To the source and North. A trip up the Moselle River
We set off on the last Thursday evening of July 16, a four-hour trip to Dover. As always with us there was a problem at the port and we were advised to arrive ninety minutes early. The French had upped their security following the many recent issues in France including the Nice massacre. Anyway we were booked on the 2am sailing to Dunkirk. We arrived at 11:30pm after stopping to walk the dog a couple of times, this is his first trip abroad with us, (he looked disappointed not to have his picture in his passport) to be allowed straight through. No delay. They put us on the earlier ferry, so now we would be sailing at 11:59pm, great news.
After a calm and event free crossing we returned to the van on deck four to see how the dog had faired for the last couple of hours. It is important that you understand that the dogs favourite place in the whole world is in the front foot well of the motorhome. Anyway he looked really fed up that we had disturbed his sleep at 2am and was utterly pissed off that he had to move back into the rear of the van for the next part of the journey.
We only went about half hour to an Aire we have used before at Bergues.COORDINATES?? This is a great air (no facilities) it can take at least fifty vans so always space available. We arrived about 03:30 local time and after letting the dog do his thing it was time to get our heads down for a couple of hours.
We had already decided that we were going to try and complete this trip without using Motorways (where possible), the journey is as important as the destination, there is really so much to miss.
Friday morning we headed off following the dual carriage way to Lille before turning off and heading into the country. We drove until about 3pm and ended up at a stunning Aire at Giffaumont Champaubert, Lac Du Der, Champagne N48⁰33.209’ E004⁰45.852’ . There are two here but head for P5 it is slightly further away from the lake but by far the best of the two. This Aire has a barrier and a payment of 6 Euros can be made by card. The Aire is “camp site like” and there was plenty of room. There are great local facilities on the lake side including bars, shops and a casino. Also there were plenty of walks and a field of at least 20 acres to exercise the dog in. However, a word of caution, there are Mosquitos here so cover up.
After a peaceful night’s sleep it was back on the road. Still keeping off the Motorways we passed through many peaceful villages and eventually we could see in the distance what appeared to be a massive monument on the hill many mile in front, the road wound its way towards the monument and it turned out to be dedicated to Charles de Gaulle. We parked up in the first car park, especially for motorhomes, gotta love the French for always thinking of us on our travels.
We paid our entry (no charge for the dog) and spent time looking around a fantastic exhibition and museum dedicated to the French legend. The dog had a couple of firsts here, he road in a glass elevator and walked on a glass floor. I’m not sure what he made of this but I wish I had videoed it. After a walk around the top of the hill and photos taken the dog had another first, we had to exit through a turnstile, this did, to say the least, confuse him.
So on to our next stop, Bains les Bains, Lorraine, Eastern France, N47⁰59.944’ E006⁰15.872’ . This little Aire is in aliitle town where hot water springs have offered medicinal benefits since the Romans passed this way. We were there on a Saturday and the town seemed essentially shut. We went to the Tourist Office to pay and the lady was most helpful. She pointed out that there was a concert in the church that evening and that was a farmers fete the next morning eight kilometres away. We gave both of these local highlights a steer and settled down to taste some local wine. There is a public footpath that leads from this Aire that we walked Vino along which was very pleasant. For servicing the van there is another Aire in town that only offers a service point. It turned out to be a nice quiet evening people watching the old farts opposite trying to pack there van away.
As we intend to travel the length of the Moselle River it was time to go in search of the source. This is located in the “Col de Bussang, just above the mountain town of Bussang in the Parc Des Baloons Des Vosges. We stayed at the only campsite in town, Camping des Champes. This is a top quality site located on the Moselle River (when I say river I mean this is the size of a stream). The site offers everything you may need, indoor/outdoor pool, bar, reastaurent, great amenity blocks, drive over drain, bread shop etc.
A two mile walk from site brought us to the official source of the Mosel. This is set out in a gravelled area built into the hill where the beginnings of the great Moselle River trickle out into a man-made raised pool. Vino found great fun in cooling of in this. Photos done we started following it downhill towards Bussang. After about five minutes of walking we came across a hexagonal building, signed as “Source Marie”. We didn’t go in as the dog was more interested in running up the now slightly wider Moselle that ran at the edge of the lawned area. A local called me over to explain that the waters inside the building were like “Perrier” . We dutifully entered the unlocked door and down the steps to a tap in the wall. Throwing away what was left in our water bottles we proceeded to fill them with the spring water. A quick taste and sure enough natural sparkling water with that slight sweet taste that Perrier has. Fantastic.
So we’d seen the source of the Moselle. No more than just a trickle coming from a rock up a French mountain. Now to start the journey North and follow it to Koblenz where it meets the Rhine. This journey would take us through more of France, a few miles of Luxemburg and onward through Germany, but more of that in my next blog.