These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

17th - 25th September 2016. Along the Embranchement de Nancy, and on to the canal de Vosges, visiting the vet at Charmes, and painting The Puzzler at Nomexy.

There are 13 locks leading up to the summit level of l'Embranchement de Nancy, from the river Meurthe, with the last eight lying very close together. This galleon overlooks the canal near to Fléville lock 1. Shannon and I walked between these 8 locks, as this was preferable to climbing on to the roof at every lock, in order to reach the bollards with our front rope.

The summit level of this canal is fed by water pumped up from the river at Flavigny-sur-Moselle.

On the Embranchement there are new lock gates. We had been told that this canal would close tomorrow but it did not do so, so we need not have rushed!

The canal de Vosges crosses the river Moselle at Flavigny.

It is a wider valley here, looking across to the lakes alongside the river Moselle.

The next section has an avenue of plane trees along the canal.
On to Charmes, where the fair was in full swing when we arrived. Shannon was very poorly, with gastroenteritis. We went to the vets, which seemed, according to google, to be near to the centre of town. It wasn't! We did find it eventually, having carried Shannon well over a mile to get there. A kind lady, from the office there, gave us a lift back to The Puzzler after Shannon's treatment. Surprisingly, the fair packed up at 6 pm, as we had anticipated a noisy evening.

This is the 15th century church of St Nicholas in Charmes.

This part of the church was rebuilt in the 1950's after being bombed during the Second World War. These stained glass windows were finished in 1963

This Entombment in the church was sculpted by Mansuy Gauvain in 1516.

We moved on to spend a few days at Nomexy, where there was a boules competition on Saturday, with about 20 teams taking part.

There seemed to be men's and women's competitions, with the ladies on this rink.

Meanwhile we are repainting the cratch area of The Puzzler. This will complete the repainting of The Puzzler, which we started in Ireland in 2013!

Andy is working on the locker lids.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

12th - 16th September. We continue our return along the canal towards Nancy.

Back through Arzviller tunnel, but no trains this time.

The approach to Niderviller tunnel is in perfect order – those strimmers have been out again!

What a lot of goats! We bought some goat cheese from this farm, and it is very tasty.

The church at Xouaxange had an unusual tower, which goes quite well with the unusual name of the village. We have not yet discovered the correct pronunciation for it!

Another pleasant mooring at Xouaxange.

It was busy at Rechicourt lock today, with three boats going down ahead of us, and another three waiting to come up.
We then had to wait for nearly an hour, in case any more boats arrived to share the lock. During this hour a boatowner climbed up from below the lock to demand, “Are you coming down then?” As there was a red light ahead of us, we told her that we would, as soon as we could. She seemed to think that we were just waiting there to annoy her and hold her up! She was probably on a schedule! As no more boats did arrive, we had two floating bollards to use in the lock.

Did we really come in through those gates up there??
We sailed on through the heat of the day to this shady mooring at Moussey. Andy is just tying a fender to the tree to protect the topsides of The Puzzler. This is a first!
Our next stop was at Parroy, where the weather was cooler at last. This is an extremely pleasant mooring beside a campsite, with a table tennis table too, although the wind made for some interesting games! Barge Henrietta arrived on Thursday, with a friendly English couple, who had heard of the imminent closure of the Embranchement, at Nancy. We had planned to take another couple of days to get there, as it would add 40 kilometres to our route, if it were shut.
By making an early start on Friday though, and covering 32 kilometres and 10 locks in seven and a half hours, we made it to the junction, near to this lock. These last few locks have different gates, with just one hydraulic paddle on each one. We are now moored just past the junction, near to the supermarket and garage, having spent the rest of the day in getting provisions from both of these.

Friday, 16 September 2016

9th - 11th April. Back along the Canal de la Marne-au-Rhin to Lutzelbourg, where we climbed up to the castle. We explore the Valley of the Lockkeepers, then Andy and The Puzzler go up the inclined plane again at Arzviller.

From Saverne we are retracing our steps along the Canal de la Marne-au-Rhin to Lutzelbourg, which is an interesting village.

The Château of Lutzelbourg stands high above the village.

We walked up from the village, on a marked track through the forest.

There is more to the château than appears from the canal. It still looks a long way to climb up there!

