Along the waterway

Bucolic trip along the Canal des Vosges (from Charmes to Fontenoy)

fjdv0960_c_jf_hamard.jpg

Christine

With family or friends, the cycle route called “Voie Bleue” welcomes you for a friendly trip in the heart of nature.

A cycling route in the heart of nature

That’s it. I made up my mind this morning. I am going to take my bike and go cycling along the Canal des Vosges.

I love this ride because as soon as I leave home I can quickly be in the middle of nature with birds singing, trees all around me and water on both sides of my bike.

Since I live in town, I can quickly reach the bike path which I follow to cross the town centre along the Moselle River towards the Port. Because yes, Épinal has a port with 20 moorings. During the summer, boats from Belgium, Holland and Germany dock there to spend a night or more not far from the heart of the town. Actually, this is where the mixed-use trail starts and follows the Canal des Vosges in the shade of tall trees and not far from the Moselle River. Here I am, pedalling quietly on my superb electric red moustache bike, manufactured only 2 steps away, surrounded straight away by nature and serenity. What a delight!

Viewpoints alongside the Voie Bleue trail

On my way, I pass many joggers, cyclists and walkers who greet me, as did the sailors standing on the deck of their boats. After 3 kilometres, I get off my bike for a first break to admire the navigable aqueduct passing over the Moselle River. From there, I can either continue the ride towards the North or the South. This navigable aqueduct is a magnificent structure which was built in the late 19th century to get supply to French troops because the border line with Prussia was just 2 steps away.

The junction at the Port of Épinal is linked to the Canal des Vosges at the navigable aqueduct. So I start pedalling on the multi-use trail called "Voie Bleue". It is on the axe Moselle-Saone which goes from Luxembourg to the city of Lyon, a 750-kilometre cycle route. I then follow the south track towards the Bouzey Lake or more precisely the reservoir in Bouzey in the middle of a beautiful forest. The reservoir supplies the Canal des Vosges with water and regulates its height to allow a good flow of boat traffic. There are several sizes such as the barges with the French Freycinet gauge standard and others that have different uses. Most importantly, we can enjoy a full program in the open air and go swimming, pedalling boating, paddling, hiking and mountain biking, etc.

A relaxing and friendly ride...

Before arriving, I still need to travel a few more kilometres to the rhythm of the locks which are all along the route. There are 8 of them in total; they are the only hills we will get during the day. So, I cycle up the 8 locks and then wander along the path, daydreaming or watching the sailors manoeuvring their boats while passing the locks. Here, everyone greets anyone, it is so friendly. Sailors always answer with pleasure and fleeting bonds are created. I must admit, this is exactly what easy living means. I feel the light breeze on my face and I admire the well-preserved nature while looking at the fields going by before my eyes. Meadows filled with local cows that are grazing guarantee the production of a good cheese.

When I arrive at the Bouzey Lake, I take the liberty of going on an excursion into the forest. No doubt, the trees there are the most beautiful. Some of them are deciduous trees such as ash or oak and others are resinous trees like larch, fir and spruce. Their variety contributes to the uniqueness of these journeys. My ride started on a forest trail which turned into a small bucolic path rambling through the high forest. Then, I reached the supply channel of the reservoir, another one, to go back home through the woods.

What a beautiful afternoon I have spent.

We love outings along the canal

Taking the greenway "Voie Bleue"

A 73-kilometre multi-use trail is on hand