Inclined Plane and we’re nearly done

The WiFi and internet signals are a little hit and miss on this Tour – perhaps unsurprisingly since we’re on a moving barge in the middle of mountains and the remote French countryside. Today is our last full day on the Barge, so this post will be for both yesterday and today, and so slightly longer than usual

Yesterday was all about things happening on the canal. We passed through the Vosges Mountains and the terrain is difficult for a canal, requiring numerous locks as the gradient changes

An elegant solution to the problem is the Inclined Plane at Arzvillers. In essence, it works like this. The Barge enters a section of the canal which is sealed watertight once the barge is inside. The entire thing (i.e. the Barge AND the water it is floating on) is then lifted up the hill on tracks using a clever system of counterweights. The process is reversed at the top of the hill where the watertight gates are reopened and the Barge rejoins the canal at a higher level. The counterweights weigh the same as the Barge/Water container, so the whole thing is effectively weightless during the move up the hill.

After suitably admiring interest from the small crowd, and some slight applause we continued our journey as the terrain began to flatten once more. We passed by our sister ship ‘Danielle’ during the journey.

During the afternoon we passed through the two tunnels on the canal, one of which is nearly 4 miles long. Since this happened during lunch, it meant that it was one of the few times in our lives that we had a candle-lit lunch in the middle of the day!

Yesterday finished at our overnight mooring in the tiny village of Xouaxonge. We decided to make this our ‘French’ evening and so we organised a game of Pétanque for the crew and clients and accompanied this with some glasses of Ricard Pastis, the traditional French aniseed flavoured Summer drink – the one that turns cloudy when water is added.

Today we continued in the sunshine. We passed through the deepest lock on the canal (15 meters drop) at Rechicourt Le Chateau where we passed on a couple of leftover breakfast croissants to the lock-keeper.

After that we moored at Lagarde, the final stop on our cruise before taking lunch.

In the afternoon we made an excursion to Sarrebourg to see the famous stained-glass window designed by Marc Chagall.

Tonight, for our final night, we have a gala dinner, so it would probably be a good thing if I went off to my cabin and had a shower and a tidy up, and spruced up a bit for dinner. Tomorrow morning we travel back to Strasberg for our journey home to London, so I probably won’t be posting to the blog or a travel day. I’ll leave you all with a picture of the table laid for a gala dinner. Thanks for your company on this lovely barge cruise in Alsace.

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