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Along the waterway

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

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Christine

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

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The cycling route in the heart of nature

That’s it. I made up my mind this morning. I have decided 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 around me and water on either side.

Since I live in town, I can rapidly reach the bike path which I follow to cross the town centre along the Moselle River towards the Port. Yes indeed, 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. There I was, pedalling quietly on my superb electric red moustache bike, manufactured only 2 steps away, surrounded straight away by nature and calm. What a delight !!!

Viewpoints alongside the Echappée Bleue trail

On my way, I passed many joggers, cyclists and walkers who greeted me and as did the sailors standing on the deck of their boats. After 3 kilometres, I got off my bike for a first break to admire the navigable aqueduct passing over the Moselle River. From there, the choice is given to continue the ride to 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 in Épinal is linked to the Canal des Vosges at the navigable aqueduct. So, I started pedalling on the multi-use trail called "l’Echappée Bleue". It is on the axe Moselle-Saone which goes from Luxembourg to the city of Lyon, a 750-kilometre cycle route. Then, I followed the south track towards Lake Bouzey 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. Foremost, we can especially enjoy a full program in the open air and go swimming, pedalling boating, paddling, hiking and mountain biking, etc.

A relaxing and convivial ride...

Before arriving, there remained a few more kilometres to be done to the rhythm of the locks which are all along the route. There were 8 of them in total and were the only relief for the day. So, I went up the 8 locks and then wandered along the path, daydreaming or watching the sailors manoeuvring their boats while passing the locks. Here, everyone greets anyone, it is so friendly. There, sailors always respond with pleasure and fleeting bonds are created. One must admit that this is just what easy living means. I felt the light breeze on my face and I admired the well-preserved nature while looking at the fields alternating before my eyes. Meadows filled with our local cows were grazing, guaranteeing the production of a good cheese.

When I arrived at Lake Bouzey, I took 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 "l'échappée bleue"

A 73-kilometre multi-use trail is on hand