Hooray! We made it…but of course not without the usual surprise…this time the train trip! Everything was going smoothly…aha…this is when one gets nervous. The train change in Belfort-ville…no problem! When we got to Montbeliard, NO FUNCTIONING ELEVATORS!!! So there we were bump, bump, bump down the stairs to the tunnel under the tracks, then unload all the panniers, etc to carry the bikes and everything up the stairs on the other side, phew…a bit of a workout!
We are extremely happy with our hotel tonight…they have a heated pool and a sauna! We had no problem finding the Eurovelo 6…smooth pavement and lots of signage!!! Did a couple of hours riding this afternoon on the Eurovelo in the direction towards Mulhouse. A warm sunny and breezy afternoon…beautiful scenes of small towns with their church steeples and red roofs set among the tree covered hills…so much texture and colour…the leaves are turning to their fall colours. The ride back into the wind along the canal reminded me of riding in Holland. We are staying here 2 nights and will do another day ride tomorrow.
Another fabulous day riding on a paved cycle path from Portieux to Epinal….very easy…the wild Moselle river on our left and the calm Canal des Vosges on our right! No traffic, a few other cyclists and runners, and many locks (l’écluse).
Lots of birds singing in the trees today…
Our picnic spot…in front of the concert hall in the town of Thaon-les-Vosges
We arrived in Epinal with time to explore this lovely city with the Moselle River and canal running through the center…
We just got back from our evening stroll which took us past the convent and through the quaint town of Portieux down to the Moselle River. The reflection of the full moon glistened on the water below. After a somewhat stressful day, it was great to relax and breathe in the fresh cool air.
Just in case any of you out there are thinking about checking out this Veloroute 50….TAKE HEED!!! There is NO cyclepath from about 15 kms beyond Nancy to about 5 kms before Charmes. We started out on a dirt, actually mud, because of the previous day’s rain, trail with a few potholes. That lasted a few kms then turned to a dirt/gravel single track….well eventually we were forced onto the D570 (no shoulder) which was a bit busy. I don’t mind the cars too much, but it is the huge transport trucks, buses and cement trucks that stress me out! It is difficult to enjoy the beautiful scenery…and it was gorgeous as I was occasionally able to glance up at the tree covered hills. There was even the odd red tinged maple and brilliant red Virginia creeper among the golds and yellows and greens.
Charmes was a bustling small town with the requisite Boulangeries, where we stopped for a cafe long and a croissant…so flaky!
Well here we are in Ludres tonight about 15 kms south of Nancy. We have been 2 days on the Veloroute 50, which, by the way, no one here calls it by that name. Actually, the name keeps changing as we go along, if in fact it has a name at all! Yes, quite confusing…it was all really quite easy until about 15 kms south of Metz. The cycle path was like riding through a park…on pavement with lots of very new signage….until suddenly and I mean quite ABRUPTLY…the pavement ended and then we were faced with a muddy, dirt single track path with a swamp on one side and a canal on the other…not much choice but to press on….About 1/2 km along the trail did widen out some and brought us to a 3 way intersection with NO SIGNS. As luck would have it a couple on mountain bikes (much more suitable for this trail) came by and between our pathetic French and their limited English managed to communicate the correct way to go to get back on the trail! Phew! And then there we were again on a brand new paved cycle path!!! Hooray! Well for a couple of kilometres…then it turned into a very rough dirt/gravel road full of potholes???? Not a single sign had been seen in many kilometres? Then suddenly the same couple on the mountain bikes reappeared and got us back on the right track again! Another stroke of luck, because there were no other people cycling here….hmmm, wonder why? We managed with some help from Pocket Earth to get to our destination that night but it was very “hit and miss” with a total lack of signage!
Interestingly enough, when we set out this morning from our gite in Custines and got back on the Veloroute…the signs were back! And we had no problems getting all the way through Nancy on another lovely paved trail along the river through forest and farmlands and then onto a canal with many locks. However, by about 2 pm it was drizzling on and off, just enough that we were pretty wet when we got to our hotel.
