Cycle Touring – Rivers Moselle and Saar.

In June and July 2015, we cycled the Moselle and Saar River cycle trails which was a lovely cycle touring holiday. We cycled over 300 miles for 11 days: 8 of them easy and only 1 total day off.

The Moselle River offers everything that should be expected from a typical European wine growing region. Lots of orderly rows of grapevines cover the steep slopes rising from sides of the river, making an especially enjoyable cycle tour and probably the most beautiful scenery we have seen on any of our river and canal cycle tours!

Nestled among the many vineyards are lovely quaint villages and hamlets with many of the houses built of stone and half timbered!

The Moselle is a river that flows through France, Luxembourg, and Germany and is a left tributary of the Rhine, which it joins at Koblenz – we started at Thionville.

On this tour we had cold weather, rain, and a heat wave up to 39 degrees; no accidents, no illnesses, no injuries – not even a puncture!

As usual I spent quite a lot of time planning the tour; there were great books and I developed my plan.

On Saturday 20th June we drove to Hull to get the overnight ferry to Rotterdam which is more like a mini cruise than a basic ferry. We had free champagne and I had prawn cocktails and a sirloin steak, Lynda had mushroom rarebit and cod with chips – all lovely – with plenty of good wine! It makes a great holiday start and an early arrival in Rotterdam.

The drive on Sunday from Rotterdam to Thionville was genuinely nice and easy and we arrived at the Hotel Romantik at about 2:30pm and then explored the town. Many of the buildings looked very newly restored which was probably a result of the re-construction of the buildings which were damaged in the 2nd World War. The Hotel was lovely, and we left our car in their car park and planned to spend our last night there after the cycle tour. We had a very upmarket dinner of Crab Ravioli and Turbot followed by a great cheese selection!

On Monday we took the bikes off the car and the panniers packed up and on the bikes. We were frustrated when we realized we had left all the emergency bike tools at home!

Although the weather was cool and very wet we cycled from the hotel down through the town which had a great cycle path in the middle of the road down to the river, it was very steep downhill and we would have quite a challenge going uphill back to the hotel when we returned at the conclusion of the tour!

We got onto the river cycle path by going down some very steep steps. It was lovely, wide, and tarmacked so a very pleasant cycle to start the tour.   

I had booked a hotel which was about 30 miles from Thionville in Remich for the first night which when we arrived there, we had nowhere to secure the bikes. We were very worried about the security of the bikes overnight, so we moved onto the Hotel Esplanade which was lovely – this was quite a challenging start!

Tuesday 23rd June was quite a challenge as it was both windy and cold almost all day. We went over the river on a bridge and the south facing bank was a very picturesque vineyard for mile after mile as we headed towards Konz. We had morning coffee in a very unusual Chinese restaurant – We love Chinese food and it was a shame we were not there for dinner!

With the poor weather we only cycled about 25 miles and stayed overnight in Hotel ALT in Konz.

The Moselle river joins the Saar River at Konz, and we will return there and cycle along the Saar path later in the tour.

The next day we left Konz after a surprisingly good breakfast and it was just a short way to the start of the bike train towards Bernkastel which was about 30 miles from where we had started. It was very well signposted with lots of information about the options which very well matched the books and the planning I had done.

We stopped for coffee at Trier which is awfully close to the excursion boat base – there was an excursion to Bernkastel where you could take the bikes on the boat!

The weather improved during the day and we cycled around Pfalzel.

There were lots of vineyards on the river slope. We cycled a big detour around Pfalzel and then onto Detzem where the weather was much better, and we had a lovely room in the Zum Anchor Hotel which was very close to the river

We had drinks and a relaxing time outside the hotel then a lovely dinner of pork with onions and mushrooms and then chocolate ice cream!

Thursday 25th June – Chris’s birthday today! We left Detzem after a lovely breakfast and we wanted an easier day today! It was a bit cool initially but later in the morning our tops came off for the first time in the tour and we did cycle over 35 miles today.

The scenery near the river was very pretty with lots of roses.

We had a lovely shared comprehensive cheese plate for lunch opposite the Piesport Vineyard – with a fantastic and very stunning view.

After the great lunch we started looking early for somewhere to stay. The first hotel we liked was full, so we cycled onto Bernkastel – Kues. It was a lovely afternoon but finding a hotel was quite a challenge!

Although we did go into Bernkastel in the early afternoon we could not find a hotel we either liked the look of or which had any vacancies so we decided to cycle back to a large hotel we had seen on the way to Bernkastel called the Weisser Hotel and Spa at Mulheim.

Although the hotel was on the other side of the river to the cycle trail, we were able to cross over the river using a bridge that was being built and although it was under construction with no safety fencing along the sides I managed to get Lynda to cycle across without noticing how dangerous it actually was!

The hotel was very unusual and different to any of the hotels we use during our cycle trips as it had bars and lounges filled with stuffed wild animals including polar bears, lions, and giraffes!  but it had a fabulous BBQ area and I had a lovely and incredibly special birthday evening!

They were aware it was my birthday from our registration and as soon as we sat in the BBQ area, they brought us glasses of lovely champagne!

