I had heard for a long time about the Vallée des Eclusiers, located between Hofmuhl and Arzviller in Lorraine, a stone’s throw from Alsace. The place is not necessarily very well known, but those who have been there always talk about it with pleasure. So I was looking forward to discovering it!
Starting point of the Valley of the Lockkeepers
The beginning of the valley of the lock keepers is located in Hofmuhl or Arzviller depending on which side you start from. If you are on a bike, a nice option is to start from Lutzelbourg because you can ride along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin on the bike path to Hofmuhl and the Vallée des Eclusiers.
Hiking or biking
The Vallée des Eclusiers is an 8.2 km long greenway that connects Hofmuhl to Guntzviller (Auberge Altenburger). It is part of theEurovélo 5.
It can be explored by bike or on foot, as you wish. A large paved track runs along the canal and the course is thus accessible to all: it is flat, paved and the distance is not very long, so it will be suitable for the whole family!
The route is really bucolic: between the trees, the big pink sandstone rocks and the lovely lock houses, you feel immediately elsewhere and away from any agitation (even if there are many walkers on weekends), it is very pleasant.
As a bonus, the place where to have a gourmet break is quite found since a creperie, the Papar Hasard is installed in the lock number 2. Run by the bubbly Breton Valérie, you can enjoy delicious crêpes in a superbly pleasant environment.
The 17 locks of Arzviller in Lorraine
The route has the particularity of passing through theold lock scale of Arzviller-Henridorff, which extends over 3.8km. This series of 17 locks located on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin used to be used to pass the important difference in level of 44,5m existing at this place: it took a whole day of navigation to pass all these locks!
Following the construction of the Inclined Plan of Saint-Louis-Arzviller, this part of the canal was diverted and the place closed to navigation in 1969. If you come to the area, I advise you to combine your walk in the Valley of the Lockkeepers with a visit to the inclined plane, it is worth it!
The old Valley of the lock keepers in full mutation
The Valley of the Lockkeepers was then abandoned for a long time, until a project of the Community of Communes of Phalsbourg gave it a new life. The lock houses have been restored one after the other and are now home to a work camp, a lodge and also the residences of several artists.
For the moment, we can’t visit artists’ studios but this could be a project in the coming years, with the possibility of participating in workshops. I had the opportunity to meet stone sculptor Cedric Oesch, painter Valerie Mazen and metal sculptor Samuel Ovroutski, who all have interesting projects!
Another notable place, we find at the lock number 3 a surprising greenhouse: it is an aquaponic greenhouse (mixing plant culture and fish breeding), which we can visit every Sunday in company of Alain Kocher, the tenant of the lock.
You don’t have a bike and want to rent one? You can rent a VTC at Vélocation. Click here to book it online.
Want more ideas in the area? Find here my ideas of activities around Dabo and Phalsbourg!
- Delightful course
- Restored lock houses
- Suitable for families
I liked a little less
- Not yet the possibility to visit exhibition places/artists’ studios, but it will certainly come!
My photos of the Valley of the Lockkeepers