I honestly did not think that I would be riding along the beautiful Moselle river in shorts and a T shirt at the end of September….but here I am and it is fabulous! Temperatures for the past 2 days have been in in the 25C range and today we had a light breeze which kept us cool enough to enjoy the ride. I must say that this way up the Moselle is quite different than going the other direction from Luxembourg into Germany towards the Rhine ( the way we went 2 years ago). Today we were cycling through nature reserves with very little development along the banks of the river. We literally sailed through the city of Thionville without a single stop. The route is very well sign posted and one rarely sees a car or truck. There are tunnels under major highways and railways and a few bridges as you meander from one side of the river or canal to the other.
By 3:30 pm we were in Metz. We decided to stay here after reading about all the historical buildings, bridges, covered market and ‘Jardins’.
Another very warm and mostly sunny day to enjoy the fabulous Moselle Cycle path!!! We carried on from our Gasthaus on the German side of the river. In Schengen is where the corner of three countries meet…Luxembourg, Germany and France. It is also where…The Schengen Agreement (English: /ˈʃɛŋən/) is a treaty which led to the creation of Europe’s Schengen Area, in which internal border checks have largely been abolished. It was signed on 14 June 1985, near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, by five of the ten member states of the then European Economic Community. It proposed measures intended to gradually abolish border checks at the signatories’ common borders, including reduced speed vehicle checks which allowed vehicles to cross borders without stopping, allowing residents in border areas freedom to cross borders away from fixed checkpoints, and the harmonisation of visa policies. (Wikipedia)
Hooray…we made it into France!
tonight we are staying in a lovely B&B near Cattenom and this was the big surprise…
Yikes! Who new???? Anyway we will be outta here tomorrow morning!
The past few days have really gone by quickly. After leaving our wonderful hosts, Rob and Marlees, (near Butgenbach) we carried on along more of the beautiful Vennbahn with this next section having a few more hills and following the Our and Ulf Rivers through Belgium and into Luxembourg. We overnighted in a small hotel across from the train station in Troisvierges. Since we did not find any grocery stores along the way, we decided to try out the restaurant….WOW! It was a 3 star Michelin rated and they did not disappoint….what a treat!!!
We hopped on the train the next morning….4€ for the 2 of us and our bikes!!! The best deal in Europe! In Ettelbruck we easily found the Sur (Sauer, I think is the German name) River bike path and headed down the river. Absolutely gorgeous! The skies were a bit overcast but no wind!
We made it into Echternach early afternoon which gave us some time to wander the cobblestone streets and the gardens of the old university/abbey started by St. Willibrord over 200 years ago.
“Willibrord (Latin: Villibrordus; c. 658 – 7 November AD 739) was a Northumbrian (Ireland) missionary saint, known as the “Apostle to the Frisians” in the modern Netherlands. He became the first Bishop of Utrecht and died at Echternach, Luxembourg.” (Wikipedia)
We awoke the next morning to a somewhat surreal foggy scene and carried on down the river, which is also the border between Luxembourg and Germany. The mist swirled among the trees and hills and eventually dissipated into a warm and sunny day as the river opened up into a wide valley with vineyard covered hills. Eventually we were at the mouth of the Sur where it dumps into the Mosel (German, or Moselle, French) and there was the ferry to take us across to Germany! Thanks again to my trusty App, Pocket Earth, we had decided to ride up the German side of the Mosel and we were very happy we did as we could see that the Luxembourg side had industrial sites and lots of traffic as it shared the trail with a busy highway! Future cyclists in this area take note!!!
The Moselle River
Riding through the vineyards…but all the grapes had been picked!! !
We arrived into Palzem and easily found our Gasthaus which has an amazing terrace and view over the river….
Dinner was another fabulous mega-salad after which we went for a sunset stroll through more vineyards munching on dessert of grapes, apples and pears we found along the way….a perfect end to a perfect day!