Tuesday 16th May looked to be another warm and sunny day. A few errands in the morning meant we didnt depart until around 11:30. The route out of Nancy took us through a few kilometres of industrial area with lots of loading quays. A significant proportion of this industry is a large salt factory which still transports via the waterways. We were also starting to notice a few hire boats. There are a fair few hire bases between Nancy and Strasbourg and we had read previously that these boats could sometimes cause a few issues due to the inexperience of the drivers. Most were fine, but there were a few who caused a bit of a problem, for example by not being aware that greater speeds cause greater amounts of wash and that has an impact on other vessels. As a matter of courtesy, most boats we had encountered so far would slow down to pass, but this didnt always happen with the hire boats.
The temperature increased as the day wore on – by mid afternoon, I was down to bikini top and shorts and Cy at one point was in his kilt. Just his kilt…..
We chose to moor alongside the bank by a tiny village called Crevic.
By this time, we had passed the industrial zone and the canal was getting greener and more beautiful. It was a lovely spot, although the village itself had little to offer. It seemed to us, that the smaller the village, the more insistent the church bell ringing. Crevic was no exception.
In the morning, we headed off just before 9am. As Crevic was sadly lacking in the boulangerie department, we stopped briefly at Einville-au-Jard about an hour later. Cy stayed onboard while I toddled off in search of lunch fodder. I was quite taken with Einville. For a large village/small town, there was a lot of effort made for visitors. The mooring place was excellent, a large cut out in the canal with water and electric. There were no mooring fees as such, but if you wanted water/electric/access to the showers you could purchase tokens. These were available from local businesses, encouraging boaters into the town, brilliant! In addition, there were lots of plaques dotted around town with English translations. I particularly remember the one on the old synagogue which gave the date that the Jewish residents of the town were taken to Aushwitz.
Once the baguette had been procured, we carried on again. There were a fair number of locks to get through and it was very hot, so we decided to call it quits at a nice looking pontoon area near the village of Moussey. Once we had tied up, I headed off to check out the information,they were charging 10 euros per night just to stay there, you had to pay extra for water and electric. This did not please me at all. In the end, we just paid 1 euro for a water fill up, which we were pretty desperate for, and moved on a bit further up the canal and tied up at the waiting area prior to the next lock. It was a quiet rural area and seemed perfectly safe. After a long walk along the canal, past a couple of abandoned factories and through a housing estate, we eventually located the grocery store. It was fairly sparse, and had an unusual arrangement where it was half bar, half supermarket. We bought a couple of beers from the fridge and a bag of peanuts and setled ourselves on a nearby picnic table to enjoy them. We then wandered back to Doris, via a more direct route.
The village of Moussey does not have many shops and businesses, but it does have a petrol station. It was about a 20 minute walk from the canal, so I trundled off with my trolley bright and early the following morning while Cy was carrying out engine checks. The countryside was beginning to look and feel a bit different, more Germanic as we were getting closer to the border. We stopped just before midday at the village of Gondrexange, hoping to get fresh bread. Sadly, the village shop looked like it closed down a couple of years ago.
We stopped a bit earlier in the afternoon than usual at Niderviller, just close to the entrance of the first of two tunnels. It was quite a walk to the town, but we made it. Niderviller used to have a thriving tile making industry and evidence of this was all around.
Sadly, it no longer exists in the same way, although there is some small scale ceramics production and a wonderful shop. Common sense prevailed and we chose not to buy anything as the likelihood of any ceramic purchases making it back to the UK in one, or even two pieces seemed quite low. Couldn’t resist a cake from the boulangarie/patisserie though! The weather stayed warm into the evening and we ate our dinner outside on deck.
We were woken early by heavy rain which continued throughout the day. The first part of the day was spent in tunnels, the Niderviller tunnel (475m) and the Arzviller tunnel (2306m).
There were no delays and we were out of them by 08:30. Next up today was the Arzviller inclined plane. This was built to replace a chain of 16ish locks and is a pretty nifty bit of engineering. You basically drive in, tie up and then the whole chamber goes down (or up) around 40m.
The process was much quicker than we were expecting and the experience probably would have been better without the driving rain, but it was fun! The VNF man looking after it also gave us a fender which had fallen off a hire boat. On the inland waterways, in a fibreglass boat, you can never have too many fenders.
The rain carried on throughout the day, which made it quite heavy going.
We had thought about stopping at Saverne as it is supposed to be a lovely place to explore and there is the old Duke’s palace up on the hill to walk up to. With the weather as it was, there was no chance of us going sightseeing, so we decided to carry on. We called it quits for the day at Dettwiler. The mooring place itself was excellent, a widening of the canal, possibly from an old loading quay and good quality quayside and bollards to tie to. It was directly opposite an industrial estate though, so not too pretty. Amazingly, about an hour or so after we had tied up, the skies cleared and it turned into a beautiful evening. Even more amazingly, Cy suggested going for a walk. We wandered along the tow path and as far as the next lock. That was enough for Cy, so he returned to Doris and I headed off to check out the town. It was a bit of a walk, but absolutely worth it. Dettwiler is a great little town, seemingly thriving with a couple of boulangeries, supermarket and a few bars/restaurants. The church is at the centre and tents had been set up around it for a book fair/food festival the following evening. I headed back to the boat and Cy, eager for my dinner. At this point we were getting very close to Strasbourg, which would mark the end of our time in France.