Saturday, 2 August 2014

Follow the River

Look at a map of Europe in an atlas, or Google search Vianden, in Luxembourg.  Do you see the river Our there?  More like a stream really, full of ducks and swans, making its way through the countryside, through the forest and between the hills of Luxembourg.  You can follow it south for quite some time, and then see?  It joins the river Sûre.  A bigger river now.  Luxembourg on one side, Germany on the other, and small bridges taking you back and forth between them.  There are kayakers now, on this river.  You can rent a small boat and float a ways down, and then they'll pick you up and take you back to where you started.  You don't even really need to paddle.  Keep going south.  The river twists and turns a bit, and then it joins the Mosel, or la Moselle in French.  Go the French way, southwest instead of southeast - the road beside you is actually called the Route du Vin!  You're in vine country now.  The hills that before were covered in forests, or pastureland, now have row upon row of grapevines growing.  You can continue south, through France, or, when you get to Schengen, you can go just 40km overland to an even bigger river, the Saar.  An impressive river, a muddy red.  Huge tubes follow along beside you, cross over above your head, and disappear into massive, smoke-stacked structures.  Shiny and new or old, rusty, and crumbling, eerily abandoned.  But don't be fooled - this is the UNESCO World Heritage site in Völklingen, celebrating the technological achievements of man.  German industry continues on both sides, but soon you cross the border into France, and it is quiet again.  The highway is gone, instead there is nature, and the river.  Notice that it splits in two.  You can see it in Sarreguemines, the canal beside the river.  Follow the canal, it's straight and flat.  The water has lost its red colour, it's green-grey, and full of fish.  All along the banks people sit on their lawn chairs, under umbrellas or trees or large sun hats, with their cars pulled up beside them, and three or four fishing rods set up in front of them.  At the right time of day, if the sun is at just the right angle, you can see into the canal.  The fish are dark shadows that skim the surface from below, looking for food.  Their thick bodies are nearly as long as my arm.  Are you still following the canal?  Be careful, it splits away from the river Saar.  It passes around Sarrable on the north side, and then heads straight south.  It goes through Bissert, and Harkischen - there's a campground in that town if you need to stop the night - and then at Mittershiem it passes through three lakes.  You can see on the map, it's the strangest thing.  It does not join the lake and come out on the other side, but it actuallly is a channel, with walls on either side, that passes untouched to the other side.  In the third lake, it splits.  You can go west to Nancy, or east.  Keep going east.  Gondrexange, Saverne, and then clear sailing all the way to Strasbourg.  

342km, almost entirely on bike trails, and almost entirely flat.  It's been a nice way to travel!

1 comment:

  1. and no need for maps cause you can just follow the river. Though I got lost when we went 40KM over land, and ended up following the Rhen intsead.