After the summit pound of the Canal des Vosges, it’s down to the Moselle River. 14 locks in 11 kilometers, which we managed with very little waiting, took us to the 3.3 k branch canal which follows the river to the town of Epinal.
According to my notes from 2008, the last time we were here it was very hot the first day and rained the next so we didn’t see too much of the town. About 82,000 people live in the city and surrounding towns but it doesn’t get many tourists. It’s medium size and beautiful green mountainous surroundings make it very pleasant and picturesque.
On the hill above town are the ruins of a chateau built on the foundations of a castle that originated in the late 900’s. Fortified in the 13th century, it was modernized over the years but was dismantled after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. In the early 1800’s, government officials obtained the site and in 1890 it was donated to the City and is now a huge park complete with walking paths and a zoo.
The Chateau from the river in town.
Up on the hill
Epinal is a center for print making and the Cité de l’Image is a museum, exhibition and gift shop displaying all kinds of prints and print-making equipment, both old and new. We had been looking for some art for the boat and found a couple things we liked. At the check out counter the young man noticed our accents and asked where we were from. We told him California. Word got around somehow because the next day a reporter from the local weekly showed up at the marina looking for the boaters from California. We got a nice write up, complete with picture, the next day in the Vosges Matin although they did make fun of our French (or lack thereof!); Cathy Jo’s was dans un français timide mais compréhensible but I qui contrairement á sa compagne ne pratique pas la langue de Moliére. (Translate it yourself!) A local family even introduced themselves that afternoon. They wanted to meet the Californians. The 2016 Media Tour continues!
Also in the marina is a bar and restaurant with a big screen tv. We were able to watch Les Bleus, the French football (soccer) team defeat Germany to advance to the finals of the European Cup. Horns were blaring on the roads around town for at least an hour afterward.
About 10 Saturday morning we set off for more downhill locks. This time there was quite a bit of other traffic so we did a lot of waiting. After 15 locks it was about 4:30. We found a old stone quay we could tie to and spent the night au sauvage.
Sunday was the same; lots of waiting and lots of locks; 10 locks in 19 k but we tied up at a civilized 1:30 pm.
After our 9 am departure and some lock trouble, about 2 pm on Monday we exited the Canal des Vosges and entered the Moselle River and it’s big river locks. We only got to do 2 of them, however, because we would be entering the western branch of the Canal de la Marne au Rhin in order to get over the top to the Meuse River. Our next major destination was Toul but we had intended to stop short of town on Monday so we could arrive at the marina early on Tuesday. We’d be spending at least a couple of days and wanted to get a good spot. Unfortunately, some miscommunication with another boat and lots of waiting resulted in a “forced march” to Toul and we arrived in the marina just moments before the locks closed for the day. Luckily the Capitain of the Port was willing to shift a boat to make room for us. We’d be restocking the galley shelves (and the wine cellar) tomorrow.