Arzviller Boat lift 

Arzviller Boat Lift in “Quicktime"

Finally!!! After missing out on the Arzviller boat lift for two consecutive years we finally got there. The drizzling rain could not dampen our enthusiasm. The boat lift had been in repair for the last two years following a freak accident.

To reassure me and quench our curiosity, we first took a tour of the machine room on the Upper level. We were duly impressed by the simplicity of the design. With 2 counter weights of 450 tonnes each the mobile lock chamber is filled to 20cm above the upper canal level (=20 tonnes of water) making it heavier than the 900 tonnes of counterweights, and so allowing the lock to descend on the 41 degree slope. At the bottom the process is reversed and water is released until a weight of 880 tonnes allows the chamber to climb. Lock chamber and counterweights are connected by twenty eight 27mm thick cables which are winched by two 120 HP motors. Due to the clever fellow Archimedes we knew that it doesn’t matter how much the boats inside the lock weigh- or the persons on it, phew!

Smoothly we descended down to the eastern branch of the canal de la Marne au Rhin which leads from there to Strasbourg. Like in 2014 we moored along the quay in Lutzelbourg. This time we didn’t just admire the ruin of the castle from below, but climbed up to the top. From there it is a great view over the valley especially in sunshine - we imagined.

The next morning we set off early through the 4 small locks and back to the boat lift for the return trip - back up to the western canal which ends all the way in Paris. After I practised navigating through several bottlenecks and narrow stretches, Austin was keen to stop at a place called Xouaxange to steady his nerves. It cost me a “menu” at the local Auberge du Mesnil, which was very enjoyable. We also ordered our baguette there for the next morning as there are no shops in the village. We were told by a friendly Dutch couple, that on this beautiful stretch of canal many convenience stores, bakeries and restaurants have closed. Although the boat lift can carry barges, the canal itself is too small for the modern giant barges now in use, so the businesses on route rely solely on the tourist season.

© Austin Robinson 2019