Looking back down to the canal from the chateau, but no boats there today.
This view of Lutzelbourg is looking round the corner, to the right of the last pic. It shows the bridge in the centre of town, which stretches quite a long way further on down the canal.
Our route back took us past some cliffs, and then down! This is the fifth ladder of 89 extremely steep steps, and there is no alternative way down. Shannon managed three ladders, but I had to carry her down the last two. She kept extremely still and did not look down!

At last we are seeing a busy canal, with a great many hireboats about too. The canals have been so quiet this year that this makes a nice change.
We stopped just before Arzviller to walk up the Valley of the Lockkeepers. Here can be found the 17 locks which were replaced by the inclined plane in 1969. Most of the old lock gates have been removed, and many of the lock cottages, except for a few near to the top of the flight, are empty.

Lock 9 is very pretty. The family are enjoying lunch under the leafy patio, but must be used to their lovely house being photographed, especially as the guide book suggests that we can see a peregrine falcon here. We missed him! Yes, there is another disused lock in between the house and the car.

At lock 14 the lock cottage is now a gîte, overlooking this wide pound in the flight.

The top few locks hold water, but not enough to be used again.

It is time for The Puzzler to ascend the inclined plane again at Arzviller.
Up she comes.
The ascent of 45 metres is completed in just over three minutes.
Higher and higher.
Up at the top. I was going to show The Puzzler exiting the caisson, under the guillotine gate, but I got stuck on the wrong side of the footbridge, so had to talk my way through the "officials-only" gate, to get to the boat!

In the next caison, three boats are going down.

It has been all too much for Shannon!
This hotelboat was rather too close for comfort, as their lookout guy at the front was taking photos of their guests. He was overheard as they were level with us, “We're fine. Oh, maybe we're not!” They were then a lot closer than shown here.

Monday, 12 September 2016

31st August - 8th September,2016. On to Crévic, up the 50 foot rise in Réchicourt lock, through Niderville and Arzviller tunnels, down the Arzviller inclined plane and on to Saverne.

The flowers on the bridge in Crévic were the best yet!

Shannon was very apprehensive about these feral cats. She was probably wise to keep her distance!

Réchicourt 2 lock, ahead of us, is the deepest Freycinet (standard) lock in France, at 15.385 metres, or just over 50 feet. This lock replaced 6 locks in the 1960's.

There are two small cruisers in with us, so Andy has a floating bollard by our side doors, while I have a rope round a tall steel pole at the front. The lock is quite gentle though, so we had no need to worry.

Looking up at the top gates is enough to worry anyone! My steel pole is just on the left.

Shannon had no problem with the plank, when we needed it on a sloping wall mooring.

The countryside in this summit level is fairly flat. The canal has a lock free pound of 33 kilometres, between Réchicourt 2 lock and the inclined plane at Arzviller.

There are a few boats about, but this hotelboat is certainly the biggest so far!

Moving on through Niderviller tunnel, there is a deep cutting before Arzviller tunnel.

The railway tunnel is parallel to the Arzviller canal tunnel, rather like Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield narrow canal in the UK.
This section of canal used to be solid rock. Down to our left are the 17 abandonned locks, while 3 kilometres further on, we get to the Arzviller boat lift, which replaced them in 1969.
We had thought to spend the night at the top of the inclined plane, but this is forbidden, so we were straight into the caisson, which travels down this amazing boat-lift.

Here we go!

Looking back up, the black guillotine gate, through which we entered the caisson, can be seen, firmly closed.

Some of the lock cottages are very attractive. Shannon is minding The Puzzler in this lock!

Lutzelbourg stretches along the canal, and is a lovely village. We are saving it for our return journey, in a few days time.

This is a very pretty valley. We are sharing locks with a locaboat of friendly Austrians.
Several of the locks had this wooden trellis, above the top gates. This could have been left from the time when boats were towed by little trains, and it was used to guide the boats into the locks.

Saverne lock is lovely, and we were impressed by the whole town. There are flowers everywhere. Saverne is our destination on this canal.

This horse pulls a water cart, which travels the town, looking after the flowers.

There are a variety of attractive buildings in Saverne.
The museum is situated inside the old chateau. The most interesting part was about the life story of Louise Weiss (1893 - 1983), who campaigned all her life for women's rights.