The steak was cooked over a massive BBQ; was quite delicious and it was a lovely evening!

The steak was cooked over a massive BBQ; was quite delicious and it was a lovely evening!

Friday 26th June – we had now 5 consecutive cycle days and decided we would have an easy day today!

We thought this was the best cycle track of all the cycle tours we have done so far, and the weather was now hot, humid, and absolutely lovely. We had a late breakfast in the grand hotel and had a light lunch. We cycled into Traben where there was an exceptionally good cycle shop and we purchased a few emergency tools and some cycle oil!

We booked a lovely room in the annex of the best hotel in the town – The Hotel Moselschlosschen which is the home of a 100-year-old wine trader dynasty and is remarkably close to the river.

We had drinks at the hotel before dinner but sadly the hotel dining room was fully booked. However, we found a lovely restaurant remarkably close to the hotel with views over the river where we had Pork Schnitzel in a mushroom Moselle sauce.

Saturday 27th June.

We used the oil we had just purchased on both cycles and had a quite easy start in the lovely town and bridge except we then had a steep hill and rain and it was very cloudy!

We cycled into Zell which is a lovely little town in the Cochem-Zell district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany and we decided to stay overnight in the lovely little town for a relaxing day.

There was a very entertaining band and dancing in the town when we arrived!

We had a lovely afternoon sightseeing with the music and then dinner was a ham starter and a lovely rump steak for me and Stroganov and spätzle for Lynda. This was a particularly good relaxing day.

Sunday 28th June.

Zell was quite beautiful in the morning and we cycled over 35 miles today. The path gradually became quite difficult for a time although the vineyards on the river sides were very spectacular.

We Cycled to Tries-Karden and the first 20 miles were probably the best we have ever done!

Monday 29th June and Tuesday 30th June.

Today was our re-location day so we left the hotel early morning and got on a luxurious train very easily back to Trier. The railway staff were immensely helpful in getting us on and off the train!

We found the river again very easily and we cycled to Konz where we had coffee and applecake.  The weather was extremely hot now which was quite tiring.  We found the Saar River cycle path which was very narrow and the river ridiculously small – we could not imagine a cruise ship on this river!

However, it became obvious we had gone a little wrong and very soon crossed a busy road and came alongside a much wider river and cycle path where we met a lovely cycling couple – she German and he English, they live in Saarburg and they took us into the town Centre and the Tourist Office.

Saarburg is on the banks of the Saar River in the hilly country a few kilometers upstream from the Saar’s junction with the Moselle.

We chose a good hotel and booked in for 2 days so we could have a break!

We enjoyed the couple of days and had lovely food in Saarburg including Nutella Ice Cream Pancakes and had a complete day’s rest in this lovely town alongside the River Saar!

On the second day here, we explored the waterfalls and went on a tourist train to see the extended town area where we had a Steak salad for lunch and then Pork Schnitzel and a lemon pudding for dinner!

Wednesday 1st July

We left through the “little Venice” area over the bridge and set the cycle Garmin to direct us on the correct course back to Konz, unlike we did getting to Saarburg when we did get lost and followed the wrong section of the River Saar!  The weather was extremely hot today and we purchased lots of water to drink!

As you can see from the picture of Lynda!

We wanted to stay in the Park Hotel in Konz but they were full and so we stayed at the Romischer Kaiser Hotel. We had lovely Filet Steak for dinner.

We now had 60 miles over two days to get back to the hotel where we had started this fabulous adventure!

Thursday 2nd July

We left the town early although it quickly heated up to 37degrees! and as there was so much traffic, we decided to push the cycles for a while on the way back to the river trail as it was safer!

We went over the Saar bridge and onto the Morrell River Cycle path.

We continued cycling slowly as it was so extremely hot and checked into the Hotel St Nicholas Hotel at Remich; it was simply great to get into the shower and then go out for a drink! We had Veal steaks and chips for dinner washed down with Gewurztraminer wine back at the hotel – lovely!

Friday 3rd July

Today was the final cycling day back to the starting hotel in Thionville. After a great breakfast we stocked up with water and set off on the 30-mile cycle! However, our first experience was that, after the previous cycle on this route, they had dug up the cycle path for several miles to sink a water pike and a cable; this made it very awkward until, many miles later we reached the section they had completed and re-tarmacked making it a joy to cycle on!

When we returned to Thionville we had the steep upwards hill which we had to push much of the get us back to the hotel.  We were desperate for a drink when we got back to the hotel, but we met the hotel owner and he kept us talking and reviewing our cycle adventure and the history of the area until we almost collapsed!

Dinner was lovely; Scallops and then duck with cherries

Saturday 4th July

Lovely breakfast and the bikes and possessions accumulated and fastened to the land rover and we drove back to Rotterdam to get on the ferry back to Hull. We had an` an easy drive back to home the following day after a relaxing night on the ferry and fish and chips for dinner!

This has been a fabulous cycle tour and we had a wonderful time with great scenery, lovely hotels, fabulous food – probably our best cycle tour. Over 300 miles in 11 days, only one full day off, a heat wave upto 39 degrees, no accidents, no illnesses, no injuries – not even a puncture.  

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