First day cruising in Alsace

We woke to bright sunshine – there’s not been much of that this year in the UK so it took a moment to recognise the big shining yellow orb in the sky.

We took a leisurely breakfast inside and finished our coffees outside because… why not?

Our cruise takes us along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin. The difference between a canal barge and a river cruise ship is that the barge doesn’t travel at night but remains moored up until morning – The canal locks don’t operate at night.

One of the nicest things about the barge is that it enjoys a rather sedate progress (about 3 knots) along the canal. This means that you can disembark at a lock and walk the canal side towpath to the next lock which makes your FitBit happy!

After lunch we took an excursion to a museum of local Alsatian history. This area has been through some rather confusing times for the inhabitants; if you were born in 1870 you would have been a French citizen. A year later, after the Franco-Prussian war you would have become a German. In 1918 you would have regained French citizenship before losing it to German again in 1939 and finally reverting to French citizenship in 1945. No wonder there’s a strong pride in the local language and customs – I should imagine they’re fed up to the back teeth of everybody else!

The Kochelsberg Museum has a tableau of ladies in traditional Alsatian dress. The model on the left is a very plain black outfit and head covering from the Protestant side. The model on the right from the Catholic side enjoys rather more colours and fancy decoration. The Protestant dress is gathered more tightly at the waist to make the hips look bigger (apparently more promising for childbirth) and includes a knotted sash – the number of knots is the number of horses owned by her father. Protestant practicality versus Catholic vivacity – I’ll let you decide.

We finished the afternoon with a visit to the Villa Meteor, the site of the oldest independent brewery (a brasserie is a brewery – no I didn’t know either) in Alsace. There was an opportunity to try some samples, as you do, and the results are shown in the header picture of this page. Alsace produces roughly 60% of French beer. That’s because of the Germans.

Exhausting stuff really, and the only thing to do was to return to the barge for drinks and dinner. It’s so good to be back in France…. The storks seem to agree as they have remained in the nest next to our mooring for the night

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