Climbing again: Sideways!

3 May 2011
We were next joined by our son for a brief, lazy weekend while tied up opposite the huge red
sandstone chateau in Saverne in sweltering weather: too hot for us Philistines to venture across town
and wait for ages in the sun to see the peloton of the Tour de France whirl through in a brief blur with all
 the razzmatazz that accompanies it. Then it was on along the canal as it follows the Zorn valley through
the beautiful, steeply wooded hillsides of the Vosges to one of the more modern wonders of the French canal
system:the Arzviller Transverse Inclined Plane. Opened in only 1969, it replaced 17 locks thereby making an
impressive saving of some 8 hours for time-pressed commercial craft. It is also, of course, very much more
economical with water, the supply of which had been a constant headache, particularly in times of drought and
heavy usage, and the main reason for which it was built. Nowadays, with the fall-off in commercial barges
passing this way the main customers are the busy trip-boat and leisure craft such as Aquarelle.
We stopped for lunch in the big basin opposite the Inclined Plane and had a grandstand view of various boats
going up and down, which gave us a fair idea as to what to expect. It was then our turn to cast off, enter the
steel trough, tie up and glide quietly sideways up the 41 degree slope of 44.5m, a rather weird, unnatural
sensation which took all of 4 minutes! Further info for anoraks is to be found at: www.plan-incline.com

 
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