Saverne - Nancy

While on the shore for a short period, our captain was approached by a French reporter armed with mike and camera, and asked about his opinion about Saverne in general and it’s harbour in particular. Pointing out that his French is not 100% yet (but watch us!) the reporter reacted by the well known words ‘pas de problème’ and started his interview. Who is to tell that perhaps it was on CNN later on?? We just hope that it was all deleted or, at least, that nobody acquainted to us watched the stumbling ‘conversation’…

That same day three fairly young nuns were sitting in front of our ship and chatting. Yes, nuns do chat, they are female after all… Because of the rare sight, at least in our home country, we would have loved to photograph them but a simple lack of guts held us back for asking their kind permission. It was, however, irresistible to picture them when walking away later on – it is anonymous now after all. Obviously there are still young people willing to sacrifice their lives to the Lord.

On the 2nd of July we left Saverne 9:15AM accompanied by two family members. The weather: sunny. After 9 locks and 4 hours of cruising we found a nice mooring in Lutzelbourg. This picture tells it all; it is just pretty in this area of the Lorraine, wherever one looks.

In week 24 you could read already extensively about the ‘Plan Incliné de Saint-Louis-Arsviller’. Therefore there is no reason to dig deep into this miracle again. But… the incline unfortunately is out of use now for an unknown period. This is what was written on Wikipedia about it. ‘‘Shortly before 12PM local time on the 4th of July, while the tourist barge ‘Paris’ which belongs to the Association and provides visits to tourists was entering the caisson, the latter suddenly moved, jamming the barge with its 21 passengers and releasing a vast quantity of water into the valley below. An extensive operation by the emergency services was put into operation with occupants of a nearby camping and a restaurant in Lutzelbourg being evacuated. Through traffic on the canal has been suspended while thorough inspection of the installation is undertaken and closure is estimated to last several days, if not weeks or even months. This is a great blow to boat hire companies in the area as the holiday period enters it high season and the stretch of canal between Niderviller and Saverne is the most spectacular in the region.’’ Fortunately we passed the incline on the 3rd of July at the beginning of the afternoon, just less than 24 hours before the accident. Phew!! There is only the river Rhine to escape – and most of the pleasure boaters, like us, are not licensed for the busiest river on earth, nor is there a sufficient number of pilots available.

Acsending the inclined plane and going westward there are two tunnels to cross, the first (Sousterrain d’Arzviller) 2.306 meters (almost 7.700 foot) long, the second (Sousterrain de Niderviller) 475 meters (1580 foot). The summit level of Le Canal de la Marne au Rhin has some distinctive features! Pictured is the east entrance of the longer tunnel, next to the entrance for the train.

After four locks, one inclined plane and two tunnels, which took us almost 4,5 hours altogether, we spotted this free space near to a village called Hesse. It was already 3:45PM, so we decided to call it a day. That evening we played ‘gouwe ouwe’ (oldies but goldies??), from André Hazes (world-famous in The Netherlands) to Brenda Lee (world-famous in the world). On high volume, we must confess, so we hope our neighbours –who had arrived later on and moored at a distance of some 20 meters behind us- had a reasonable good night sleep.

The deepest lock on the canal one more time – of course this time going down every inch of its depth of 15,385 meters (51 foot). Almost free again, after 25 minutes of descending. The gate has been lifted and the canal becomes visible again.

That evening, Thursday the 4th of July starting from Hesse at 10:17AM, we ended up in a place called Lagarde. Only seven locks, the deep one included, but it took us over 7 hours altogether. The spot we found eventually was substandard, so to speak, and not worth a picture. Therefore this time a picture from the inside for a change. La capitaine (left) is sitting on the shore having a conversation with our visitors for five days (the five days relate to the visit, not the conversation).

On the 5th of July, a Friday, we left Lagarde at 9:30AM sharp because (a) the canal ‘opens’ here only at 9:00AM and the first lock was at a distance of about 2 kilometers and (b) we wanted to reach Nancy this same day as our visitors wanted to travel on to family in Switzerland. We made Nancy at 6:00PM, after fourteen locks. Eight-and-a-half hours of work and concentration! There is no other defense than the fact that we adapted to the schedule of our guests. Here they are sitting in front of the ship, enjoying the journey. As they say in The Netherlands ‘there are Apostles and Martyrs’.

On the way from Lagarde to Nancy one crosses the river La Meurthe, a tributary to La Moselle. This view is too pretty to deny it to you, faithful viewer!

And this is where we are now, in Nancy opposite the harbour (‘Port Saint-Georges’) of this attractive town. Three weeks ago we moored in the harbour itself for a mooring fee of almost € 25,00 per day. The present side is for € 0,00 a day. A slightly better deal one can say, although we will need water in a few days and there is not a drop on this side. Life is never perfect, but we’ll definitely find a solution.

Friday evening we found just enough energy to walk to the center of the city and have a ‘pastis’ on one of the attractive outdoor terraces on Place Stanislas. We discovered that a free concert was due next evening as a final show of the capabilities of several singers after a master class, given by the famous bass singer Ruggero Raimondi. So it was immediately obvious where to go the next evening!

This picture was made on Friday the 5th during the final rehearsal. L’Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy started around 8:00PM and rehearsed, together with the singers, for several hours. It was magic already on the Friday but the Saturday evening outshone everything. We arrived around 8:45PM and the show was already in full flow. Lucky us, we could ‘confiscate’ a table and two chairs pretty quickly and we enjoyed the music and the singing (for the most part Italian opera, Verdi in particular – La Traviata) hugely for a good two hours, followed by an astonishing sound and picture show, projected on the facades of the grand buildings surrounding the square. Next week: Nancy, at least partly, as we are planning to be here for several days. Salut!