19th July – 26th July
We walked for over four hours today visiting many places. The first being Saint-Étienne de Metz also known as Metz Cathedral. It is built with local yellow Limestone and the colour looks quite unusual. The building itself is pure gothic but it is the interior that blew us away. It was not only the internal structure but it displays the largest expanse of stained glass in the world with 6,496m2, truly stunning. We were lucky enough to visit while the organ was being played prior to the Sunday service. We sat in St Jacques square and had a coffee before heading off to the Jardin Boutanique (botanical garden) walking along the Moselle River past the marina where we saw a boat from Melbourne, Australia of all places. A nice park with some ponds and fountains and our location for lunch. From there through the streets past all of the closed shops (being Sunday) and to the Chapelle des Templiars but as it was before 2pm, siesta time, it was closed. We headed over to Porte des Allamandes which served as the original gate to the city in medieval times with a moat that surrounded the building with huge fortifications. Back to Tilly for a rest. We were going to venture out tonight to see the town at night but the weather isnot so good, so we will leave that for tomorrow night instead.
We keenly set off this morning to visit the covered markets only to discover that they weren’t open on Monday, just like the majority of the shops. We had experienced this previously but had forgotten that because the shops open on Saturday, they close Sunday and Monday. The restaurants, cafes, boulangeries and bigger stores open so we wandered through them for a few hours, although we didn’t buy anything. Had a quiet afternoon sitting by Tilly, feeding some of the baby ducks who ate out of our hands. Just before dark we headed off into town to see the cathedral lit at night. The church on the way and the river were lit up and it was just beautiful, yellow lights in the church and green lights along the river and under the bridge. The cathedral was just as nice and the stained glass windows look great with the light shining behind them. There were lots of people out and about and we headed to the botanical gardens to see the fountain light show only to discover that it is held on Friday and Sunday nights only. Someone needs to tell the tourist office about that! We still a lovely evening walk nevertheless.
On the road again today to our destination of Nancy, about 60kms south of Metz. We went through a few towns, the nicest one being Mousson. We did stop for a few minutes to look at the beautiful square and surrounding buildings before continuing on. We arrived in Nancy and went directly to the Aire we had picked out but it was full. Plan B was actioned yet again and we drove to the other side of the town. There were no signs anywhere for this Aire, however we did find it and there were two other Motorhomes already parked. No services but it is on the canal that runs around Nancy. We had a walk along the canal into town to Parc de la Pépinière a massive park which also houses a small zoo, a fountain and several cafes. From there to Place Stanislas city square which is Nancy’s crowning glory. It is a neoclassical square, one of France’s grandest public spaces and a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is surrounded by pale-stone buildings, including the hôtel de ville and the Opéra National de Lorraine, as well as gilded wrought-iron gateways and rococo fountains including one of a trident-bearing Neptune. On to Notre Dame cathedral. Seems all towns have one of these however this was not a gothic cathedral but a neoclassical and baroque style one with an amazing amount of stained glass that would rival the cathedral in Metz. Nancy had its own Arc de Triomphe at the entrance of a small square which used to be a riding and jousting arena. It is now lined with four rows of trees and stately rococo gates in gilded wrought iron. A visit to the charming old town along cobbled streets and we stumbled upon the silver-turreted, 14th-century Porte de la Craffe, Nancy’s oldest city gate, and place St-Epvre, dominated by ornate neo-Gothic Basilique St-Epvre. A wander back through the park to see the free classical music performance by a pianist and several cello players in the rotunda before plunging our very hot feet into the fountain and heading home. On the way we watched a big boat go down the canal and through the drawbridge just up the road from where we are staying, its quite amazing to watch.
We had a quiet day today. We ventured back into town and had a walk around the shops after visiting the central market. If you lived here it would be a great place to shop with lots of cheese, meat and vegetables for sale as well as market style clothes, shoes, hats etc. we have been looking for ages to buy some shorts for Dave, and today we found some. We paid a bit more than planned which you have to do sometimes. We did get 20% off and picked up a t-shirt as well for €7. I bought a skirt and top, plus a belt as my clothes are a little big now from all of the walking we are doing, so a good day all round. We came home via the park and they were setting up for another concert tonight however this one isn’t free so we won’t be attending. Lots of boats passed us in the canal so the drawbridge would have been very busy. We even saw the boat from Melbourne pass by us again.
Our journey today took us on a national road to Niderviller, approximately 70kms east of Nancy and we are currently parked at the marina next to the Canal de la Marne au
Rhin which is the same canal we were parked at in Metz! On the opposite side of the canal is a huge field of wheat which was harvested today as well as corn fields and some gorgeous brown cows. We are very close to the German border and it is obvious at this Aire. The cleanliness of the toilets/showers is a delight to have, the laundry room is equipped with Miele appliances and the washing powder and fabric softener is included in the price of a wash! If that isn’t enough, the young lad at the reception is German and speaks fluent English, oh happy days! We had a quiet afternoon just enjoying the scenery. Not sure what tomorrow will hold, do we stay or do we go!
