French Canal Holiday: a prelude in Belgium

3-4 June 2011

The somewhat unsatisfactory weather on last year's canal holiday contributed to us deciding to go a bit further afield this time, and see what the French canals are like, eventually plumping for a trip in Alsace and a bit of Lorraine, on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin. While Jane and Sarah went for the very early morning departure and a trip on Eurostar, the other four of us drove, starting off on Friday. The natural route from Calais to north-east France might at first thought be across France, but because the autoroute requires you to go via Reims, it is only 18 km further to go via Brussels and Luxembourg, which has the double benefit of avoiding almost all the French motorway tolls and allowing you to fill up with diesel in Luxembourg (just one pound a litre, against 1.40 in the UK and only a little less in France).

So on Friday evening, Lucy's navigation took us safely up the hill to the Chateau de Namur where we were staying for the night for a price less than the budget motels. Dinner was very good, if somewhat disconcerting in that we didn't know in advance what we were going to get, and weren't always entirely sure when it arrived.

Chateau de Namur

One of the minor deficiencies was that the trees on this hill were so thick that, in summer at least, the views which one might hope for are almost impossible to attain. Here is a glimpse down to Namur and the Meuse.

There was also this grassy amphitheatre nearby, barricaded off but potentially a lovely venue

The Jardin Gourmand, one of the themed gardens around the hotel

The rose garden

So, time to hit the autoroutes again, and via Luxembourg and Metz we travelled successfully to Sarrebourg, where we met Jane and Sarah, got some shopping, and made two journeys to the boatyard at Hesse to convey the six people in the five-seat car.



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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson