Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


The French Canal de la Sarre

Sunday 10 July 2022 5:05 AM

And before we knew it, we were back in France! At Sarreguemines, the confluence of the Blies and Saar constitutes the blurry border between the two countries, where on both sides a strange dialect called Rhine Franconian is spoken. Quite honestly, French is sometimes easier to understand. In the last blog I did forget to talk about Saarlouis but having been there before we just took the amazing Vaubin fortifications and the old Barracks for granted.

I add here some photos from "Death by Ice Cream" in Saarlouis, a touching Jewish memorial and a photo from Children’s Day in Merzig.

It’s not easy to work up enthusiasm about the little towns we’ve already explored before, and yet we do discover almost everywhere something new. Like we did in Sarreguemines, the town whose claim to fame is its Ceramic and Earthern Ware Industry, evident in a variety of mosaics, sculptures, decoratively tiled facades and two museums. New to us though was the large ceramic kiln, the last one remaining of 30. It used to take 60-70 hours to fire. For earthenware, it was heated to 950 degrees and 1200 degrees for porcelain. 

The French Canal de la Sarre has little to no commercial traffic. It is narrower and the places along it smaller, yet the surroundings are beautiful. There is another big plus: the locks are automatic and under our control by a push of a button! And while we had the waterways and locks greatly to ourselves before, here is real traffic! Lots of hire or "bumper boats" came our way, some with quite gang-ho crews, dare I say: mostly German men? One particular group of young guys seemed to be doing more drinking than anything else when we passed them before Mittersheim.

Mittersheim is a lovely stop with good facilities minus Wi-Fi. The Étang de Mittersheim is close by and invites swimmers and other water activities. A good walk leads along the reservoir to the village. There is not much in the village except a great boulanger/patisserie/shop all in one.

We took it easy in the morning as several hire boats and a barge, we had successfully outrun the previous day, were travelling in “our” direction. With another 13 locks including step locks to come this would have meant a lot of waiting. 

When we were finally ready to take off, who should appear full throttle, beer bottles in hand: The German guys from the day before! Too late for us to back up, we followed them into the first lock, and from then on, we were lock partners. As annoying as they were, it worked out to our advantage. They only knew one speed and went as fast as the hire boat would allow, so by the time we arrived, they had prepared the lock by push of the button and we could cruise straight in after them. One of them was usually already climbing the slippery ladder, which can be a dangerous thing when inebriated, and sometimes even took one of our ropes. They also entertained us with some good rock-n-roll and bumping with their boat from right to left as they exited the locks. After more beers and locks, one of them found it hilarious mooning us!  We did however think of them after we passed them at the end of the canal and thought the name above might be appropriate if they ever get their own boat!

Houillon, right next to another étang or reservoir, is the last port before the Canal des Houllières de la Sarre intersects with the Rhine-Marne-Canal. We moored next to an interesting-looking boat, called “De Ol Trischen”. 

It is an old tugboat which until 1980 has been working with barges in the Wadden Sea near the outflow of the Elbe river. The Deutz motor was fitted in 1949 and it seems to be now privately owned by a German couple.

Another very different canal boat we passed on the Saar is the Majesty of the Seas, a miniature copy of the Royal Caribbean 1992 cruise ship. It’s 33.5 metres long, 4.75 metres wide and took François Zanella, a retired mine worker 11 years to build. Its interior even has a grand salon with a bar and a great glass entrance. 

We slept well on our last night on the Saar Canal. Going through 13 locks in the current Indian summer takes it out on us oldies!

Tomorrow we’ll turn to port into the Canal de la Marne au Rhin towards Strasbourg.

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