Another nice day for a bike ride – go West!

A really nice day as the third day of a four-day weekend after the armistice holiday on Thursday and we decided to mount our bikes and head on off out of Strasbourg, go West!  The first picture shows the point where the Canal de la Bruche (wiki) meets the river that gives Alsace its name, l’Ill.  The Canal de la Bruche was built between 1681- 2 by King Louis XIV‘s fortification engineer Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban, who gave his name to the massive dam which defends the Southern approach to Strasbourg.

The canal was built to take the sandstone from the quarries at Soultz-les-Bains to Strasbourg to build the fortifications of the city including the Vauban dam and the Citadelle which are the two largest remaining parts of the fortifications of Strasbourg Vauban built and today the remains of the Citadelle are part of a wonderful park on the Eastern side of the city.

The second picture is of the first lock on the canal leaving Strasbourg its a double lock known as the Ecluse Koenigshoeffen.  The second picture is taken from the same spot looking back towards Strasbourg showing some of the many people fishing in the canal. Salmon have been back in the lower Bruche since 1996 (thanks to the transfer over the artificial Iffezheim dam on the Rhine) and Lamprey have reached Holtzheim in 2002 though much remains to be done further upstream and on tributaries of the Bruche to allow the fish to spawn.  We had just been talking the night before about having a Goose for our Christmas dinner when we ran into this group of them on the path.

The next picture is taken where the Canal is crossed by a road and is looking back towards Strasbourg.  We had just passed a sports ground where there were three football matches taking place featuring young boys.  The most noise came from parents watching the match featuring the smallest boys.

The canal was still used up to 1939 to transport wine, wood, bricks and tiles.  Because of being up to one metre forty deep it also served as a line of defence itself.

Along the canal there were sluices which would allow water to be drawn from it to irrigate the lower lying land around it.  There are a number of locks remaining along the canal.  Some, as the one here does, still have the lock-keepers house intact next to it.

The path along the canal was busy with people jogging, out for a walk, cycling and even some men in lycra cycling along the path seriously.  Although you wouldn’t know it from this picture where it looks deserted.

On the way home we took a different route on getting back into Strasbourg, which included on spot where the cycle route crossed a main road leaving Strasbourg.  Here there was a light controlled crossing so cyclists could cross the road in safety – that’s a sign of the commitment in this city to cycling.

In a park in Montagne Vert there was this memorial to the dead 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945 reminding us that the four day weekend is as a result of the armistice on 11th November.

The title for this post comes because the canal heads out of Strasbourg to the West but also from the song by the imperious Pet Shop Boys, enjoy:

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