French Canal Holiday: Hesse to Strasbourg

8-11 June 2011


In continuing persistent rain, Stephen and Sarah made a visit to get fresh bread and stock up on groceries. After filling up the tanks with water (incidentally, this was the first boat we've had with a water gauge - why is that small civility apparently unusual?) we set off, still with rain falling but rather less heavily.

The first lock appeared to be stuck, and Alan and Lucy went to investigate. As they arrived at the lock the man from VNF arrived and fixed the lock, allowing this large barge which had been below to come through.

Passing the bassin d'Austerlitz

Back through the Bassin des Remparts

A group of ducklings got stuck in the lock with us, but seemed happier to risk the strong water flows around the gates than be near the boat.

Sheila at the wheel

Lucy checks out the route; Sarah looks puzzled by Kurt Wallander's activities.

So it's up all the way back to Hesse - Sheila on the front rope helps keep the boat secure as the water surges in.

Lucy at the stern rope.

You may have noticed a pattern in the place names we've passed through. This signpost in Mommenheim really doesn't look like it is French.

A stork's nest balanced ratherly precariously on top of a pylon right next to the railway in Mommenheim. Unfortunately the restaurants in Mommenheim and Walternheim were closed, so it was a make-do evening on board after we'd got a few groceries from the boulangerie.


After an early morning party had been back to the boulangerie for fresh bread, we were underway again.

After yesterday's gloom and rain, it was a pleasant morning.

Lucy at the wheel as Alan checks the map.

Jane on the front rope

Passing Hochfelden where we walked for Monday night's dinner.

The lock cottages have no fixed pattern - this is the cottage by lock 38.

After the extensive arable fields of the Zom and the Rhine generally, we are approaching the town of Saverne and the beginning of the Vosges where the canal's surrounds are very different.

We moored for the night in Saverne and found a pleasant restaurant - Lucy has an unusual looking drink.

The view of the chateau from our mooring spot.


After an early morning walk around Saverne to get fresh croissants and some bread for lunch, it was time to get on the move again.

In the deep lock in Saverne, Alan holds the front rope and looks steeply up

The canal, road, mainline Paris-Strasbourg railway and river Zom all crowd into this narrow valley

Getting the ropes round the high up bollards without braving the ladder was something of a challenge - here you can see the two coils uncoiling as they carry the loop of the rope around the bollard.

A disused lift-bridge lies in front of this lock. You can also see how faint were the green lights on most of the locks.

Hello down there!

Stephen ready to steer the boat out of the lock

And so we have finished our last lock of the holiday. Just the inclined plane (behind) remains to lift us up to the summit level.

The caisson on its way down to meet us

Sarah at the wheel as our boat is carried up the hillside

A look back at the lower level

A look through the tunnel shows a boat coming towards us (hence the red light)

After the two tunnels we stopped again at Niderviller where we returned to Sunday night's auberge for our final French meal out.


The last morning, and Alan is at the wheel taking us part of the way back to Hesse and the boatyard.

We cleared the boat, Stephen took Jane and Sarah to Sarrebourg for their train, and then the other four of us headed home. We had a smooth journey across France, had lunch in Luxembourg, then Belgium with an afternoon break near Brussels, and back into France for the tunnel at Calais.

We got an earlier train than planned, this time going onto the upper deck.

Exiting the train onto English soil once more.

Quite a different holiday from the English canal holidays, and very enjoyable. We have no definite plans yet for next year - time will tell!



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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson