Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Sarre Canal, Lalique Museum, Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche Crystal Museum. and a Black and White Movie in Wittering

We found a forest that we could walk in.  It was beautiful as well as providing some shade and relief from the heat.  Of course the bugs also enjoyed the change of climate.

While in Wittring I sat outside with the local community and watched a delightful old fashioned silent black and white movie complete with three people providing all the sound effects.  The story was about a man (seen on the screen) who finds a wine bottle floating in the canal with a note in it.  As he searches for the person who wrote the note he has adventure after adventure meeting all types of people. It was entertaining, with perfect sound effects.  It was in truth a modern day film done in an old style.  It reminded me (a little bit) about our cruising through the South Pacific when we used to put notes in wine bottles and toss them into the ocean, hoping someone would find them.  

The black and white movie with sound effects produced by three talented people.  The man with the backpack was from the local newspaper.  This was a big event for the village.

We drove through Bitche  and stopped at the Crystal Museum.  Saint-Louis Crystal was one of the originators of cut colored crystal with its signature vibrant ruby art glassware.  Since 1829 the company has been focused on the production of crystal glass items.  It was interesting and informative with a variety of different types and styles of crystal with 20 videos showing the techniques of four centuries..  While the end product was different from the Lalique Museum which was close by, it was a worthwhile visit.  The emphasis was tableware, lighting, barware and decoration.  

In the mid 19th century, Saint-Louis Crystal produced the first mass colored glass objects.  They introduced the technique of the overlay of crystal, and cut to produce the imbedded color designs inventing malachite crystal effect and then perfecting the etching process.

The effects of layers and etching

Note the intricacies of the glass in the base of this vase

Decorative glass

Interesting technique for this vase with different colors and depth of the glass.  Two to five layers of glass or different colored crystal were superimposed and successively corroded by acid until the desired effect was obtained.  Sometimes the pieces were finished at the grinding wheel.

The same day in the same valley we visited the Lalique Museum in Wingen-sur-Moder, Alsace showcasing the amazing work of René Lalique.  The jewelry he made was delicate and intricate. We saw his perfume bottles, drawings, and tableware items.  He was known for his design of lamps, iconic car hood ornaments, and the glasswork which adorned ocean liners as well as the coaches of the Orient Express.  It was a treat. The museum is where the Alsace Glassworks was originally built by Rene Lalique shortly after WWI.  Today the factory has been enlarged and has around 250 people continuing the Lalique tradition.

Lalique perfume bottles

Crystal detail

Lalique crystal piece with ocean theme

For me this necklace was one of the most magnificent pieces in the museum.

Vase with seahorses

Mold for the vase before the seahorses are added

It's hard to comprehend how the liquid glass is poured into these molds and incredible crystal pieces are produced.

The intricacy and delicacy of this piece barely demonstrates the genius of Rene Lalique

Walking along the canals is a continual feast for the senses.   The peacefulness of the water, the trees and the very air we breath helps keep us feeling happy, relaxed and grounded.
Sticking up out of the water are pieces of what was once the canal supporting wall.

Many different shades of green reflected in the stillness of the canal

Viewing the canal wall from across the water


What is around the bend?

More reflections

Monday, September 5, 2022

Niderviller, and Mittersheim Along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, Plus our New Moroccan Table Arrives.


Wishing you all good health

We met a fellow woman bargee Anja and had a lovely visit.

Our daily walk took us along the canal that bisected a large lake.

It's fun seeing someone's art along the canal.  These people had a sense of humor.

One day we need to follow the path

When we were in Morocco we visited a fossil factory.  These intrepid people excavate stones filled with fossils from a quarry and turn the stone into beautiful furniture, plates, and a variety of other items.  I decided we needed a new dining table for Rabelo.  Fortunately delivery from Morocco to France is supposed to be straight forward.  The two week delivery date came and went, but eventually our new table arrived.  Part of the arrangement with the factory was that the table would be delivered not just to the boat, but placed inside.  Instead we had an extremely disagreeable delivery man.  We found helpers and were able to get the top onto the deck of our boat.  (Unfortunately there was damage to two corners from rough handling). The two bases were left on the grass.  This isn't what we had agreed to.  Fortunately Bernard from the boat yard where we were tied up used his brain and came up with a "Come-Along."  Two grey haired men and a woman (our captain) managed to get the top into the boat and in place.  They were brilliant.

