Barging On European Waterways’ Panache Through Charming French Villages: A Culturally Immersive Adventure

European Waterways Panache In Lutzelbourg. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Canal de la Marne au Rhin meanders into the charming Lorraine village of Lutzelbourg. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

Yesterday, I introduced our barge adventure on European Waterways’ Panache. Part of what I enjoyed the most was the culturally immersive experiences in charming French villages along the way.

I got the feeling that I was experiencing the “real France,” away from the beaten tourist track.

One such experience was in Lutzelbourg, where we arrived in the afternoon after meandering along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin. Rounding one bend, we looked up to see the Château de Lutzelbourg, high up on a hill overlooking the village, as we made our approach. This was the stuff of fairy tales.

European Waterways Panache In Lutzelbourg. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
View of Panache from Château de Lutzelbourg. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

We docked in the center of the village to overnight and enjoy evening fireworks to celebrate the religious holiday, “Feast day of the Assumption of Mary.”

The next morning, the barge’s captain Willy walked us to a local boulangerie (a bakery), where we went behind the scenes to watch bread and pastries being baked.

European Waterways Panache In Lutzelbourg. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Meeting the bread bakers in Lutzelbourg. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

It was the type of experience that may have been difficult had we been traveling on our own, but we were welcomed into the busy kitchen, which was brimming with the ubiquitous bread culture that permeates this country.

We learned that the baker had been away from Europe only once, to Cuba and the Dominican Republic. He enjoyed what he saw on those exotic islands but said he needed no more travel. He was happy back at home baking bread and living as a Lutzelbourgian.

European Waterways Panache In Lutzelbourg. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Croissants fresh from the contented baker. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

Our itinerary varied from European Waterways’ published itinerary, which we wrote about in Let’s Go Barging! Leaving Strasbourg On European Waterways’ 12-Passenger Panache.

The leisurely pace of barging: In six days, we covered fewer than 100 kilometers from Xouaxange to Strasbourg, both in France.

We started in Xouaxange (population 344) instead of Nancy,  the intellectual capital of Lorraine and home of the Art Nouveau Movement. We skipped Hochfelden, where we missed indulging in the excellent local beer at the Meteor Brewery, family owned since 1640 and the last of its kind in Alsace. Being the first season of operation, such modifications were expected. Nonetheless, charming villages like Lutzelbourg were not in short supply.

Spending a morning with the bread bakers was but one of many experiences during our week. There’s more to come. Stay tuned.

Life in In Lutzelbourg. Like a Fairy Tale? © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

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