Back in Alsace, we had a weather window of a few days so we decided a little cycle tour was in order. Not a Gord Gilbertson cycle tour but a far more leisurely pedal along the canals, first to Saverne then onto Saarbrüken along the Eurovélo 5 and spend time taking in vistas and stopping to read all the informational signs.
We had our touring bikes so, travelling light with one pannier and a front bag each, we pedalled north. We have ridden to Saverne on previous trips but decided a night's stay would allow us to explore the town. Despite much of the route being along the canals, it was a hot ride and we were pleased to arrive. The beer went down an absolute treat!
|The Chateau des Rohan, now a municipal building|
|The canal is just outside the Chateau|
We wandered down along the canals to a lock to see how it all worked. It is a great system. A series of lights indicate stop, enter and I know you are here and I am preparing the lock for you. Once inside the lock, you pull a lever, the gates close and up or down you go.
|A typical user-operated lock|
|Blue starts the lock transition (and a blue light indicates is is working) |
and red is the emergency stop
It was fairly quiet on the canal so we waited until a boat came along so we could watch the process. The lock didn't seem to be working and the woman from the boat wandered up to see why. And she was an Aussie! After a brief chat, she invited us aboard to experience gong through the lock. Not an experience we would say no to!
|Kate pulls the cord that opens the lock for entry|
Belinda and Martin bought their canal boat a few years ago. She is fully electric so purrs along silently. We ended up going about 5km and through seven locks with them. We became quite the dab hand at line handling. What a lovely way to travel. Thanks Martin and Belinda! We wandered back along the canal being quite the experts at canal travel!
|Outside our Bed and Breakfast, ready to start a full day|
Next morning, we jumped on our bikes for the ride to Saarbrüken. The EV5 lead us through the remarkable Vallée des Eclusiers - the Valley of the Locks. The Canal de la Marne au Rhin used to pass through here with 17 locks lifting the boats some 44.5m. This section of the canal was closed in 1969 after the construction of Le Plan Incliné de Saint-Louis Arzviller. We visited this back in 2012 - read all about it here! The Valley was amazing, lock after lock all overgrown with flowers and a neat little lock keeper house at each lock.
|Sunshine, scenery and bridges|
|slow, comfortable travel ...|
|... and marvellously flat, too.|
|A cleat to keep the boat stable while the lock fills or drains|
|On the right path!|
Once out of the valley, the ride along the canal was gorgeous. We took our time, stopped to breathe in the flowers and the ducks and arrived, rather tired, in Saarbrücken after a 120km day. We decided that it was 20km too long and we should have factored in that we were on touring bikes rather than road bikes.
|Saarbrücken Rathaus, or City Hall|
|Exploring the museums sometimes means seeing the original walls around the city.|
This was a great, cool spot to be on a hot day.
Saarbrücken has been a settlement since the first century BC and has some amazing museums. It was very hot so we found ourselves exploring the museums. One had an exhibition on Otzi, the Iceman. It was absolutely fascinating despite there not being any signage in English. The Historical Museum has an underground castle complex complete with moat, a dungeon and fortifications. Think trebuchet and cannon balls. It was awesome!
Then the rains came so we did the only sensible thing and caught the train back to Obernai!
Our stats: 173.3km with a vertical of 1,160m