Had a walk into Niderviller which has only a few streets however there are three places that sell Carrere marble. Out the front of the main distribution place, Blanc Carrere were some absolutely gorgeous pieces with one piece in particular having great depth in the patterns and colour. Might have to refurbish Tilly’s kitchen! Walked through the back streets, through the cemetery in which every tombstone was made from solid marble. We found a paddock with 6 horses, one of them an albino which we have never seen before. Back to Tilly for a lazy day, researching the Black Forest. There are so many amazing towns with great walks, we could be there for months!!
We hit the road just after 9 this morning after a night of lightning and thunder. Everything changed today, the houses, the trees, the town names proving we were edging closer to Germany. Driving on the D45 road which took us through some beautiful forests on some winding roads, we stopped at Dabo where there is a church atop a very high peak that overlooks the valley below. Stunning views. Then on the D153, again through the forests to Strasbourg. Well worth taking this route, although a bit longer than the autoroute, the scenery was worth the extra diesel costs. Once in Strasbourg at our free Aire with all services for about 30 Motorhomes, we had a walk along the Rhine river, crossing over from France to Germany on the bridge. The border is the river with absolutely no signage to say you had crossed borders, how disappointing! We stopped for a quick haircut each, yes haircut and headed to McDonalds for a map update. We had a brief walk around our first German town called Kehl, mainly the shopping centre before heading back to
Tilly in France for the night.
There was a disco last night, don’t ask me where but it went until 2 this morning. How do I know that? I was wide awake that’s how. Slept really well once the music stopped. We had a lovely day today. It started with a 6 km walk into Strasbourg, in part walking along the Rhine. We saw an open air boat that was about to depart on a cruise around Strasbourg and we decided to hop on. We saw some beautiful buildings, especially in the area known as Petite France, alive with an abundance of flowers in window boxes and old timber houses. We went through two lochs, one to raise the boat and the other to lower it. Our journey lasted about an hour and was very enjoyable. The military presence here seems to be stronger than in Paris, we saw 7 soldiers just near the cathedral alone. From there we queued to climb to the lookout platform at the Strasbourg cathedral. 330 steps later we had a magnificent view across Strasbourg and the surrounding areas. We also had a close up view of some of the gargoyles and the delicate carvings that adorned the towers. Once on the ground, we went into the cathedral. We are being spoilt with all of the beauty of these splendid churches and this was no different. While the ceiling wasn’t as high as some of the cathedrals we have entered, it has been wonderfully restored in parts and looks amazing, especially the organ pipes, as shown in the picture below. The 30m-high Gothic-meets-Renaissance astronomical clock strikes solar noon at 12.30pm with a parade of carved wooden figures portraying the different stages of life however we were too late to see that today. We wandered through a small part of the old town which has a lovely feel about it and we will fully investigate it and the many laneways tomorrow when we return. We have walked about 20 kms today, I think we will take the bikes tomorrow.
27 July – 2nd August
A change of plan today as the weather looks bleak. We decided we would walk over to Germany (how weird does that sound) and have a good look around the town of Kehl about a 15 minute walk from our Aire over the bridge that separates France from Germany. We climbed up the lookout tower, not sure how many steps but the view was very nice. We could see the Strasbourg cathedral and in the other direction the mountains of the Black Forest region. It was quite windy and the tower was moving both with each step we took and because of the wind. We ventured into town and had a walk around the shopping mall stopping in the square for our lunch. No baguette but a very nice German wholemeal roll. Back to Tilly for a well earned cuppa.
On our bikes and back into Strasbourg. This city is so geared for bikes, very much like Amsterdam with designated bike paths in both directions as well as a pedestrian path, all off road. The cars give way to bikes on the path if there are no traffic lights so it was a quick and easy ride in. We rode to Petite France and had a walk around there before returning to the cathedral where we parked our bikes and set off on foot to walk the back streets. Strasbourg is such a pretty city and well worth a visit. Lots of shops selling everything Alsace (the region) from cups, to tablecloths, special Alsatian cookies, nougat, you name it, it’s here as well as all of the well known branded shops. Had our usual lunch gazing at the cathedral before hopping on the bikes again and heading to the hospital. Don’t panic, we are fine. The hospital has a cellar that has been used since 1372 to make wine for medicinal purposes of course, and it now sells to the public. There were some huge wine barrels down there, one holding wine that was cellared in 1427, some barrels holding as much as 21000 litres. Thought about getting one for Tilly but we didn’t want to appear greedy aside from the fact it was bigger than she is! We stopped at the Citadel park on the way home, not much to see so we headed home.