What a week we’ve had. After a few days in Epinal we decided to rent a car and go further afield. The mooring fees are really reasonable (€8 a night) so leaving Silver Fern moored up for a few extra days was a great option. I booked a Peugeot 208 from Europcar on their app for 4 days and the first thing we did was drive to the American war cemetery not far away. It was sobering as these sites always are and immaculately kept.
We headed up into the mountains, past 1000m, through thick forest until, turning a bend, there was a gorgeous alpine lake at Gérardmer. In winter this is a ski resort and we saw chairlifts and a luge further up. It was a stunning day and we ate our lunch on the waterfront. Spectacular and unexpected.
After lunch we continued our way to Le Linge high up in the Vosges Mountains, one of the sites of trench warfare between Germany and France in 1914 in what became a fierce unrelenting battle when wave after wave of mountain infantrymen laid siege to the German trenches, hidden in the forest. The German trenches are well preserved on the higher ground and we were able to walk through them. You can’t get into what’s left of the French trenches as there may be unexploded ordinance but the distance between opposing sides in some parts is only a few metres. The statistics are sad. Thousands lost their lives and neither side advanced. Between 1915 and the Armistice both sides had to be content with their positions.
We looked around the onsite museum and watched a film about the battle.
After that fascinating look at a terrible time in France’s history I’m glad to say we continued on to Colmar. What a stunning Alsace town with a little canal running through the old town and pretty buildings and flowers everywhere. We stayed at Hotel Quatorze right in the old town centre and had a fabulous time trying the local cuisine and wines. The Pinot Gris was outstanding.
We hit the local covered market before we left.
The next day we drove to Ribeauville a beautiful alpine village where we had lunch and sampled more Pinot Gris at Louis Sipp’s tasting rooms, purchasing a case of their 2016 vintage. We decided we prefer it to Riesling here.
After a walk up on the hills, surrounded by vineyards and a large Chateau, we continued down the mountains and into Strasbourg where we stayed two nights at the Hotel Gutenberg, again right in the middle of the old town near the cathedral.
Strasbourg is much larger than Colmar but the old town is filled with the half timbered houses of this region and a great place to wander the streets. It’s biggest attraction has to be the massive Cathédrale de Notre Dame, in the evenings bathed in light and quite spectacular, inside and out.
We ate and drank our way around this capital of Alsace and I managed to fit in a little shopping as well! The Sales are on!
Finally it was time to drive back to the boat and some eating and drinking rehab (not really). Going back through the mountains we stopped at a couple of war memorials including one to those that lost their lives either escaping the Germans or hiding and assisting escapees aka The Resistance. Their bravery is commemorated in this Raon-sur-Plaine memorial.
Back in Epinal our boat was still floating, always a bonus, haha. Actually this waterway is slowly getting shallower as the temperatures push 33° and early this morning we untied and carefully retraced our steps along the Epinal Embranchement, grazing something on the bottom only once. Result!
We headed North along the Canal des Vosges, continuing to descend, through 16 locks in about 26kms. The thermometer on the deck hit 38° with the canopy down, a necessity due to the low lock bridges. But that’s in the sun so it’s probably around 33° and there was lovely breeze as we cruise at 8kph, the speed limit on canals. After 6 hours we found a spot to moor in Charmes, tying half on a concrete edge and half on the bank. There are about 10 boats and 25 camping cars all along the banks of the canal so there’s not much privacy to be had. At €9 per night it’s not a bad spot and we recc’ed the town finding the closest boulangerie for tomorrow.
So here are the stats for the last week, keeping in mind we had 4 days away from the boat.
Epinal to Charmes:
Engine hours: 6.2
Total this year:
Engine hours: 52.5