Tuesday 20 September 2022

Laneuveville-devant-Nancy (le corps parfait)

Sun rising at Millery


With only one more stop on the Moselle before leaving the river and heading into Nancy, we set off under grey skies on Tuesday morning.  It was remarkably warm considering the sun wasn’t out and it felt so muggy we expected rain at any time.

Leaving Pont-à-Mousson on Tuesday

After going through our one and only lock of the day the sun started to appear, and it stayed that way pretty much all day with temperatures back in the high 20s.  I know it seems like I mention the weather constantly these days but please bear with me as we are desperate to get some decent rain to have any chance of some canals reopening this year.


Amazingly, after passing Autreville-sur-Moselle, we started running into weed and in some places it was completely across the river.  I say amazingly because the flow tends to stop any weed building up on rivers but with so little rain this year the flow is negligible hence the presence of weed and we could soon feel it getting wrapped around the prop.  We pulled up on an island where there was a quay for loading gravel onto boats for our first ever trip to the weed hatch on a river.  

The main channel ran to the west of the island and the other channel, which was still quite wide, ran past Millery, our destination for the day.  After clearing the prop we carried on and soon found the 30-metre pontoon we were looking for and as it was empty we tied up.  Being on the non-navigation side of the island meant we wouldn't be getting any passing traffic so we would have a quiet couple of days not worrying about wash.  As I've said before it's not wash from commercials that bothers us but the wake of speeding river cruisers and speed boats who either don't care or are not aware of the impact of their speed.

Moored at Millery

The pontoon wasn’t completely empty as there was a small day boat tied up on the bank side so not taking up space for visitors like us.  Soon after we arrived a man came along, looked at its large outboard motor and then wrote down details of it in a notebook.  It transpired that he was from the mairie, and the boat had been left there for four months and they had been unable to trace the owner.  I never found out why he was taking details of the outboard motor.

Millery was a smart village, and we were surprised to find it had no commercial outlets whatsoever, not even a baguette dispenser or a hairdresser let alone a bar or restaurant, although there was a fully restored lavoir which we were pleased to find:

The lavoir was originally built in 1811 but was badly damaged in WWII after which is was rebuilt along the same lines as the original using war compensation funding.  Unfortunately, the wooden frame began rotting and it had to be dismantled in the 1970s.  In 2010 it was rebuilt on the same lines again, using local oak and reclaimed tiles with the help of la foundation du patrimoine or heritage fund.

The lavoir’s guttering down pipes

We did find a small cottage where the owner re-upholstered chairs which I suppose could be considered a commercial outlet and there was also a large mairie, a church, a war memorial and a concrete stringed instrument with breasts.

 Marie to the right and behind the memorial

The instrument with the left breast thrown over its shoulder was entitled 'Le corps parfait' or 'The perfect body'.  There was no other information on it and searching on the web was problematical as you can probably imagine, especially with Karen in close proximity.

We spent most of the rest of the day sitting on the pontoon having occasional chats with passers-by who all seemed to take an interest in us or at least the boat.

On Tuesday we cruised 12 km up one lock.


Karen was happy when she returned from her morning run as she'd found a few walnuts and feels the walnut harvest may have started.  She’ll also be happy as we’ll soon be off the river onto a canal where it’s easier to stop by walnut trees and do some gathering.  While on walnuts, those that she picked and pickled earlier this year are now ready and I’m rather glad I’m the only one who likes them.  During her run she’d crossed the Moselle further upstream and saw the bridge had a sign similar to that on the bridge we’d crossed in Pont-à-Mousson at the weekend.  This one indicated that the bridge had also been destroyed in September 1944, but it wasn’t restored until more than three years after the one at Pont-à-Mousson.  Ferryboat owners must have been extra busy for a few years in this area of France.

Being on a pontoon at Millery meant it was an ideal spot for starting to repaint the sides of the boat.  Most places we moor on rivers tend to be against high quays so the vast proportion, if not all the sides of the boat are hidden from view; much of my day was consequently spent prepping one of the sides.  Without too much direct sun it was ideal weather for working outside and it was also dry, although there were the odd short showers later in the afternoon after I’d packed up for the day.


It rained hard while we had breakfast on Thursday, but it had cleared up by 10.00am so we set off on our last cruise before leaving the Moselle.  About three km from our final large lock, we were aware of a commercial bearing down on us.  We quickly checked our traffic app and saw that the boat was only 110 metres long so there would be plenty of room in the lock for both of us.  As we let her pass us, we could see she was full of coal which wasn’t surprising as the app had told us she was going to Frouard, the commercial port of Nancy, where the main goods transported seem to be coal.

Sharing Custines lock

Arriving at Frouard, we turned off the river and headed into a lock cut where there were two locks.  On the left was a large one leading into the port and we could see the coal boat already on its way up.  We had to take the smaller one on the right which marked the start of the canal de la Marne au Rhin (est).  When we rose to the top, I went up to the éclusiers’ control room to pick up a télécommande that is used to operate the locks on the canal.  Whilst there I asked if we could take on water and he kindly set the hose up for us.

Goodbye to the Moselle

Regular readers may recall that we travelled along the canal in May this year on our way to Strasbourg so we would be retracing our earlier steps for a while.  Leaving the lock, we started passing through the outskirts of Nancy and had 15 km to travel before reaching the other side where we planned to moor.  As we neared the centre, we passed an Alstom factory that had had some artwork installed since we came through earlier in the year.  Alstom are major producers of rolling stock and the artwork seemed to complement both the art deco design of the building and the products made inside.  The artist was a girl called Koralie who rose to fame as a graffiti artist and is now world renowned for her works on buildings such as this one in Nancy.

