(44) A visit from June and Nigel and the Arzviller bathtub – Early October 2012.

The remainder of our cruise to Souffelweyersheim was not without incident. The first lock of the day refused to open, which infuriated our fisherman friend even more as we had to wait in his fishing spot. The fortuitous arrival of a lock keeper averted a national incident and we were soon on our way again.

As we approached our destination, I pulled on the ‘perche’; a pole which is supposed to activate the lock which was out of sight around a bend. As the lock’s lights came into view we realised it had not and Peter had to reverse the barge 300metres back to the pole around the bend. Not easy in a 70 + ton 25m barge! It was only then that I realised the pole had been swung over the suspending wire which had negated my efforts to pull it! Fortunately, I was able to use the boat hook to flip it back over and this time my ‘pull’ worked.

Souffelweyersheim.

We moored just above the lock at Souffelweyersheim for two nights and paid for electrics on the second. The town was very pretty and whilst cycling on the Sunday I chanced upon a huge ‘Vide Grenier’(like a car boot sale in the street) and market which brought it to life.

With a week to wait until the arrival of June and Nigel from Alderney (the French derivation ‘Aurigny’ needing no explanation); we decided to stop at the next available mooring and were pleased to discover an ideal one in a forest at Brumath, another very German sounding name. In fact this part of France – Alsace seems ever more German than French, at least as far as place names go. We used the time to relax and also wash and paint out the scratches on the hull. I enjoyed several walks in the nearby forest collecting sweet chestnuts as I went.

In the middle of a forest near Brumath. A surprisingly good mooring.

June and Nigel arrived in Strasbourg one evening after their rather complicated journey which included two aeroplane trips and a long train ride. Peter met them at the station and we enjoyed catching up on each other’s news.

Two commercials, either mating or having lunch and blocking the canal.

The weather became somewhat unsettled as we set off into the first of a chain of automatic locks, which work themselves once you are in the first one. In fact the chains did much to determine where we stopped, as it was easier to complete a chain of locks and then stop for the night. Each time, I cycled back to collect the car which is a pleasant form of purposeful exercise.

Hochfelden, a memorial to some very brave young men.

After two ‘wild’ stops, we arrived at the unusually French sounding town of Saverne and moored just above the rather awkward town lock outside the VNF office. That evening, after a short walk around the centre we were treated to a great meal and hoped to spend some more time there later.

After collecting the car and dropping it in town the next day, we discovered the inconvenience of stopping within a chain of locks. The light was red and the gates were closed as our approach had not triggered the locking process. I popped up to the lock and rang the VNF on the intercom and within seconds the lock began to empty.

After Saverne the canal follows the winding contours of the valley.

The countryside was very pretty as the valley wound through wooded hills to the picturesque town of Lutzelbourg, where we had a choice of several well appointed moorings.  We stayed there two nights and enjoyed exploring the town and ruined chateau which overlooked it, as well as scrumping apples which were in plentiful supply along the banks.

Making the best of a rare sunny lunchtime during this cold spell.

The view from the ruins showing road, rail and canal.

 Beautifully sculptured from local stone.

We had intended to take the bus back to Saverne to collect the car and explore some more, but having waited twenty-five minutes were informed by a passerby that the buses no longer ran. Instead, I took the train back and on my return we drove to Arzviller to view the inclined plane which we hoped to use the following day.

We walked part way along the towpath of the original canal with its seventeen locks. It was derelict and full of weeds, but quite interesting nonetheless. We also managed a sneak preview of the inclined plane from the road below.

Nicci has a Mary Poppins moment as we walk along the path of the old lock staircase at Arzvillers.

Could be a little slow going along here.

An interesting walk along the 17 old locks.

We were pleased to awake to a fine day and left Lutzelbourg in sunshine. We arrived at the empty moorings below the inclined plane and waited while the huge ‘bath tub’ descended with its cargo of hire boats. Soon it was our turn and we cruised in followed by a hire boat. We were soon gliding sideways up the hill-side towards the canal 45 metres above in what is basically a moving lock.

Our first proper view of the inclined plane at Arzviller.

Nigel watches as the giant bathtub descends.

Here’s hoping.

Moving off.

It all happens too quickly –  great fun.

Nearly up.

This way out.

They seem to delight in putting tight tunnel entrances on bends !

At the top, we let the hire boat pass as we knew that we would be much slower through the impending tunnels. These are one way only and are controlled by lights at each end.

Tunnels are always tricky for a large barge and these ones were no exception. The lighting was erratic, sometimes blindingly bright and sometimes non-existent, which made steering and distance judgement very difficult. The broken wooden rail at the edges also caused problems catching our fenders and causing one to break off completely. Fortunately we were able to reverse and pick it up.

By the time we reached the end, over 3km later, we were both weary with eyes out on stalks. Fortunately, there was ample mooring and we eventually decided upon a spot on the left bank by the VNF office and behind an ex-commercial. We had arrived at Niderviller.

June who hates heights and tunnels, had spent much of the day inside the barge preparing our evening meal of roast lamb followed by apple pie. It was delicious and very welcome after what had been a tiring day.

Oh dear !

Unfortunately, the weather worsened and the next day Peter offered to cycle back for the car. I was quite relieved as the towpath to Lutzelbourg was not as straightforward as it could have been and he ended up getting lost in a forest and soaked. The rest of us relaxed on board.

As June and Nigel were leaving the next day, we drove to the station at Sarrebourg to buy their train tickets and do some shopping. We then headed off towards Hesse where we moored in a ‘wild’ spot out of the town. After fetching the car, we drove further west to recce the moorings.

A frosty morning at Hesse.

We were all up early in the morning and were surprised to have to scrape frost off the car before we could drive to the station. We had enjoyed a lovely week together and now June and Nigel would continue their holiday with friends in Switzerland.

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2 Responses to (44) A visit from June and Nigel and the Arzviller bathtub – Early October 2012.

  1. Maria Stephen says:

    Hi Nicci and Peter I have so enjoyed hearing all your news, reading your exploits and looking at the photos. Trust the remainder of your journey goes well till you stop for the winter. Thinking of you both. Much love, Maria (Stephen) xx

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