Parroy (that’s all folks)

Some of our flowers still blooming


Rather than complain about the darker evenings when the clocks go back, we try to view it the other way around: let's enjoy the lighter mornings for a while.

Sunday morning at Lagarde

Our winter plans had been to return to the UK at the beginning of December but we decided during the morning that we would go three weeks earlier than planned and booked tunnel tickets for next weekend.  The elongated summer weather was due to end in a few days and, with not much cruising available due to the water shortages, we felt we may as well be back in the UK getting more family time. The boat's booked into Parroy from 1st November, so we thought we’d arrive early and spend our last week there.  To that end, we set out for Xures on Sunday morning which was about halfway and where there was the perfect mooring for putting the remaining butterflies on the side of the boat.  Arriving above the lock at Xures we span the boat around so that we had the correct side to the bank.

Moored above the lock at Xures

With the continuing good weather, I also got on with more painting on the bows and after lunch we walked back to Lagarde to fetch the car.  On our return we noticed the plants were looking a bit droopy; I’d been forgetting to water them as it’s not usually something that has to be done at this time of year.  The situation was soon rectified and by later in the afternoon they’d picked up and weren’t looking too bad as can be seen at the top of this entry.

On Sunday we cruised four kilometres down two locks.


Monday was forecast to be 20ºC, cooler than of late but still very pleasant for the last day of October.  Looking at the 14-day forecast it was clear that autumn was now upon us but with no signs of frost yet:

We remembered overnight that the canals would be closed the following day for the 1st November national holiday, one of the five public holidays when this happens.  Rather than staying where we were for an extra day or two we thought we’d move on to Parroy during the day.

It was probably going to be the last cruise of the year since we decided to go to the UK in a week’s time so we had a real mix of emotions during the journey.  It's been a different cruising year in France than we've had before.  It's the first year since covid that many people have been on their boats and, although we were one of the lucky ones who cruised during much of the pandemic, it wasn't nice seeing boats unloved and unused.  At least this year we achieved our ambition of reaching Strasbourg by boat and also travelling through part of Germany to reach Luxembourg to meet up with previous work colleagues of ours who have made their home there.  

A lot of this year's cruising was on rivers which are not our waterway of choice, preferring the tranquil and generally quieter canals.  Saying that, we certainly enjoyed being on the Saar and the Moselle with their massive locks and commercials and we are certainly glad we've had the experience.  The other different thing this year has been the addition of three new grandchildren so we've had more time back in the UK than usual.  Once again it was another exceptionally hot summer in France and we were glad we were back in the UK for July and August.  Of course, the good weather continued and we've been able to enjoy a balmy autumn.

Leaving our last lock of 2022 (écluse de Mouacourt)

Once we arrived in Parroy, we spent the afternoon doing some of the things we have to do before leaving such as making an appointment for Buddy at the vets.  I don't like having phone conversations, let alone in French and with someone I don't even know.  To make it worse I have to explain that my dog needs tapeworm treatment (mandated by the UK for each entry) and ensure I understand the date and time of the appointment we've agreed upon.  On top of that, because we are constantly moving around France, we tend to use different vets for each visit so don't get the comfort of chatting to someone we've already met. 

On Monday we cruised six km down two locks.


It definitely felt cooler when we got up especially as it was cloudy and windy but all that started changing over breakfast as the day soon turned out to be lovely and warm if a little windy at times. 

As well as us there are three other boats who are mooring here for the winter months but there has been no sign of any life on the other boats. 

Our mooring until March next year

We think it’s a great place to moor and, apart from a smallholding on the opposite bank, the closest civilization is one kilometre away in Parroy.  The only drawback we’ve found is that the recycling and general rubbish bins have been removed for winter.

We had a good walk during the afternoon taking in the varied landscape of the area and were pleased to see several butterflies still out on the wing.


Another warmer day than expected and our daily walk took in the lake that acts as reservoir feeding the canal on the west side of the summit at Arzviller.  The lake is popular with fishermen and, in the summer months, holidaymakers use it for sailing and the like.

