|Palais du Cardinal Louis de Rohan Savernne|
My knee is improving and I can now get about in reasonable fashion with the aid of a knee brace. ‘Reasonable fashion’ is, perhaps, not quite precise as my knee accessory is, in fact, perfectly colour coordinated with my blue bathers. ‘Bathers!’ I hear you splutter. Yes, indeed. Rain jackets and fleeces, de rigeu,r last week have been put away, hopefully for the remainder of the summer. The temperature has hit the high 30s and emboldened by the admirably carefree attitude of the hordes of scantily clad Dutch boaters we’re now encountering on their annual southerly migration we’ve broken out the bathers. I’ll spare you the photos though.
After leaving Strasbourg we continued along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin stopping at Saverne and Lutzelbourg. Saverne is yet another handsome Alsation town with, once again, impressive buildings ranging from ancient half timbered houses to the immense Palais du Cardinal Louis de Rohan which overlooks the moorings. The canal from here to Lutzelbourg climbs through thick forest. Lutzelbourg is a very pretty small town in a deep valley and is overlooked by a ruined chateau.
We arrived on the eve of Bastille Day and were briefly excited to learn that the planned celebrations included an open air dance and fireworks that night. I say briefly because the rain arrived soon after us and the whole thing was cancelled. ‘It happens every year,’ the young lock keeper told us the next morning with a resigned shrug of the shoulders (haven’t seen so many of those this year). Anyway, we had a good evening in the brasserie instead.
It’s but a short hop (haha) from here to the inclined plane and the 2 tunnels on the summit of the canal about which I have nothing further to say.
We said goodbye to Libby and Brian at Hesse (thanks again for the great company) and continued our way slowly to Nancy where we stayed for a few days. The port is very busy here and doesn’t have a great deal of room for visitors so we spent our first night in the next basin along the canal which we subsequently discovered is supposed to be for freight vessels of which there are very few and I doubt if any would stop there anyway. There were a couple of large peniches (barges) moored neither of which looked like it had moved in many years. Next morning we were woken by a large Heineken truck parking alongside us and then a couple of guys began transferring its contents to the peniche beside us. Enough beer to sink a ship in fact. After the truck left we looked more closely at the sign on the boat’s gangway and discovered that it was a night club and open on Friday and Saturdays from midnight to 5am. As that was Friday we decided moving might be wise and so we shifted into the crowded marina.
There is much to like about Nancy. It is here that the French Art Nouveau movement was most vibrant and there are many beautiful buildings around the city as well as the lovely Musee d’ecole Nancy.
|Musee d'ecole Nancy|
And then there is the Place Stanislas. As part of its summer spectacle Nancy puts on a sound and light extravaganza in the Place so our first sight of it was at 10.30 at night when it was illuminated and the square was full of people waiting for the show to begin. And what a sight – one of those places that make you (well me anyway) just stop and say wow! The light show was fabulous. We’ve been so lucky to see these this year. The Place Stanislas is exquisite during the daytime as well. It is reputed to be the finest in France and with its perfectly proportioned buildings and gilded fountains I can well believe it. We had a look inside the Grand Hotel which is on one side of the square and very grand it is too. Nevertheless if you want to bring your dog to stay that’s absolutely fine and it’ll only cost you an extra 15euro a night. Cheaper than kennels and oh, so much grander.
|Place Stanislas Nancy|
Next major stop was the fortified town of Toul. Another city, another light show. This time in the cathedral’s lovely cloisters. This spectacle was more low key than Nancy and had a commentary of which one of us understood about half and the other none at all but it was very enjoyable nonetheless. It was too hot to explore much of Toul during the day and it has a somewhat deserted air in the evening. The town’s Vauban designed and impressive fortifications were no defence against aerial bombardment and it was badly damaged during WW2.
We are now following the Meuse on our way to Verdun.