It was a struggle getting the 250 pound slab of stone on board.

Our delivery man didn't even bring the base of the table on board.

The delivery man made it very clear he would NOT bring the table inside, even though that was the original agreement when we made the purchase in Morocco

Our new table was delivered only as far as the deck.

A Come-Along was devised to lower the table into the boat through a skylight

This is how the table top was going to be lowered into the boat

Here comes our new table

It was quite a process moving this heavy table top into the boat.

Here it comes

Tom and Estelle are moving the table top into place.  It came with stone stands.

Our new table from Morocco with 320,000,000 year old fossils embedded in the stone

It s time to find new chairs for our dining table.  We are thrilled with our purchase.

The canal is so peaceful and picturesque.  We never tire of the scenery

Sunset along the canal with bales of hay

Farmland along the canal

Tom and I made a new friend during one of our walks.

With the heat we've had, being able to walk in a forest makes it more pleasant
A common sight in France

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Le Vallée des Éclusiere or The Valley of the Locks, and What's Left of the Seventeen Locks Replaced by the Arzviller Inclined Plane, France


Rabelo:  our home while we're in France

The Canal de la Marne au Rhin is 314 kilometers long. Originally it had 181 locks, and went from the Marne River to the Rhine...from Paris to Strasbourg.  The canal was a vital transportation artery for coal, iron ore, cereals, Alsace potash, wood, oil, and wine.

It took fifteen years to build the  Marne au Rhin Canal from 1838 to 1853.  The canal allowed barges to transport goods through the Vosges Mountains, which included climbing up the eastern slope through the Teigelbach Valley.  This was resolved by what was called a ladder of seventeen locks, and a level change of 44.55 meters over a distance of 4 kilometers.  In 1953 these seventeen locks were replaced by the Saint-Louis Arzviller inclined plane.  

This old photo can give you an idea of what it was like in the 1800's as the canals were dug out and sides reinforced.

Before barges had engines, they were hauled by two to four horses or mules, then tractors first on railways then on tires.  Men, women and children also pulled the barges.  It took one whole day to traverse the seventeen locks.  Another issue they faced was the fact that this section of the canal was so narrow that it was extremely difficult for barges traveling in opposite directions to cross.

One person was needed to man each lock.  These seventeen lock-keepers had to take care of the locks seven days a week for twelve hours a day.  Their responsibilities included the maintenance and functioning of their lock.  Some of the lock keepers kept cattle, goats, sheep, hens or rabbits.  Others had gardens with fresh vegetables, etc. The bargemen would barter with coal, or cereal or even wine for fresh provisions as they passed through the valley.  Sometimes the baker from Arzviller would pass by selling fresh bread.

Some of the old lock houses have a magnificent backdrop.

These locks wasted a great deal of water plus they leaked.  During the summer they needed more water than could be compensated by the surrounding small river and ponds.

A pound used for supplying water to the canal system.

Today this area of seventeen locks is a tourist attraction.  A lovely walking path has been created for people to appreciate what once was while going through a forest, passing by the ponds, and admiring the dramatic backdrop.

A little art for our viewing entertainment while we walked along the closed canal.

The stunning views as we walked through the valley.

The old lock houses are lived in, many with additions and improvements.  Meanwhile the dried up old canal and locks with their broken doors seem rather forlorn.

Some parts of the canal and locks have water sitting in them.  They look like mosquito breeding grounds to me.

The remains of old lock doors.

The lock houses are still occupied

Someone built their own log cabin?

More art

Using old metal parts for art

Areas of the old canal have plants growing in the stagnant water as well as down the walls.

Parts of the old canal still have some water.

Rotting old lock doors.

A mound of material left over from the days when these old locks were still functioning before they were replaced by the Arzviller Inclined Plane.

The Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane

 Here is a tourist boat plus a holiday boat.  It takes approximately 4 minutes to cover what originally took a whole day.