Thursday, 12 July 2012

We sleep in a Silage Pit

May 30th.  The Rhine-Marne canal swings north through Nancy at Varangeville but I decided to cut across to the south of Nancy along a network of small roads, canals and tracks using my recently bought maps.
From the moment we set foot in France I had sent Mike on a mission to scour the towns for local maps - it is not so easy to do this on horseback as many towns do not encourage horses, or may even ban them from civic areas, and there are always the problems of where to tie them and then coping with unsolicited droppings.    However I did manage to take advantage of a hole-in the-wall ATM while passing through St Nicholas-de-Port in the early morning..
 Following the short canal which links the Rhine-Marne canal in the Meurthe valley to the Canal de l'Est in the Moselle valley.  I have been unable to confirm its name, but seems to be variously described as Canal de Jonction, Canal de Fleville, or a branch of the Vosges canal or the Canal de l'Est - totally confusing, but very scenic all the same.  
We reach the Moselle river. Zorbee never misses an opportunity to grab a mouthful of verbage!
A very French sign...
After a long day we reached the afore-mentioned Toul and climbed over the hill to Bruley, where Welsh pony breeder Magalie Manet had offered to accommodate us for a couple of nights...
 We had a day off here and Magalie drove me up to see the small town of Bruley, which clings to a hillside clothed in vineyards.  A pilgrimage site at the centre of an established wine-growing area, the image of the twelfth century Chapelle Saint-Martin is apparently used as a logo by many vineyards in Lorraine.  Beside is the more recent neo-Gothic Chapelle du Rosaire and a grotto both of which are replicas of similar monuments at Lourdes.  The view out over farmland from the Chapel was stunning, but unfortunately I had forgotten to take my camera.
About to set off from Magalie's yard on June 1st...
Riding out through the vineyards of Bruley.
 Why do all the villages seem deserted?  The ghost town of Laneuville-derriere-Foug..
Another river to cross off the list - the Meuse at Ville-Issey..
 Les Trois Godelles or The Blue Cows of Commercy - looking as if they fallen into a vat of ink...
I passed this extraordinary piece of art by Patrick Hervelin on a roundabout just outside Commercy.  I had never heard the word 'godelle' before, but apparently it means 'cow' in Vosgien patois. No idea what the significance of the colour is, if any.

After another long day (over 40 kilometres) we ended up camped in a silage pit at Ferme Charoy in Erncourt, courtesy of dairy farmer Gerard and his nephew Benoit.

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