Dinghies shut away for winter on the distant shore


We had to go out in the car on Thursday as Buddy had his appointment with the vet to enable him to travel to the UK on Monday.  It was a 30-minute drive to the closest town, Dombasle-sur-Meurthe, and after his appointment we took the opportunity of being in a town to pop into a supermarket.  We had a slight detour on the return journey to go through the next closest town, Lunéville.  We wanted to see if it looked worth visiting, but we thought it didn’t look particularly attractive and agreed that we’d rather go for walks on our last few days.  Mind you the weather had turned and looked very much like rain was on its way, so the greyness didn’t help make the town look attractive.

By the time we got home, it had started raining and it continued until late into the evening feeling like our first proper rain for ages.  We should have guessed it was coming because of the warning sunrise that morning.

Red sky in the morning

It was also the first misty morning of autumn which was more obvious when looking out of the hatch the other way along the canal:


With the odd bit of rain on and off all day on Friday I’ve included some recent pictures of our five grandchildren rather than photos of damp landscapes or grey skies:

Skye, our latest, born when we went back in October

Evan, a surprise as he was born in September at 26 weeks 

Olly, born in March (with Polly, my favourite daughter [youngest])

Ellis, Evan’s older brother who's three next month

Our first grandchild, Dexter who'll be four in February, having breakfast after a sleepover with us

So, the car's packed and we're leaving tomorrow stopping at Châlons-en-Champagne on the way to pick up our post and catch up with boater friends.  We'll also pop in and see the kind French family who put me up in the summer when the car died and I'd missed the last train back to Metz.  They are long overdue a thank you from us and we hope the selection of English wines will rectify the situation.  

Well, that's it for this year, so we wish all our family, friends and readers a wonderful 2023 and that at least some your dreams come true. 

Lagarde (sightseeing for a change)


Moored below écluse 13

Monday was cruise day, and we followed the routine we’ve adopted ever since we started keeping the car with us after returning to the boat at the end of August.  Each time we move, Karen combines her morning run with taking the car to where we want to moor next. The reason we’re keeping the car with us now is because of the lack of supermarkets within walking distance of the canal between Nancy and Strasbourg.  As we intend staying in these areas for at least another month we will continue the lock hopping routine. 

Heading for our next stop

We moored about a kilometre short of Lagarde just below a lock which, once again, was just as remote and peaceful as any of the other locations we’ve stayed at recently.  After a quick lunch we walked up the canal to have a scout around Lagarde, a typical small Lorraine agricultural village that once had a quay as shown in a postcard from the start of 1900s.  In those days this area was German consequently the text on the card is German.

The quay is now home to a large hire boat basin, rather out of place in such a small village.  In addition to a couple of overwintering private boats we counted 40 hire boats which looked like the whole fleet must be in as there only seemed to be space for a couple more boats.

The point of the walk was to check out where we’ll moor next, and when we walked out of the far side of Lagarde there was lock which looked ideal to moor above.  One of the reasons it was ideal was because it had a bench which would be perfect for sawing logs on. It's hard to believe the cold weather will arrive soon and we'll be needing the stove lit but it's always good to be prepared.  We didn’t bother looking around the village but saw signs to one French and two German war cemeteries, so we made a note to find these when we’re exploring the village once we’ve moved up to the lock.

On Monday we cruised two kilometres through no locks.


With the warm weather forecast to last until the end of the month in this part of France we wanted to make the most of it by getting in plenty of walks, so over breakfast we worked out a good walk to follow on Tuesday. 

Upside down view on Tuesday morning

Most walks we follow have some sort of signage to a greater or lesser extent. Usually, they take the form of coloured shapes such as circles or triangles attached to trees or posts.  This particular walk wasn’t signed and looked like it followed farm and forest tracks for ten kilometres.  It was also rectangular so met one of our requirements of being logically circular.  Setting off we headed north from the canal across a field with a kale-looking crop:

We then walked on a causeway across the middle of a lake which had more birdlife in evidence than we’ve seen for ages:

After the lake the farm track turned sharp right but we knew we needed to go straight through the wood ahead of us.  There was no obvious path but, as we knew we had to keep in a straight line we pressed on.  As usual Buddy was on his lead which was just as well with the number of deer and red squirrels we saw.  We also saw a fox which is not something we often come across in France.

