About Alsace-Lorraine

Let alluring Alsace seduce you

Boating holidays in Alsace indulge the senses with all manner of experiences — rural, urban and everything in between. Two beautiful canals lead to vibrant cities in France and Germany, and along the way you get to enjoy lake resorts, village cafés, towering castles and some of the finest cuisine in France! Enjoy a deliciously unique blend of cultures you’ll find nowhere else!

 

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Map showing where the Alsace boating region is in France

Find your bearings...

Alsace Region map

 = Le Boat Base           = Canal           = Navigable river           License required = Licence required 

 = No navigation beyond this point

The perfect boating region for...

Nature Lovers

Truly a unique region of France on the western border of Germany, the Alsace-Lorraine-Saarland is rife with lush forests and expanses of marshland that support a host of wild creatures. The Delta de la Sauer is just one of the 21 nature reserves in the area.

History & Heritage

Grand castles and soaring cathedrals in Germany’s Saarbrücken and France’s Strasbourg signify the rich historic past of the region. Whilst enjoying the history and heritage of these waters, be sure to see the Basilica St. Johann in Saarbrücken and Rohan Palace in Saverne.

Gastronomy

In Alsace-Lorraine-Saarland, the pig is known as le seigneur cochon (the noble pig). Obviously, pork is big on Alsace boating holidays. Choucroute alsacienne, for example, is sauerkraut with sausage, pork or ham. Try tourte, a pie with ham, bacon or ground pork with eggs and leeks.

Useful information

A bit of background

A careful look at an Alsace-Lorraine regional map reveals two intersecting waterways: the Canal de la Marne au Rhin and The Canal des Houillères de la Sarre. They form an L-shape from Germany’s Saarbrücken south down the Saar Valley and east to Strasbourg, France, known as the city of roads. These two fabulous waterways create an ideal setting for your boating holidays in Alsace.

 

The Marne au Rhin runs 314 kilometres (195 miles) from Vitry-le-Francois to Strasbourg, passing through the amazing Arzviller transversal inclined plane completed in 1968. It replaced 17 locks and raises boats 45 metres (147 feet). The Canal des Houillères de la Sarre dates from 1860 and extends 64 kilometres (about 40 miles) from Saarbrücken to the Marne au Rhin.

Who is Le Boat?

Emerald Star outside of Ireland is known as Le Boat. If you book a destination outside of Ireland your booking will be with Le Boat and our boats and bases proudly display our Le Boat brand. But don't worry, you will still receive the same great service that you would get from our Emerald Star bases in Ireland. Le Boat is Europe and Canada's 'Number One' boating holiday provider and, like Emerald Star, have been operating on the waterways of Europe for 50 years. Your holiday is in safe hands.

Whilst France expanded its canal network in the west, with fledgling efforts starting in the 1500s, the east languished. Finally, as the Industrial Revolution hit full swing, construction of the Canal de la Marne au Rhin began in 1838 and was finished in 1855. The canal’s purpose was to link Paris with Alsace and Germany. By the 1950s, thousands of tractor-towed, 300-tonne wooden barges (bilanders) plied the canal, but the traffic died out in the 1970s. Leisure craft rule now.

Purchase a boating licence before you begin your cruise if you plan on cruising from Saarbrücken to Apach along the waterways of Germany and Luxembourg. Our sales team can help you. Navigating the Canal de la Marne au Rhin and the Canal des Houillières de la Sarre is easy and suitable for beginners.

The locks on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin and Canal du Rhône au Rhin are automatic and easy to operate, and there is no charge to use them. Canal des Houillières de la Sarre locks have lock keepers to help with the manual locks. There is no charge.

 

Opening hours: During the busy summer season locks are open 07:00–19:00 (7:00 p.m.) on weekdays and Saturdays, and 07:00-18:00 (6:00 p.m.) on Sundays. These hours are for the Canal de la Marne au Rhin and the Canal du Rhône au Rhin. During the busy summer season the locks on the Canal des Houillères de la Sarre are open 08:30-18:30 (6:30 p.m.).

 

Public holidays: All locks closed on: 1st May & 1st November.

Moorings are generally plentiful on all the canals.

To find out how to get to each of our bases in this boating region, as well as what facilities and amenities are available at each base or nearby, click on the relevant base below:

  • Hire of the boat and its onboard equipment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • Towels and linen for all passengers
  • A boat handling demonstration prior to departure
  • Technical support
  • On-board maps and visitor information
  • Passage through locks
  • Optional holiday extras
  • Boat damage waiver
  • Running costs (diesel, gas, engine wear and tear) - charged by the engine hour (by the litre in Scotland).
  • Travel to and from the base(s)
  • Waterside services if you use them (i.e. moorings where a charge is applicable, pump-out if needed, water, etc)
  • Cancellation plan & any travel/personal insurance
  • Food and drink

Download our region guide

We've produced a handy PDF guide for this region to give you an overview of all the stops and things to do along the waterway.

Download our region guide

Interactive map of Alsace-Lorraine

  = Le Boat base       = Point of interest

Great to see...

Must see
Der Wasserweg im Sommer, in der Nähe von Straßburg

There are so many things to see in this big town, with its streets bursting with flowers! This is the home of the European parliament and its impressive building can be seen from the canal. Strasbourg is also famous for its Gastronomy—foie gras, wines of Alsace, chocolates and eaux de vie.

Must see
Roses hanging from trellis

It's a small and friendly town, possessing the region's characteristic steep-pitched roofs and window boxes full of geraniums. There are some beautiful traditional old half-timbered houses in town. Saverne is also known for its famous Rose Garden, displaying over 550 roses.

Must see
Plano inclinado de Saint-Louis-Arzviller

Arzviller is a pretty little village mainly known for its huge and unique boat lift that you will use to lift or lower your boat 45 metres up or down the canal. There's also a small, but interesting visitor centre if you fancy learning more about the lift's history.

Must see
Place Stanislas ornamental streetlight

Nancy is a great city with so many treasures to see. The Place Stanislas, with its wrought iron grills and balconies lighting up during the night give the city a wonderful dimension. The Duke's palace, with the "Lorrain Museum," or the great gardens in the old Nancy, are also a treat to discover.

Must see
Porte des Allemands (German's Gate) in Metz

If there were a list of the most beautiful cities in France, Metz would certainly be near the top! Its history and heritage are unique. Take a walk in this wonderful town, especially downtown, where you will enjoy viewing the city hall. Metz is a perfect place to visit and to relax.

Must see

Saarbrucken is the dynamic metropolis of the area with its numerous shop, restaurants, and its large patrimony. Don't miss the national theatre, and the basilica Saint-Jean.

A typical alsatian village, Boofzheim is a beautiful place to see. In the thick of the town, between the Lutheran Roman Catholic Church and the old belltower, you will discover timbered-houses from the eighteenth century.

The town is famous locally for its brewery.  Brewing has been here since 870 A.D. and the local family owned brewer, Meteor, has a brasserie and museum. The brewery offers guided tours. 

Lutzelbourg is easily identified by its towering castle which overlooks alpine wooden houses, giving the city a fairytale appearance. You can take a guided tour of the city by train. Also worth a visit are the city's many shops, the crystal cutter at “Maison Wurm”, and the boat museum.

In this typical floral city, you will find a beautiful church tower in a baroque style. Faience is also very developed in Niderviller; you will enjoy a visit to the porcelain factory.

A pleasant and serene village, Hesse has preserved its charm and character over many years. Apart from a well-organised port, the village also has the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey from the 11th century, which is now the village church.

Gondrexange is a charming city famous for its huge lake. It is an excellent place for fishing or swimming. There are also watersport facilities.

With its flower-lined harbour, Lagarde is part of the Lorraine Regional Natural Park. The church "Saint Jean Baptiste" is also a beautiful sight to see.

"I float, but I do not sink" is the saying in Saint-Nicolas-De-Port, a welcoming city accustomed to fluvial activity for centuries. Enjoy visiting the great basilica and the museum of cinema and photography.

In Pont-à-Mousson, visit the old church Saint-Laurent. The city is also known for its unique red fountain. Downtown is a very good place to have a drink or a meal.

A beautiful city full of history, Thionville has an impressive history and deserves to be visited. Discover the old abbey, the church of Beauregard, and the bridge-sluice. Thionville is also a dynamic city focused on culture. Why not checking out the theater?

Discover the medieval part of Sarreguemines, the winding streets and the houses of character 'Art Nouveau style in “Rue de France”. If you have time, there is also a casino there. Why not trying to earn your evening?

Sarralbe is a charming and quiet village with a beautiful fountain downtown. Plus, you can see the biggest mill in the Moselle.

This is an ideal place to stop if you are interested in watersports. The Etang de Mittersheim, which is close to this mooring, offers a full range of watersports and there are also several restaurants in close proximity.

Itinerary suggestions

To help you get an idea of how far you can travel in the time you have, here's a selection of routes to and from our bases in this region. You dont have to stop at all the places listed or follow the route exactly. So long as you return your boat to your end base by the date you've booked - you're free to enjoy your cruise however you like. For a comfortable pace, allowing you time to regularly stop and explore, we'd recommend an average of 2 - 4 hours cruising each day.

Boofzheim RETURN via Strasbourg

Boofzheim
Strasbourg
Boofzheim

8 hr(s) of cruising

52km 18 lock(s) 3 nights

Boofzheim RETURN via Strasbourg

The grand Rhine River is felt near the city of Boofzheim, where you’ve just entered natural areas of marshland abundant in wildlife. You’ve noticed the contrasts of Alsace canal boat holidays in France. You see the travelling takes you to cities, lakes and small villages full of charm. You look forward to visiting the UNESCO World Heritage city of Strasbourg to sample its varied pleasures! 

8 hr(s) of cruising

52km 18 lock(s) 3 nights

Boofzheim RETURN via Saverne

Boofzheim
Strasbourg
Hochfelden
Saverne
Boofzheim

25 hr(s) of cruising

148km 50 lock(s) 7 nights

Boofzheim RETURN via Saverne

The urban culture of Strasbourg does not disappoint you as you marvel at the Cathédrale de Nôtre Dame that soars over the Old Town. The building dates from 1190, but it underwent much change over the years. Museums, wine tasting, fine dining — it’s all part of boat holidays in Alsace! Relaxing on the canal on a sojourn to Rohan Palace in Saverne just adds to the pleasure!

25 hr(s) of cruising

148km 50 lock(s) 7 nights

Hesse to Boofzheim via Strasbourg

Hesse
Niderviller
Arzviller
Lutzelbourg
Saverne
Hochfelden
Strasbourg
Boofzheim

24 hr(s) of cruising

104km 44 lock(s) 7 nights

Hesse to Boofzheim via Strasbourg

The incredible Arzviller boatlift is an engineering marvel, lifting or lowering boats 148 feet. The charm of boat holidays in Alsace is the juxtaposition of the new and the old, with both coexisting in harmony. Eclectic shops, gourmet restaurants, fascinating museums, impressive castles, as well as swimming, bicycling and watersports are all part of the fun!

24 hr(s) of cruising

104km 44 lock(s) 7 nights

Hesse RETURN via Saverne

Hesse
Niderviller
Arzviller
Lutzelbourg
Saverne
Hesse

15 hr(s) of cruising

60km 28 lock(s) 4 nights

Hesse RETURN via Saverne

You board your floating villa, and canal boating in Alsace France immediately enchants you! The Arzviller boatlift captivates as you transit the inclined plane, a true engineering marvel, and you snap so many pictures you fill a memory card on your digital camera! Water skiing, kayaking or playing a spot of golf awaits you on your adventure in this unique region! 

15 hr(s) of cruising

60km 28 lock(s) 4 nights

Hesse RETURN via Lagarde

Hesse
Gondrexange
Lagarde
Hesse

11 hr(s) of cruising

60km 14 lock(s) 3 nights

Hesse RETURN via Lagarde

You enjoyed the lake resort of Gondrexange. The beach called and you listened, feeling relaxed whilst on your Alsace canal boat holidays in France. Now you’re headed into the Lorraine Regional Nature Park, where you plan to cycle in the shade and feel the soothing touch of Nature. You’ll also stop to poke around in Lagarde, a beautiful little village so typical of Alsace.

11 hr(s) of cruising

60km 14 lock(s) 3 nights

Hesse RETURN via Nancy

Hesse
Gondrexange
Lagarde
Saint-Nicolas-de-Port
Nancy
Hesse

28 hr(s) of cruising

152km 50 lock(s) 7 nights

Hesse RETURN via Nancy

The Alsace-Lorraine-Saarland is mostly situated on the west bank of the upper Rhine River, and it contains some of Europe’s most beautiful canal cruising grounds. Known for superb fishing, watersports, châteaux, upscale shops and all the pleasures of chic urban destinations, boat holidays in Alsace treat you to exquisite scenery and a sophisticated setting.

28 hr(s) of cruising

152km 50 lock(s) 7 nights

Hesse RETURN via Strasbourg

Hesse
Niderviller
Arzviller
Lutzelbourg
Saverne
Hochfelden
Strasbourg
Hesse

35 hr(s) of cruising

156km 68 lock(s) 7 nights

Hesse RETURN via Strasbourg

City chic and amazing waterways enthrall you on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, one of the prettiest in Alsace. You pass through upscale laid-back hamlets on your way to lively Strasbourg, whetting your appetite for urban flavours. You’re in the thick of a Cosmopolitan Cruise canal holiday in France, and you realise that it just doesn’t get any better! 

35 hr(s) of cruising

156km 68 lock(s) 7 nights

Hesse RETURN via Saarbrücken & Metz (Licence required)

Hesse
Gondrexange
Lagarde
Saint-Nicolas-de-Port
Nancy
Pont-à-Mousson
Metz
Thionville
Saarbrücken
Sarreguemines
Sarralbe
Mittersheim
Hesse

71 hr(s) of cruising

433km 75 lock(s) 14 nights

Hesse RETURN via Saarbrücken & Metz (Licence required)

ou’ve always gotten the most out of life, and now as you guide your own floating villa down the waterways of three countries you feel like a king! You can’t wait to tie up in the next city, or to have fun with watersports at resort lakes. Five-star dining, superlative museums and more await you on extended boat holidays in Alsace!

 

Please note: A license is required for this cruise. Ask us for more details.

71 hr(s) of cruising

433km 75 lock(s) 14 nights

Hesse RETURN via Mittersheim

Hesse
Gondrexange
Mittersheim
Hesse

14 hr(s) of cruising

60km 26 lock(s) 3 nights

Hesse RETURN via Mittersheim

Alsace canal boat holidays in France inspire you with amazing landscapes. As you travel from lovely Hesse to the etangs of Gondrexange, you find yourself amidst natural beauty in a land of forests and lakes. Perfect for a relaxing break!

14 hr(s) of cruising

60km 26 lock(s) 3 nights

Hesse RETURN via Saverne & Saarbrücken

Hesse
Niderviller
Arzviller
Lutzelbourg
Saverne
Gondrexange
Mittersheim
Sarralbe
Sarreguemines
Saarbrücken
Hesse

54 hr(s) of cruising

266km 88 lock(s) 10 nights

Hesse RETURN via Saverne & Saarbrücken

Flexibility and leisure time go right together, ensuring that your boat holidays in Alsace are unforgettable. The city of Saarbrücken is just over the border in Germany, offering chic boutiques, gourmet dining and marvelous sunsets to all who venture near. The joy of canal cruising is the ability to set the pace and choose where to linger for a day of pure relaxation

54 hr(s) of cruising

266km 88 lock(s) 10 nights

Hesse RETURN via Saarbrücken

Hesse
Gondrexange
Mittersheim
Sarralbe
Sarreguemines
Saarbrücken
Hesse

38 hr(s) of cruising

206km 62 lock(s) 7 nights

Hesse RETURN via Saarbrücken

You chose this cruise for your boat holidays in Alsace for its focus on Saarbrücken. You leave and return to this wonderful city, timing your plans to attend one of the many music and art festivals held during the summer. Travelling down the canal to linger in mediaeval Hesse is on the itinerary, as is a visit to lake resorts and picturesque Saaralbe.