The artwork installed in summer 2022

We had two lift bridges to go under before going through the centre of town and both were being readied for us as we approached.  As we came through the second one, we were in the port of Sainte-Catherine where we stayed when we visited Nancy before.  The port is on the road leading under Sainte-Catherine's gate which is about 200 metres from the famous Stanislas Square.

Porte Sainte-Catherine in the centre

Almost immediately afterwards we went through the main pleasure boat port in Nancy, and like all pleasure ports we pass it was packed with boats, not surprising with so many canals closed.  Another reason ports are packed is because of Brexit. Unless non-French resident Brits get a long-term visa, they are limited to the time they can spend cruising so many have already finished their summer cruising and left their boats in ports for the winter.

When we reached the outskirts on the other side of Nancy we stopped at a handy canal-side supermarket where I filled up with fuel while Karen did a food shop. Setting off again we went past the junction with the Embranchement de Nancy or canal de Jonction and up one more lock.  We were then out in the countryside and moored just above the lock where we could see the river Meurthe below.  It was an ideal spot to get on with painting and if we end up staying a while, and start running short of water we could always pop back into the lock which had a water tap. 

On Thursday we cruised 23 km up five locks and through two lift bridges  A long day for us, and we’d been fortunate that all the locks had been ready, and the lift bridges opened as we approached them.


After days of a chance of rain being forecast but little, if any, actually falling it’s ironic that the reverse happened on Friday.  The reason for stopping at Laneuveville-devant-Nancy was to get on with some painting and with dry but cooler days forecast for a while it seemed ideal.  Having done a lot of prep over the last week or so the plan for Friday was to get a first coat on one of the sides.  As I began mixing the paint, I felt some rain in the air so immediately stopped.  The clouds grew thicker and within a couple of hours we had a short shower, so I was glad I hadn’t started. 

Karen's walnuts taking over one of the fruit bowls

Having been on the river where commercial traffic passes 24 hours a day it was strange being on a non-commercial canal where the locks are only open between 9.00am and 6.00pm.  We were expecting quite a bit of passing boat traffic during those times as we were on the only open canal in northeast France.  Sure enough, two hotel boats passed during the day both of them on their way into Nancy where they would spend the weekend before returning to reach Strasbourg by next weekend.  When we’d passed the port in Nancy, we’d noticed half a dozen hire boats on the visitors’ moorings and two of them also came through on Friday on their way back to their hire bases near the inclined plane halfway to Strasbourg.  


Saturday, again promised to be a sunny day but we awoke to grey skies with no sign of the cloud cover shifting so painting was cancelled for the day.  Two more of the two hire boats came through at about 10.00am when we were leaving for a walk.  The sun came out as we left and we had a good long circular walk with the return half on the towpath beside the Embranchement de Nancy until we hit the junction just down from where we were moored.


The temperature had certainly dropped overnight and we both felt that if it remains low it won’t be long before we start lighting the stove in the evenings.  Saying that, it was a lovely sunny morning on Sunday which meant I could look forward to a good session of painting.

Sunrise on Sunday at Laneuveville-devant-Nancy

The painting was semi-successful in that I got what I wanted to do done.  The trouble was the colour; the original blue was a mixture of 50% Oxford blue and 50% black or so we believed.  When I repainted the blue on the roof, we’d decided to go for 100% Oxford blue rather than faff around mixing paints.  Since doing that we have found it too bright so decided to darken it down for the sides reverting to the 50/50 mix.  By the time I’d painted one panel and it had started drying it was almost black so I’ll be trying a 25/75 mix on the next painting day which looks like being Monday.

During the afternoon we found another circular walk this one taking in the banks of the Meurthe and the village of Art-sur-Meurthe where we hoped to be able to look around a large 17th century monastery.

Crossing the Meurthe on an iron footbridge

When we arrived in the village, we found that the monastery was now used as a private school so wasn’t open to the public.  The little church in the village had a couple of stone plaques in memory of those who died locally during the Napoleonic wars.

The monastery was used as a hospital during the wars and the lefthand plaque commemorated those who died of typhoid in the hospital.  The righthand plaque commemorates the hundreds of soldiers who were buried in the ‘Dead Pond’ in the woods outside the village.  The nationalities included Rhinelanders who came from the Rhineland (French Rhénan), the area to the east of the river Rhine that has changed hands between France and Germany many times over the centuries.

Outside the chapel stood the village war memorial with the names of three young men from WWI and one from WWII:

A little further on we came across yet another war memorial, this one commemorating locals who died in the 1793 French Revolutionary war and again those in 1813 during the Napoleonic wars:

On a cheerier note, we also found two Michelin road signs from 1935:


With a lovely sunny start, I was able to get on with more painting before watching the funeral procession which followed the London service for the Queen.  I used new proportions for the paint and we both think it’s right now and matches the original colour.  We cannot believe how much it has faded over six years, but then it has been exposed to a lot of sunshine.

Having been moored in the same spot for nearly a week we’ll probably move on on Wednesday.  We’ll have to carry on eastwards which is the opposite direction to the way we want to go but with no improvement in the water levels we have no choice.  Karen’s been researching likely spots to moor by reading our blog entries from when we came along this way in May.  She had in mind one particular pleasant spot but couldn’t find any photos of it so concluded it must have been a lunchtime stop.  It made us realise that we should take pictures of all places we moor, not just the overnight stops, but don’t worry they won’t necessarily be included in the blog.  

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