No obvious track

We finally came onto a forest track and followed it for another kilometre until it emerged the other side into more arable land where we turned east.

Looking back at the woods we’d come through

Heading along the brow of a hill we could see the village of Ommeray below, but our track bypassed the village and turned back south towards the canal.


It was at this point that we saw the only other person during the walk, a dog walker who we could see in the distance walking out of Ommeray.  The track back to the canal at Lagarde gave us wonderful views across to Germany:

Dropping into Lagarde we decided to go straight to the canal and get back to the boat, as we would be exploring the village on another day; however, we did walk past the mairie which had unusually placed flags.  Normally they are flown from above the main doorway or the second floor, but this was the first time we’ve seen them at street level.  Not only that, but they were very small compared with those that are normally flown on mairies.  It was traditional in other senses such as originally housing the village school. 

Lagarde mairie and its tiny low flags


As we haven’t been to a town to do some sightseeing for a while, we went to Sarrebourg on Wednesday to rectify the situation and also celebrate my birthday.  It was a town we hadn’t visited before as it was just too far away from the canal when we came through earlier in the year but having the car meant we could get there in around 40 minutes.  Our first port of call was the tourist office where we were furnished with a couple of self-guided town trails.  As it was approaching noon, we decided to have lunch first and went to good local restaurant recommended by the girl in the tourist office.  It was the sort of place we wouldn’t have thought of going into but were really glad we did and had a great time.  Amazingly, after a long and leisurely lunch, we were still up for doing the touristy stuff, mind you Karen was driving so couldn’t celebrate in quite the same way as I did.

Lunchtime venue

We started our tour down at the river Sarre that runs through the town and found the area that used to house flour mills.  The mills were replaced by apartments and other buildings in the 1950s and ‘60s but two millstreams can still be seen. 

Channels at top left and in the centre were millstreams

Apparently, there was a large town lavoir where the tree now stands but nothing seems to remain of that other than in old photographs.  We then made our way to the market square, and it obviously wasn’t market day because the square was being used as a car park.

The old market halls stood on the square but with rather a garish sign although the market bell helped detract the eye.

Sarrebourg wasn’t as large as we thought it was going to be, so it didn’t take long to look around.  The next square was called place de Cordeliers and was the original market square; the oldest surviving building there being the chapel of Cordeliers:

The theatre looked quite out of place as it seemed to be the only building in the town built in the Art Nouveau style:

Sarrebourg theatre

The hôtel de ville, in common with town halls in other French towns and villages, was still flying its Ukrainian flag, and stood on place Wilson, along with the town war memorial:

Next door to the hôtel de ville was a fine solid looking building, dating from the 1600s, built for the Count of Custine.  He was also known as the Lord of Niderviller, a pottery town we visited earlier this year.

Hôtel de Custine

A Hungarian sculptor in metal who we’d never heard of, Sandor Kiss, lives locally.  We were rather taken with the grills he designed for the original gateway to the library that had several Rococco style adornments. 

A fountain in the library courtyard also had Rococco style adornments but it was looking rather sorry for itself.

Fountain described as beautiful (?) in our leaflet

As was common with the large towns of the Middle Ages, it was surrounded by ramparts.  Originally the walls ran for over 1,600 metres interspersed by 28 towers.  Nowadays very little remains of the walls other than a stretch on the edge of parc de la Liberté…

…and a couple of towers lurking incongruously amongst modern buildings elsewhere in the town:

As I mentioned earlier, there was also a sculpture trail around the town.  Each year for the last 20 years or so, a new sculpture is added to the trail which seems a nice idea.  Even though the accompanying leaflet highlighted the places the sculptures could be found, there was no key indicating the name of each piece or indeed the sculptor.  The next few pictures show some of the sculptures we came across with the names taken from the pieces themselves.

Jean et Christophe by Monique Mol
La Grande Matinée by François Cacheux

Le torse by Gérard Ramon

Tellina by Elisabeth Cibot

We also took advantage of being in a town by getting some food shopping done on the way home.  Unbeknownst to me Karen had bought a rather nice bottle of wine and a selection of local cheeses on behalf of her mum as a birthday present to me so we spent much of the evening enjoying the same. 


After a busy day on Wednesday, we took it easy on Thursday, although I definitely wouldn’t call going for a morning run is easy but that’s why Karen does them and not me.  We took it so easy that we didn’t cruise the two kilometres up to the lock at Lagarde as we had planned to do. For my part I did some log cutting which I suppose is a form of exercise especially in the unusually warm weather we’re continuing to experience.


We decided to move up to the lock at Lagarde on Friday morning, but first of all, we combined moving the car with a morning walk, not that it was onerous as we only had to move the car a couple of kilometres.  It was another day in the mid-20sºC, and Buddy was really taking it easy.  When we go up locks, Buddy usually jumps off when we’re near the top, has a quick sniff around and then jumps back on board.  Today, when we neared the top of the first lock he jumped off as usual but rather than sniffing around, he just lay down on the grass until I called him back.

Near the top and a relaxed Buddy

In Lagarde we stopped at the hire boat base and took on water.  A sign said that there was a charge of 2€ but I suspect that if we’d filled up and just left then we wouldn’t have been spotted as the hire boat office was at the far end of the yard.  Whilst the tank was filling, I walked down the quay to see about paying.  There were a couple of guys working on a boat that was out of the water, but they weren’t interested in taking money and directed me to the office.  The office was hidden away from the quay and after ringing a bell several times, a woman finally appeared and seemed really surprised when I said I wanted to pay for water but was happy to take my cash and put it in a drawer.  A few minutes after moving off from the water point, we were going up the lock where we were mooring for the weekend.   

Moored above écluse 12 in Lagarde

Once again it was a stunning open location with no passers-by and the only sign of life being farm vehicles, even the house next to the mooring seemed empty but we did notice the shutters were closed in the evening.  Mind you, there seemed to be a tractor passing on the road opposite every ten minutes or so that I began to wonder if we were in some farm machinery display, especially as some of them seemed to be vintage vehicles.  After a while I realised that the pre-war tractors were moving log piles from the woods and re-stacking them in communal areas in the village, a task that always seems to be carried out using the oldest equipment.  Late silage making was also going on but with more modern tractors, and the cut fields were being sprayed by muck spreaders.  This meant it wasn’t particularly peaceful until the evening but it wasn't intrusive apart from the waft of muck coming in through the open hatch each time a spreader went past.

Our view for the weekend

On Friday we cruised two km up two locks.


We stayed put on Saturday doing various odd jobs during the morning and then had a walk around midday, making sure we took in the two small WWI cemeteries that are at either end of Lagarde.  Lagarde is only a small village (pop. 185) but was the scene of a devastating conflict early in WWI.  On the 11th August 1914, 553 French and 379 German soldiers died in the battle and were buried by the Germans in the two cemeteries over the following two days.  The French cemetery lay to the west of the village, signposted by a Michelin sign:

The cemetery, as always seems to be the case, was well maintained and contained the marked graves of 352 men with the remainder in two ossuaries at the rear.

We then walked through the village to find the German cemetery. 

Centre of Lagarde

Beside the church stood a memorial to the battle of Lagarde on 11th August 1914:

The bilingual sign for the German cemetery included the German War Graves Commission logo which I always find rather stark:

The cemetery itself wasn’t as well maintained as any other we’ve visited which was a bit sad.  The crosses mark the graves of two soldiers, sometimes three:

We hadn’t realised until this visit that 100,000 Jews fought in the German army during WWI; one of them was buried in the cemetery:

Unusual sight of a gravestone marking a Jewish German soldier

Two stones can be seen on top of the gravestone of the Jewish soldier.  It wasn't until this visit that we learnt about the Jewish custom of placing stones on graves rather than flowers. Both customs are probably rooted in the belief that the soul is kept down for longer. 

We were going to put the butterflies and name on the remaining side later in the afternoon, but the bank was just a bit too high for us to do it comfortably without hurting our backs.  As we want to get the outside finished before the weather breaks, we’ll probably move back to the lock at Xures on Sunday where we did the butterflies and name on the other side.