Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


And we are off!- Toul to Pont-à-Mousson

Tuesday 21 June 2022 5:04 PM

It is always nice observing the comings and goings in a harbour! There are the evening invasions and the early morning rushes. Some provided unexpected entertainment, like when a large cruiser moored on a rickety pontoon and the captain sportively jumped onto its very end, dunking him knee-deep into the water before catapulting him back up in the air. Amazing how he retained his balance!

Then there are the obvious novices who tried to leave the mooring with the last rope still firmly attached. 

I also loved watching a 60-something French man with a massive, grey mop of hair reaching the bottom of his shoulder blades and held in place by colourful headbands working tirelessly on his boat in diverse hippyish attire. Of course, we are acutely aware that we ourselves have contributed to the amusement of harbour folks on many occasions.

Well, all good things have to come to an end, and so did our time in Toul! Yet, before leaving, having been cleared of the virus, we managed to fit in some goodbye drinks and a quick stroll around town where the Fête de la Music was being celebrated on this summer solstice night. So we finished off not quite with a bang but with some nice rhythm and rock.

Leaving wonderful Port de France we abstained from racing other boats for pole position at the opening of the first lock, but instead waited quite patiently for the general exodus to abate. Nevertheless, we were still followed by three boats. We continued to travel together down the Moselle sharing the big river locks as a foursome, and later squeezed in side-by-side behind one of those huge commercial barges. Still, in our fleet formation, one Aussie boat followed by three Dutch cruisers, we reached the lovely harbour of Port-à-Mousson.

Once we paid our mooring fees, I was on a mission to try out the oven that the previous owners of Lodi had left in the hull. The oven looked good and so did our pre-prepared Flammenkuchen! But after blowing the fuses twice, even after Austin attached it to a separate power supply, I gave up and we went to the Restaurant du Port instead. Mussels and Salade Perigourdine had to do! Salade Perigourdine is an interesting mixture of salad greens, tomato, smoked duck slices, gizzard, fois gras, nuts and egg.

Gizzards are chicken or duck giblets and are quite delicious and nutritious.

This is the third time we stopped at Port-à-Mousson, but we had never made it to the "Abbaye des Prémontrés", an 18th-century abbey of the Norbertines. This time it was a must.

After being greatly destroyed in 1944, the restored buildings serve now as conference and cultural centres. 

Three amazing staircases lead up to the first and second-floor hotel rooms, one held up by none other than Atlas himself, another graced by a huge crystal chandelier weighing 650kg.

A colourful cloister garden is enclosed on three sides by palatial arcades and by the abbey church on the fourth side. Walls of the cloister and adjoining rooms currently serve as a Samurai Exhibition with a variety of scary painted masks,  Japanese armours and paintings.

We spent most of the day strolling around town and along the picturesque Moselle home to many graceful swans and their offspring. 

No wonder we felt clumsy and self-conscious in our wet swimmers, sitting on deck and trying to cool down from the hot afternoon sun! Nothing swan-like here on the Lodi!

Just before dinnertime, the sky darkened and a violent storm blew through the harbour rocking rows of boats in unison to and fro. There was frantic activity all around to batten down the hatches and tighten the mooring ropes. When a short time after the rain arrived, it was nothing more than a shower and over in a flash. The severe weather event had blown past us.

But the speed it occurred in served us as a warning for the next day when a lunchtime storm was predicted. So we set off straight after breakfast for one of our favourite places, the town Metz. Luckily we did take the warning seriously because we had just arrived when a deluge enveloped us and all we could do was dive for cover!

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