this and we end up in Strasbourg. On the way muddy waters contaminate the exhaust cooling on Victor’s engine so its slow going as we don’t want to overheat. On 19th Sept we arrive at port de l’hopital in Strasbourg. We are 5min walk from the city centre.
After taking in Strasbourg for a second time this year we leave and pass the European courts building on our way to Soufelwiersheim. We see several storks flying and on their nests as we go. A week later we arrive back in Saverne, one of our favourite French towns. Over the next few days I hire a car again and travel the region with mother in tow. When she returns to England we will head back along the Marne au Rhin canal up the inclined plane this time and onto Nancy. A couple of days more and we arrive in Toul to moor for the final time this year. Its early October we are now on our winter mooring.
The last six months has been exciting and challenging at the same time. We have travelled over 2000 miles and gone through more than 600 locks. Roll on next year !!