Our Barge, Odysseus

Friday, September 17, 2010

Return to France

Our first stop in France was Sarrequemines, about 15 k upriver from Saarbrucken.  There is a very nice set of pontoons right in the middle of town in front of an old casino. 
Sarrequemines was once a major ceramics making center and the casino was built by the ceramics manufacturers to keep their workers out of the cafes (and presumable to recoup some of the wages they paid to the workers!).  Now the factories mainly turn out floor tiles and the casino had been a restaurant but was closed for renovation. We spent a full day in town, first making a trip to the grocery store to restock and then taking the afternoon to take a very enjoyable bike ride along the Blies River which runs into the Saare in town.
Wednesday morning we set off, passing thru eight locks and covering about 25 k until we made a bankside stop for the night. Thursday we pulled into a very nice marina at the village of Mittersheim.  We wanted to ride the bikes out to the medieval village of Fenetrange, about 8k from the canal so we figured we'd spend a day or two.
The marina was great.  It had pontoons with free water and power, the facility provided by the village and the French canal authorities.  It's a good thing, too, because the weather turned horrendous, with rain, wind and big thunderstorms.  We saw in a local paper a couple of days later that what they thought was a tornado had taken the roofs off several buildings and tossed cars around in a nearby village on Thursday night. Luckily things improved on Saturday and we set off across the rolling hills on our bikes.
We had left the Saare River just above Saareguemines and were now in the romantically named Saar Coalfields Canal (Canal des Houilléres de la Sarre), but, as the French section was never enlarged for the really big barges and the coalfields are now shut down, traffic is pretty restricted to pleasure boats. Our bike ride would take us across the fields and back to the riverside and another impossible picturesque village.
Note the medieval satellite dish.

Part of the old town wall gate still exists.

We had a nice lunch at the restaurant in town, biked back to the boat and made preparations for departure on Sunday morning. We'd have a long flight of locks to do before reaching our next stop, a return the the giant lock at Rechicourt le Chateau, back on the Canal de la Marne au Rhine.

No comments: