Caryl and Brian's World Bike Tour

European Tour 2010 X - Germany, France

Back Home Up


EUROPEAN TOUR 2010 PART X - Germany, France

Koblenz, DE to Huningue, FR

September 4 to September 20, 2010

Start 61,594 miles (98,550 km):

End 62,090 miles (99,344 km) cumulative




Video Map


bulletOnly in Germany would a town rebuild itself for a garden show.
bulletA second time down the middle Rhine is just as rewarding as the first.
bulletWe found a lot more to Mainz than before.
bulletIt takes a while for Mannheim to grow on you.
bulletSpeyer has one huge Romanesque church.
bulletEverybody who had a bike was on the road at Karlsruhe.
bulletA guided tour of Strasbourg yields interesting facts.
bulletIt was a surprise to find the campground at Freiburg so full.
bulletWe learned about French energy sources at the Maison d’Energie.

Section 1

Koblenz to Mainz


 Looking up at the ceiling in a hall at St. Stefans in Mainz


September 4 to September 8


As we sat on the train enroute to Koblenz we watched out the window as we passed down the Lahn river.  Being a nice day, there were all sorts of folks out enjoying themselves.  The river was filled with canoers and the bike path was busy. 

What really caught our eye were the cute towns and really great castles and churches along the way.  So now added to the “to-do” list is the Lahn radweg.  That’ll be one for another year.

We arrived at Koblenz to find that it was even more torn up than last year.  The city has been undergoing a multiyear renovations project in preparation for the national garden festival of 2011.  Last year the huge statue at the Deutches Eck was covered in scaffolding.  This year the surrounding roads were all torn up.  Also the campground was closed for renovation.  Now just think, how many cities do you know that would tear themselves completely apart just for a garden show.  That’s the German gardeners for you.

With all that construction we had to move up the Mosel a few km to find the nearest open campground.  The next day we passed back through Koblenz to head up the Rhine.  We were considering a stop in Koblenz with Caryl’s folks when we rent the RV in October.  But with the mess it’s in we decided to forego that.  At least this year we did get the opportunity to climb up that big statue at the Deutches Eck and view the boat appearance of the joining of the Mosel and Rhine rivers.

Looking down at the ship like Deutches Eck

The Rhine river is one of the most amazing rivers in all Europe.  It’s a huge transportation corridor for cargo, passenger, and pleasure boats.  Standing at the Deutches Eck (German Corner) at the junction of the Mosel and Rhine you’ll see dozens of ships pass up and down stream all day long.  This river is busy.

It is such an enjoyable ride up the middle Rhine.  This section is chock full of castles and half timber filled towns.  It’s such a unique place that the entire section from Koblenz to Mainz has been placed on the World Heritage list.

Last year we stopped to tour around every town.  This year we just enjoyed the ride along the river.  We were surprised to see how many tourists there were were considering it was September.  Certainly in June last year it was much less busy.  We’re wondering how it will be in October.

We rode as far as Bacharach and stayed in the same campground we stayed in last year.  The facilities aren’t great, but the river side setting is wonderful.

Our second day on the middle Rhine was absolutely beautiful.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather. 

Last year we stayed on the west bank all the way from Mainz to Koblenz.  This year we decided to take the ferry at Bingen and ride through Rudesheim.

Nice square in Rudesheim

Rudesheim is a very touristy town with lots of trinket shops, restaurants, and hotels.  It’s a place where all the tour busses stop for any middle Rhine tour.  It’s definitely a place we’ll be stopping at with the folks later on.  For now we checked out the RV parking situation and headed on.

Here’s where we got a bit off track.  Instead of staying on the official Rhein radweg we wound up on a rough dirt trail next to the river.  Some of it was just being prepared for pavement, but much of it was rough dirt.  We bounced and banged our way along until coming to pavement right near the town of Eltville.  Then we once again found the correct route and rolled easily on to the campground at Mainz.

Castle at Eltville north of Mainz

With two days of rain expected we knew we needed to set up and prepare for another drenching.  We wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while.  So out came the tent plus the homemade awning.  We carefully surveyed the campsite making sure it was high ground and set up.  We were ready.

