Lush and unspoilt, welcoming and natural, with a powerful and iconic historic heritage, the waterways between Alsace and the Ardennes offer untamed landscapes and unexpected discoveries. Immerse yourself in a way of life that’s festive, friendly and full of surprises… and don’t miss one of the eastern canals’ finest treasures: the Saint Louis Arzviller boat lift, which is 50 years old this year.
Vital statistics of a very special kind of lift
Name: the Saint Louis Arzviller boat lift
Nickname: the boat lift
Date of Birth: 27 January 1969
Contractor: Voies Navigables de France (VNF – French Waterways Authority)
Altitude difference: 44.55 metres
Address: Rue du plan incliné, 57820 Saint-Louis
Distinguishing features: Ministry of Culture and Communication’s 20th-century Heritage Award
An ingenious project – and it’s not a wind-up!
It took four years of work before the Saint Louis Arzviller boat lift finally replaced the 17 traditional locks in the ‘Vallée des éclusiers’ (Lock-Keepers’ Valley), which has now been converted into an 8.2 km Green Cycleway.
What’s so great about it? Instead of taking a whole day to get through the various locks, it now takes less than five minutes of your canal boat cruise.
How does it work? There are several types of boat lift, each with its own way of working. On this 50-year-old jewel in the eastern canals, the canal boat is carried in a caisson. It climbs or descends a slope on rails and it’s the transverse structure that makes this boat lift such a unique focus of interest in Europe.
The equipment is kept in top condition. In February 2019 the hydraulic jacks were overhauled and one of the two winches was replaced. That was a big project, but it will help to make sure that the boat lift will last for many more years.
Starting point: Locaboat’s Lutzelbourg Base. Then cruise westwards along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin to get to this famous boat lift for its birthday celebrations.
- Entertainments will be on offer throughout the tourist season, from 1 April to 31 October. A long weekend of celebrations will mark the anniversary from 24 to 26 May.
- Throughout the three days there will be fascinating exhibitions about the boat lift, its equipment and the port of Strasbourg as well as many other tributes.
- From 25 to 26 May, entry to the boat lift will be free and tour boats will offer descents of the boat lift for a small charge.
- There will also be entertainment for all the family. The special Mothers’ Day photo booth is bound to be a favourite, and there will be plenty of musical entertainment as well.
Special offers: Partner restaurants and accommodation are offering special deals at budget prices.
Stay… just a little bit longer
Before you set off again on your Pénichette® or river yacht, there are a few things you might want to check out. Just 200 metres from the boat lift, you could try alpine sledging: it’s great fun, sliding through the trees for 500 metres with amazing views over the lake. Or if you’re an art-lover, you could take an hour-and-a-half walk to the stunning medieval Lutzelbourg castle that overlooks the valley. It’s not far from our ideally-located base.