(45) To Toul and our winter mooring – October 2012.

With four days before our next friends (Chris, Erf and Toby) joined us, we cruised steadily west in reasonable weather. This enabled me to cycle back to collect the car without too much trouble. En route we filled up with water at the VNF office in Gondrexange and acquired some logs from the forest. We also crossed the First World War Maginot Line and the old border between France and Germany (now the delineation between Alsace and Lorraine). The countryside took on a more French appearance as did the names of the towns and villages.

Passing the entrance to the Sarre which could take us straight into Germany, another time maybe.

We encountered a couple of commercial barges, one of which took up the entire lock at 39 m by 5.50m. It had collected a cargo of wheat near Avignon a couple of weeks earlier and was heading for Mannheim.

At Rechicourt, we were surprised at the depth of the lock (16m) on what is quite a small canal. However it does bypass 7 old locks which are now derelict rather like those at Arzvillers.

Here we were given a zapper which worked in a different way to our previous one. A  couple of hundred metres from the lock there is a post which invites you to aim the zapper at the receiver on top. This sends a signal to the lock which activates and is a better system than the ones that you aim at the lock itself.

Rechicourt lock with some of our foraged logs.

Just like a slim Rhine lock.

We moored below the lock overnight and Peter took the opportunity of chainsawing some of our logs, enabling us to enjoy our first wood fire of the autumn.

Nicci clearing up the sawdust.

We were joined at Xures by Chris, Erf and Toby, who stopped over to see us on their way back to England from their home in the Gironde. They were keen to visit Strasbourg, so we drove there and spent an enjoyable Saturday in the old city which was buzzing with activity in the autumn sunshine.

One of the purpose-built passenger boats (very low bridges)

Petite France.

We had lunch in the unusually named ‘Corde a Linge’ (Washing Line) in the Petite France area and then carried on exploring the city.

Too many bars to choose from, but this’ll do…

To stave off dehydration !

Buzzing on a sunny Saturday around the Cathedral.

Chris and Erf travelled with us the following day as we continued west enjoying the scenery between Xures and Einville-au-Jard.

Toby showing off his emergency swimwear.

Skipper’s eye view.

They  left early on Monday 22nd October for the Channel Tunnel and shortly afterwards we were joined by Peter’s brother Paul and his wife Jean, who had travelled from their home in Alderney by plane and then driven from Dinard.

Einville-au-Jard, a local ‘character’…..may have been psychologically  damaged when an Englishman won the Tour de France !

After the inevitable car shuffling and recce of potential mooring spots, we set off and cruised to just before the salt factory at Dombasle-sur-Meurthe, where we stopped for the night.

The barge and the rose going down nicely !

The following day we made it to Nancy and took the northern route through the town itself which included negotiating the two lift bridges. Not sure exactly where we would moor in or near Nancy, Paul recced ahead by car.

Paul tracks us in the car as we activate a lift bridge in Nancy.

After finally relinquishing our zapper at lock 28, not lock 27 as our guide had led us to believe, we entered the River Moselle. Just after we had turned left towards Toul, we spotted Paul who had found a suitable mooring. ‘Moot’ was moored there already and moved up to give us room. We were pleased to discover that they remembered us from our early days of cruising on the Canal du Nivernais at Clamecy.

Onto the River Moselle for the last leg to Toul.

Okay I’m in charge now !

The river was quite wide and we enjoyed some lovely scenery as we headed towards Liverdun the next morning. Peter had spotted the secluded mooring there which required us to nose into the opening, turn around and then reverse into the mooring spot on the pontoon. It was very quiet, but rather too weedy for any fishing.

A very secluded mooring at Liverdun.

We shopped for supplies and also took the opportunity to drive to Lorraine Marine in Toul where we would spend the winter. This was now within easy cruising distance and after lunch on Thursday 25th October we completed the final stage of our 2012 season.

A slightly precarious mooring at the lock to offload the bike.

The afternoon and following day were spent settling into the mooring and offloading the motorcycle. Paul and Jean then left us for their long drive and flight back to Alderney.

5 canals and 7 rivers since leaving the Midi at the start of the season. 1204 kilometres and 227 locks in all.

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