What do you do when your airline company loses your reservation?  That’s exactly what happened to us.  When we got online to pay for our second bags we got a message saying our reservation couldn’t be accessed because all flights had already been taken.  That came as a bit of a shock.  We were still in Europe.  There was no way we could have taken all our flights.

So, seeing as we were right near Frankfurt and since the day was supposed to be quite rainy, we decided to take the train to the airport where we could straighten out the mess.  We also wanted to check out places to park the RV we’d be renting in October and where we could tell Caryl’s folks to meet us. 

We went into the airport and wound up spending most of the day just sitting around.  It was an absolutely awful day anyway so what better way to spend it.

The next day we headed into Mainz where we took the walking tour.  It wasn’t a tour with a lot of explanations.  It was just a map with numbered sites listed. 

Surprisingly even though we’d spent a full day seeing Mainz in 2009 this tour took us to many places in the city we hadn’t seen before.

Courtyard at St Martins cathedral in Mainz

Of course it went by and into the huge Cathedral, St. Martin.  But it also went by the old quarter of Mainz where there are still several half timber houses.  Eventually we wound up on the hill overlooking town at the church of St. Stefan.  Inside are the famous stained glass windows made by Chagall.  They are very blue giving the church interior a rather ethereal look and feel.  The overall blue effect reminded us of the cathedral in Brazilia, although this church is much older and much better built.  They say over 200,000 come to Mainz every year just to view these windows.


Famous Chagall window at St Stefans in Mainz


With just about 1 hour left we hustled over to see the small but interesting and free Roman/Germanic museum.  It is housed in a wonderful old mansion on the second and third floors of one wing.  It contains artifacts from Roman through Medieval times.  Most interesting are the explanations and maps about how the Roman and Byzantine empires grew and fell and how they related to this region.  They also had many paintings showing the costumes of various Roman citizens, from slave to lord. 

Several of their artifacts are quite unique.  One is an old Roman medical kit that includes some OB/GYN tools that look just about the same as their modern counterpart.  I guess inspecting that part of female anatomy doesn’t require much in the way of innovative tools.  They also had an Islamic chess set in which the pieces looked more like blobs rather than anything alive.

On the wall of the museum there was an absolutely beautiful Byzantine style mosaic.  This is a modern copy made by students in Ravenna, Italy of one found in their museum.  The guard can tell you precisely the number of stone pieces contained in that mosaic.  If you look closely you can see that each piece sits at a slightly different angle.  This is to ensure that the mosaic glitters no matter what angle you see it from.

For such a small museum, it really did have some interesting artifacts. Unfortunately the one museum we really wanted to visit was closed for renovation.  This one contains the remains of 5 Roman ships found when they were digging to built the new wing of the Hilton hotel.  It would have been nice to compare these with those Viking ships we’d seen in Roskild.  But it was not to be.

Section 2

Mainz, DE to Strasbourg, FR


Statue in front of the Rathaus in Mannheim


September 9 to September 14

South of Mainz along the Rhein the wine country continues for many more miles.  Here the radweg winds its way through the vineyards and goes past many mostly tiny wineries.  Some are so small they look like garage cottage industries.  They all have their special labels and all show off their winning medals for whatever competition they’ve entered in previous years.  Although who’s to say they’ll produce award winning bottles this year.

Grapes almost ready for picking south of Mainz

At the city of Worms we stopped at the grocery store to pick up dinner supplies.  We had wanted to stay in the campground just across the river and then go visit the city the next day.  It appeared to have a very nice cathedral and one heck of a tower gate over the bridge. 

However, the campground, turned out to be just a dumpy fish camp filled with mosquitoes and muddy sites.  We couldn't even see where there was a check-in facility or bathrooms.  It would figure that a city named Worms would not have a particularly great campground.

The huge bridge gate in Worms.

So we hustled on to Mannheim where there were supposedly 2 more campgrounds. 

Arriving in Mannheim from the north is one very disappointing experience.  It is one huge, industrial city and the north approach goes through the worst of it.  It’s just one long smokestack filled road into town.  Once in the city it’s not so bad.

We hit the Neckar river and headed upstream to check out the first campground.  This turned out to be just another dumpy place.  What was particularly worrisome was that it was right on the bike path with absolutely zero security right in this big city.  No thanks.

It was getting dark and we now had to hurry back the way we came to try the second campground.  This one was in the middle of a big park.  The tall trees made it so dark we had to stop and put on our lights.  Slowly rolling this dark, damp road we finally came to the campground.  It wasn’t a whole lot better than the others, but at least it was away from the city and behind a fence.  We went to bed just hoping the campgrounds further up river would improve.


We’re at the wasserturm in Mannheim


Once we got into Mannheim the following morning, when we weren’t rushed and it wasn’t getting dark, we found the city to not be quite so bad.  The center part of the city is laid out in a series of alphabetical blocks in a very regular rectangular pattern.  Apparently Washington DC was laid out in a copy cat mode.

Being an industrial powerhouse, Mannheim was a main target for allied bombing.  Consequently most of the buildings are post W.W.II design or reconstructed to look like their old versions.  A few of the nice old style buildings are the water tower, rathaus, and palace.  Almost everything else seems to be new.

One thing we really liked were the pretzel stands.  On the main walking street you can get 3 big pretzels for just 1€.  The stand owners were cleaning up.  While we ate 2 of our 3 we saw at least 9 more people stop for the same deal.  Now there's a person with good business savvy.

After a quick cruise around the city we continued on to the very cute and touristy town of Speyer.


Cute town of Speyer


In addition to being about as cute as can be it is also home to an enormous Romanesque church. Just looking at this church on the outside you immediately think it could easily belong in Italy.  It has that Italian striped pink and white stone construction we saw many times.


The huge Romanesque cathedral at Speyer


Inside the church has 3 vaulted naves all of which are huge.  You can see why when confronted with such a big church the peasants must have been completely subdued with awe.  This church now attracts tourists by the thousands.


Inside the huge cathedral in Speyer, just a side aisle.


Not too long after leaving Speyer we entered France for the first time.  We were headed to the town of Lauterbourg where there is a very nice municipal campground.  One thing we’ve found in France that really is quite rare in the rest of Europe are publicly owned campgrounds.  Many French towns and cities have city owned campgrounds.  Quality varies a lot and they tend to be open only for a very short season.  But the prices are extremely reasonable.  Lauterbourg was no exception.  We decided to stay for 2 nights.


September 12 was an absolutely gorgeous Sunday.  So rather than ride on, we decided to take an unloaded loop through Karlsruhe. 

It was a perfect day for bike riding and we’re convinced the entire city of Karlsruhe had the same idea.  As we headed to the ferry we found ourselves beating against a huge crowd of bikers headed the other way.  The little ferry boat was packed with bikers.  They’d even opened a temporary biergarten near the ferry landing just for this Sunday, complete with brass band.  What a day to be a biker.

It was about a 25 km ride up to Karlsruhe where we promptly headed to the train station for lunch.  Here, for the first time this summer, we encountered the most nasty person.  We stopped into the Subway sandwich shop to try to buy a couple of 6 inch subs.  The woman at the counter was so absolutely hostile we wound up leaving and buying a sandwich elsewhere.  It just seems every summer in Europe we’ll run across one person like that.

After lunch we rolled on over to the local shloss (palace) for a cruise around the gardens.  Every one from Karlsruhe who was not on the bike path was in the park around the palace.  They were out enjoying what was probably one of the last good summerish weekend days.  Fall is coming all too soon.

In front of the Schloß at Karlsruhe


We headed back to camp ready to make dinner.  As we neared, dark clouds started rolling in from the west.  We weren’t too concerned.  After all we’d checked the web site and it had said the rain wouldn’t start until around midnight.  We had plenty of time.  Or so we thought.

As we cooked dinner, the clouds got blacker and blacker.  There was thunder and lightning.  Then the wind picked up.  We now knew for certain that was off by about 5 hours.  We scrambled to toss things under the rain fly, pack up the cook gear and stash it in the campground kitchen, get the bikes under cover.  We didn’t quite make it when the skies let loose and it poured buckets.  Well, so much for a leisurely dinner.

After a very rainy night we woke to clear blue sky.  Once again we had to lay everything out to dry after the torrential downpour of the previous night.  Wouldn’t it be so nice if it would just rain at night for the rest of September and October?  Or how about not rain at all.

Our first stop was a supermarket in the town of Lauterbourg.  Caryl got out her French, dusted off the rust, and managed to ask for directions and understand the answer.  After not using French for 4 years, it’ll take some using to get back into the language.  Use it or lose it. 

Considering that Lauterbourg isn’t listed as a stop on the Rhine radweg map, it really is one darn cute town.  Flowers bedeck everything and the buildings are just picture perfect.  In fact, we found all the towns we rode through this morning to be quite cute.  

Over the centuries this area of France has bounced back and forth between nations, not necessarily Germany either.  So there is a lot of Germanic influence as we can tell by the clean neat towns and beautifully maintained gardens.  Southern France isn’t anywhere so tidy.

Crossing back over to Germany we took a short detour over to the town of Rastatt.  Here there is another one of those huge Baroque palaces with lovely rear gardens.  This one is pink, very very pink, with Greek style nude statues on top of the surrounding walls.

At the very pink palace at Rastatt 

If you think about it, these huge palaces really were just very large and grand government offices.  In each you would have not just the living quarters for the nobility and their family.  But you would also have living quarters for all the staff whose job it was to keep government running.  Really not much different than the White House today.  It’s just that there were so many lords and so many of these palaces. So if you look at it from that perspective, the palace really does look just like a government building of today.

We stopped for the night in a very nice 5 star campground.  Their rates had just dropped to the lowest season, so it wasn’t too outrageous.  This was definitely the nicest campground we’d been in for quite some time.  We were just one day’s ride short of Strasbourg where we’d intersect with our 2006 route.

Section 3

Strasbourg to Freiburg

Painting on the wall of a 1600s apotheke in Offenburg

September 14 to 18

We had just a short ride to get to the German town of Kehl.  It’s located right across the river from the French city of Strasbourg, another of those cities that’s been back and forth between Germany and France.  Our first order of business was to take care of chores, in particular laundry.  When you carry just a few sets of clothes and you’re getting sweaty every day it seems laundry is a constant affair.

We didn’t get into Strasbourg itself until the next day.  This time rather than try to visit every museum we could in just a few hours we elected to rent the audio walking tour.  It was actually very interesting and took us just about the whole 3 hours allotted, of course that was with us sharing the one device.

Along the canal in Little France, Strasbourg

Strasbourg was originally a Roman settlement.  Their main fort was located just about where the beautiful Cathedral Notre Dame now sits.  I imagine at that time this area of the Rhine and Ill river junction was mostly one large swamp.  Both rivers flowed through open flat lands with big curves, lots of branches, and many oxbow lakes.  The Romans likely picked the highest ground they could find to establish their original fort.  After that they dug, built up, and rechanneled the river making a more substantial area of high ground.

Strasbourg has really only been a part of France since W.W.II.  Before that it was part of Germany and even before it was German it was an independent free city.  Interestingly since it was a free city the citizens had to be self sufficient when it came to defense.  No neighboring lord was going to come to the rescue.  So many of the old houses have attics that are ventilated for food storage just in case of a siege.

Strasbourg’s main claim to fame is its magnificent cathedral.  This incredible French Gothic creation was begun in the 10th century and the last additions put on in the 18th century.  It was 600 years in the making.  Even still, it has only one tower which makes it look like it’s still not finished.  Why not add another tower making it symmetrical?  After all in 600 years it’ll be considered just another round of additions in a continually changing building.

The Notre Dame in Strasbourg

This cathedral is one of those that makes you want to look up.  Every line in the structure stretches vertically higher and higher.  It’s Gothic at its best.

