Cycling along canals, getting lost in French towns, and wondering why nothing is ever open; such was the day. All whilst basking in the sun on our handlebars like lizards, with the road which goes ever on and on…

Saverne to Verangéville, near Nancy was the plan for today.

There was surprisingly little information about the cycle route; we followed Eurovelo 5 most of the way, but given that about half of all the Eurovelo routes are yet to be realised and not just remain pretty lines on a map, we weren’t confident that the cycle path up the Canal au Marne du Rhin didn’t just end at the tunnel…

In general, it was an easy day along canal paths and D-roads. We admittedly got stuck, lost the cycle paths and our patience and ended up cycling 12km further north in the hope of finding a tourist information, a cycle sign or a bookshop. We eventually left Sarrebourg with two maps, a fast cadence, and having visited the N4 twice as much as it deserved.

Sarrebourg was quite a nice place with the protective shield of hindsight; having found a bookshop (a minute before they closed for their 2 hour lunch break), we scooted in and got two maps, and were then assisted to some degree by a rather drink-happy man who enjoyed studying the maps sprawled across the handlebars. It became clear he had no clue how to read a map, but he decided to show us the way anyway and led us (actually accurately!) down to the end of the high street and onto the main roads. Well done to him! We continued along the road, decided to take several wrong turnings, and then paused to work out where we were and our futures for the next hour. Zara maintains that Joanne should have had coffee and it would have happened if she wasn’t suffering with caffeine withdrawal…

Somehow we then found our way back through little villages with shuttered houses to Hèming, and then a D-road led us to a cycle path down another canal, which then somehow turned into our original canal and yet had diverted. Those canal paths were very confusing. Of course, the maps marked them on, but rarely with names, and the signs around the canals only ever used names! But on the cycle path, at some point the rough tarmac turned into gravel, which then petered out into grass, and when we asked a French couple coming from the other direction, they said that it continued in bumpy grass for a fair distance. We reverted to the road and endured / enjoyed a very straight Roman-like D-road, which ploughed directly over the rolling hills, and seemed never to end. One minute we were cruising at a good 40kph down, and then next pedalling furiously to keep momentum over the next rise.

We also got to our 1,000th kilometer today!! It was by Cluse 35, lock 35, just before Saint Louis and the canal tunnel.

Having made the naive assumption that tonights accommodation couldn’t have the same number of stairs as that youth hostel, we arrived in Verangéville and discovered that in the 2 storey hostel, we had an attic room on the third floor. Not just that, but our luxurious suite comprised of a double bed and a plug-in toilet and a slim shower cabin all within a 15m2 space! It was an accomplishment in spacial design, and utterly useless for trying to fit two tired humans in. Especially when if Zara was standing in one area, there was little enough floorspace for Joanne to get up and go anywhere. But it was cheap, watertight and we didn’t fall through the floorboards! 👍

Small, but the curtain divide was at least useful!
Small, but the curtain divide was at least useful!
From the outside!

We failed at finding much dinner; we left the grim place with the intention of finding the centre of Verangéville, but it didn’t appear to exist. We ambled around the railway and an industrial area to stretch our legs, and eventually turned to asking the local inhabitants. One helpful man and his dog, in response to the question if we could find a restaurant or a grocery shop nearby, pointed at the nearby pizza takeaway as if we were short-sighted and shrugged as if it was the only place around. We bought one, took it back to our little room, and scoffed it whilst preparing the route for tomorrow. Zara was on a see-food diet and couldn’t not eat most of the baguette that was bought for tomorrow’s lunch too! Philippe has already sorted us a hotel in Saint Dizier, so that’ll be our destination on Sunday night!
Distance: 116.4km

Height climbed:525m

Moving time: 7h

Average speed: 17.4