38 hr(s) of cruising

206km 62 lock(s) 7 nights
Added on 05 May 2018

Christina Myers said

Not always sure about the overall boat maintenance, but when something goes wrong they respond quickly and pleasantly to get you going again French waterways very efficient on the Marne et Rhine - we were able to see a lot
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Hesse - Hesse
Cirrus B
Added on 19 October 2017

Larry Jackson said

Great reservation service, great maps and explanations on-board, boat was clean and well-maintained...the beds were a bit uncomfortable and pillows were lumpy. It was a fun way to travel and see a small part of France.
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Boofzheim - Boofzheim
Cirrus B
Added on 25 September 2017

Tom Bar said

Great service, vessels and prices! Quiet relaxed cruise with nice towns and great landscapes...
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Boofzheim - Hesse
Cirrus B
Added on 23 September 2017

Svetlana Kosyakova said

We had a great trip from Boofzheim to Hesse on a great boat Grand Classique. We selebrated 2 birthdays while on the travel and had a great time during 7 days. I will definetely reccommend Le boat company (and actually did this already to everyone who asked about our holiday in Alsace:-) There was not a lot information about canal boating on Russian websites and I communicated with Leboat sales team intensively and got all the answers very quickly. Teams at the starting and finishing points were super professional and very patient and helpful. It was our first trip along canals and we felt a bit nervous. We were explained everything and Leboat people checked if we undersood everything and correct. We had a small technical problem (our falt) and the service team arrived in an hour and the engineer fixed everything very quickly. Great service. Many thanks!! I am glad I selected the way from Boofzheim but not from Hesse- we had a week to prepare for going through the Artzviller lift and tunnel ride, it was enough time to feel confident in riding a boat. Great small villages to stop and walk in the evening.
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Boofzheim - Hesse
Grand Classique
Added on 08 September 2017

Wayne Sedgwick said

We rented a Cirrus B for two weeks. Plenty roomy for the two of us, both of us could be working on a meal at the same time. The boat was in excellent shape for it's age. Having a door to the bow and one at the stern made easy access forward and aft for handling dock lines at the locks. The staff was more than helpful, the check in person arranged for a taxi for us from the train station when we called in a panic, us not speaking any french and finding no one in Sarrebourg who spoke english. We also had a glitch with the heating system and the mechanic promptly fixed it so we could get on our way. Will we rent from Le Boat again? Probably not as we now want to buy our own boat and spend the summers cruising the canals of Europe! But we would recommend Le Boat to anyone interested. We would also recommend the Hesse to Boofzheim canal trip, beautiful views, wonderful towns and cities.
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Hesse - Boofzheim
Cirrus B
Added on 21 July 2017

Peter Schmidt said

Very fine holiday with good services from Leboat. Just a bit too busy staff on departure made instructions somewhat poor. A quiet and easy going route - fine for beginners.
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Dear Mr Schmidt,
Thank you for your feedback. We are sorry to learn you felt your instructions to your boat were somewhat poor. In view of your comments we have forwarded your feedback to the base team.
We are pleased you enjoyed your cruise nonetheless and would love to welcome you on board with us again soon.
Best wishes, The Le Boat team
Boofzheim - Boofzheim
Calypso
Added on 05 July 2017

Robin Mckean said

They were invisibly heloful. It wss a great adventure.
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Hesse - Boofzheim
Royal Classique
Added on 16 September 2018

Antony Harrison said

This is the 7th cruise I have done with Le boat. Excellent service and well looked after bases Excellent cruise as usual. One thing I do not like is the introduction of a damage deposit of €300 AFTER I had paid €165 non refundable damage waiver. Even the reception could not tell me what this was for .
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Hesse - Hesse
Salsa A
Added on 09 September 2018

David March said

The boat was not properly equipped, several railings were badly damaged, some controls/indicators did not operate, some bed-linen though freshly laundered was still dirty. A beautiful and exhilarating stretch of canal between Nancy and Saverne wirh plenty of quiet cruising. Historic villages, towns and cities along the way. Locks, shallow and DEEP . . . and the shiplift.
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Hesse - Hesse
Sheba
Added on 17 August 2018

Alex Strizhev said

Personnel was very helpful. This was our first canal boating experience and naturally we had lots of questions. All were patiently answered. Service is great, boat can be improved.
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Thank you for your feedback. We have forwarded it to the base so that they have heard your kind words. We are happy you enjoyed your experience and look forward to you cruising with Le Boat again sometime in the future.
Boofzheim - Hesse
Horizon 1