The exterior is embellished with all sorts of stone carved creatures and figures.  From the curving triple line of figures above each entry door to the miscellaneous placed gargoyle, it’s a cacophony of figures everywhere.  In 2006 we climbed up the tower.  Along the way we were amazed to see these stone creatures placed in the oddest locations.  Only a person climbing the tower would ever see them.  So why bother?  Maybe it was just a joke from the stone mason.

As with most gothic structures, the inside is remarkably plain.  It has the tall columns that grow into the stone branched ribbing of the vaulted ceiling.  There are no extra creatures to be found here.  The main focal point of decoration is the beautiful organ case.

In the back corner of the cathedral is the amazing astronomical clock.  This clock is one of the earliest automatic clocks in the world.  It has a complex set of gears that compute the calendar date as well as another set that compute the holy days.  It’s got 7 Roman chariots representing each day, it has a little cherub that turns an hour glass every 15 minutes while another rings a bell.  There is a gold globe that shows the current phase of the moon as well as the current zodiac month.  This is just a few of its features.  There is so much more.

The incredible astronomical clock at Strasbourg

Next to the clock is the pillar of angels.  It’s a floor to ceiling pillar with 3 levels of angels, four per level.  What we found particularly interesting was the graffiti.  Look carefully and you can see several dates etched in the stone, most come from the mid 1600s.  Just imagine 400 year old graffiti.


Graffiti on the angels column dating from the 1600s

Around the rest of Strasbourg old town you find an interesting combination of German and French style architecture along with many old half timbered houses.  On our walking tour we were surprised to learn that those half timber houses can be disassembled and moved easily.  A carpenter cuts the wood, makes the pins, and gives each a number.  The homeowner then assembles the pieces and fills between with either brick in the city or other material in the country.  Since the house could be moved it was considered personal property, not real estate.  So when you bought a lot with a house, you’d better be sure the house stays.

The next morning was a bit chilly and cloudy.  But thankfully it was not raining.  So we were able to pack up a reasonably dry tent for a change.  We rambled on down the road and took the short detour to the town of Offenburg.

Pretty streets of Offenburg

Offenburg is another cute town with a pleasant walking mall lined by We were hoping to get a peak into the churches, but they were all locked.  Other than being a cute town, there wasn’t much else to see.  It’s sort of like visiting a small town in the Midwest US, cute but not of great tourist interest.

So we soon returned to the Rhine bank to continue our upstream journey. Opposite Rhinau, France we crossed on the free ferry so we could get to the nearby campground.

One thing we were discovering is that French campgrounds seem to be less expensive than German.  Correspondingly, French campground toilet facilities often aren’t nearly as nice as German.  It’s a hit or miss situation.  We’ll try staying in France more for the cheaper prices, but we hope we can avoid the worst of them. 

Since we had crossed to the French side of the river we decided to stay on this side for the day.  Sometimes it’s just nice to ride in a different country for a while.  We’d been in Germany for a long time.  Although France doesn’t have nearly the network of bike paths that Germany has.  They are improving, though.

Also, the French supermarkets are absolutely magnificent.  There’s almost no where in the world where we can find supermarkets that can even come close in comparison.  You just have to visit one of their hypermarché to understand.  Spend a little time in their cheese department and you’ll know what we mean.

We cruised along country roads with occasional runs along the Canal du Rhône au Rhin.  In this northern area this is an old canal that connected the Rhône with the Rhin.  This old canal has been replaced by a much larger one that intersects the Rhin near Basel.  It is now only used by pleasure boats.

Along the old Rhône au Rhin canal in France

The Rhine river valley between Mainz and Basel has a rather unusual geologic history.  Some 15 odd million years ago the Rhine actually flowed into the Danube.  Uplift caused it to be redirected to the north sea.  In the meantime a fault line developed where the valley now runs.  On either side of the fault the land is being shoved upward creating the Jura mountains to the west and the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) to the east.  Even though the fault is quiet it is considered still active by geologists.

Until very recently the Rhine was one very squiggly river.  Sometime in the 1700s a fellow named Tulla came up with the brilliant idea of taking a bunch of the curves out.  It would greatly speed navigation by shortening the river between Strasbourg and Basel by 18 1/2 miles.  Quite an accomplishment.

The only problem was, once it was done the water flowed so much faster it caused too much erosion and the boats couldn’t fight the current upstream.  Good idea, bad result.  In recent decades they’ve built a big canal that parallels the river.  It’s used for electricity generation plus barge traffic.  There’s much less water left to flow in the original redirected Rhine bed so the erosion has been reduced. This canal sees some 60 to 80 large barges per day and is free to use.  Even still the Rhine will on occasion flood.  Once again Mother Nature always wins.

We arrived at Neuf Brisach fairly early having the intention of setting up camp and then visiting the town.  This is one of Vauban’s fort designs and it would be an interesting place to see.  Unfortunately the campground was closed for the season.  So we went over to the French L’Ile du Rhin to spend the night.  Too bad.  We would have liked to spend time exploring the old defensive works.

We started the next morning with a hot breakfast in McDonalds.  Usually we just have cold waffles or muffins and bananas.  It was starting to get very boring.  But we just didn’t feel like pulling out the stove to cook up eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, or anything else.  So McDs would have to suffice.  We are really starting to look forward to breakfast at our favorite coffee shop back in Bakersfield.

Then we wandered around the town of Breisach in Germany.  Because of several islands in the Rhine, Breisach and it’s companion town Neuf-Brisach have been major crossroad towns since Roman times.  It was possible to build bridges across the Rhine using the two islands as stepping stones.  In fact until just recent times this spot had the only bridge between Strasbourg and Basel.

An unusual bull statue found outside the church in Breisach

In Vauban’s time both sides of the river were owned by France.  So he designed defensive works to protect their interest.  Neuf-Brisach was part of this work.  Eventually France had to give up the east bank and today Breisach is part of Germany.  

When you wander around the town it’s becomes very apparent as to why this one spot was so important.  It’s just about the only high spot on the riverbank for miles around.  The original untamed Rhine would have been a mess of small tributaries that would have the audacity to flood on a regular basis.  Consequently almost no towns were situated near the river.  There were just small farms.  This one high spot where Breisach now stands was the only exception.

After our walk around town we headed on up to the city of Freiburg.  The approach to the center part of the city goes along a very channeled and straight river.  Every 50 meters or so there is a small manmade water drop of about 1 to 2 feet.  These are absolutely regularly spaced rapids in an absolutely straight river bed.  There’s nothing natural about this river and it’s not even a main tributary.  There’s one thing you begin to see in Europe, there’s very little untamed nature left.  There's no such thing as a "wild and scenic" river such as we have.

We found our way to the campground closest to the old town district.  Upon arriving we were surprised to see that it was very crowded.  We’d become used to having the tenting areas practically to ourselves.  It was also a very expensive campground.  So since we’d seen Freiburg back in 2006 we decided to just take a stroll around town and then head out in the morning. 

Freiburg is an incredibly beautiful town, but it’s also very busy.  The old town streets are jammed with people all day long and well into the night.  It’s a college town, so that means a lot of students running around. 

The lovely Gothic cathedral at Freiburg

The central part of old town is accessed through several beautiful cock towers.  They’ve all been meticulously maintained.  One even houses the downtown McDonalds restaurant.  We do have to wonder how they managed to get that particular piece of real estate.

The streets are lined with old buildings from many different centuries and styles.  Look closely at the cobbled streets and you’ll see symbols in the stones representing the particular trade practiced in that building.  Although in many cases the original shop has closed and some new unrelated enterprise moved in making the stone symbol obsolete.

Running along the streets are these small canals with flowing water.  In Medieval times these little drainage ditches were used basically as open sewers.  Imagine the stench back then.  Now they run with clean water.  In summer you can dabble hot tired feet in the cool soothing waters.  It’s said that if you do this either you’ll return to Freiburg someday or you’ll marry someone from Freiburg, I forget which.

The centerpiece of the city is its cathedral.  This is another amazing Gothic masterpiece.  As you enter this structure you pass under a portal of carved figures that still carry their original paints.  It’s set in so deep that it’s been protected from the washing effects of rain all these years.  It’s the only fully painted church portal that we’ve ever seen.  It’s incredible how lively it looks with all the colors.

Painted figures in the portal of Freiburg’s cathedral

Unfortunately church services were in session so we couldn’t wander the interior nor could we climb the tower for the view.  So maybe we’ll have to stick our toes in the drainage channels to make sure we return someday.

Section 4

Freiburg to Basel

The gourd festival at Hansen

September 19 to September 21

We left Freiburg the same way we entered, riding down that long straight route along the very channeled river.  Then we worked our way to Rhein radweg. 

The small town of Hansen was having a gourd festival when we went by.  There were big white tents set up where everyone was chowing down, probably on various gourd dishes.  Most impressive were the larger than life figures all made from gourds.  There was an alligator, polar bear, igloo, several penguins, turtles, cows, and a wagon with a man and woman all made from gourds and pumpkins.  Not to mention the rows and rows of gourds used just to decorate the place.  Now that’s a whole lot of gourd creativity.

At the Maison d’Energie in France

After passing over the dam at Fessenheim we came to the Maison d’Energie, a free museum sponsored by the main French energy co. EDF. We had a nice long chat with the museum host and learned several interesting facts.  So here are a few:

80% of France’s energy is from nuclear reactors

1% wind, solar, and biomass

The rest is hydroelectric and fossil fuel plants

France originally leased one nuclear power plant design from Westinghouse and then made multiple copies of exactly the same thing resulting in cheap construction costs.

96% of their nuclear waste is low grade consisting of such things as rubble, tools, clothes and other stuff that’s just been exposed.  This degrades to safe levels in 1 to 300 years. 

4% of the waste is high grade such as spent fuel.  Some is recycled.  The rest stored in deep tunnels that are supposed to be isolated from ground water sources.  This will take thousands of years to degrade. 

Why do they use nuclear?  France doesn’t have much in the way of fossil fuel resources and renewable sources just aren’t sufficient to provide for all their needs.  For example, 11 windmills can generate 20 mw power when there’s wind.  One nuclear reactor generates 1300 to 1600 mw 24 hours/day.  In this respect the French are far smarter than the US or other countries.  They've realized that current solar and wind technologies will never be able to meet their energy needs. 

For our last day getting to Basel we were riding off and on along the old canal.  In this area the canal has been blockaded and is no longer in use.  Several of the old locks remain and as an unusual experiment they’ve taken a couple and installed a small hydroelectric power plant.  It might be enough to power a couple of houses.  It’s a token effort at best.

We found the canoe club camping ground just about at the foot of the brand new bridge connecting France directly with Germany.  Across the bridge is an enormous grocery store that folks from both France and Switzerland make daily trips to visit.  It couldn’t be any more convenient.  And at about 10 €/night we couldn’t dream of finding any cheaper accommodations so close to Basel.





September 4 - Train to Koblenz, 16.04 km

September 5 - Rhine radweg to Bacharach, 63.54 km

September 6 - Rhine radweg to Rudesheim, dirt riverside trail to Mainz, 52.29 km

September 9 - Rhein radweg west bank to Worms, east bank to Mannheim, 104.33 km

September 10 - Rhein radweg west bank to Speyer, 51.60 km

September 11 - Rhein radweg west bank to Lauterbourg in France, 79.67 km

September 12 - Loop tour across on ferry, to Karlsruhe, across to Wörth, return to Lauterbourg, 59.83 km

September 13 - Rhine radweg to Munchhausen, Route D248 in France thru Seltz and Beinheim.  Rastatt cycle route thru Wintersdorf to Rastatt, to Windersdorf.  Rhein radweg to Stollhofen, 57 km

September 14 - Rhein radweg to Kehl, 39.75 km

September 16 - