Le Plan Incline, Saint-Louis

The Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane is part of the Marne-Rhine Canal (Canal de la Marne au Rhin), located in the commune of Saint-Louis, between the towns of Saint-Louis and Arzviller in the département of the Moselle. It enables the canal to cross the Vosges Mountains.HistoryThe Marne-Rhine Canal was built from 1838 to 1853. The main problem it solved was going through the Vosges Mountains and especially climbing up its eastern side to its lower point, the Col de Saverne. This was first solved by means of a ladder of seventeen locks, allowing an overall level change of 44.55 metres over a distance of 4 kilometres. In 1969, these locks were replaced by the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane.Before the advent of self-propelled barges, the barges were hauled by two to four horses or mules, until the beginning of the 20th century. Then came the tractors, first on railways then on tyres since 1933, with electrical motors first and later diesel engines.The greatest energy is needed to start the move. Thus, the traveling via the locks ladder was very laborious, tiring, expensive and long.With 314 kilometres and 17 locks, the travel from Vitry-le-François to Strasbourg took six to nine days. Just using the locks ladder of Arzviller needed one whole day.
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Le Plan Incline Reviews

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  • We were on our friend's dutch barge and they have been up and down this engineering masterpiece a number of times. For us it was a first visit and to arrive mid afternoon and watch boats go up and...  more »
  • Taking the boat down and up, and a view in the engine room is a nice thing to do on a hot day, when you want to do something else with the kids. The boat-trip is interesting, you don't take the...  more »
  • An absolutely brilliant engineering achievement, the mere sight of it as you approach is awe inspiring. The boat ride including a descent and ascent on the incline was just amazing, if this was not enough the the scenery is typically Vosges stunning. It was an excellent afternoon that I will definitely be repeating.
  • After two hours waiting to go down the inclined plane with the boat, because of the sightseeing barge going up and down (which has priority), we moored on the left bank, in the only spot equipped with water (ok) and electricity (out of order), just to discover that the bank is closed by a locked gate near the bridge that crosses the canal. So you are literally locked in and there is no way to reach the few attractions which could be visited by foot. Moving to the other bank is not an option, because sightseeing barges have priority there (although this indication is largely ignored by visiting boats).
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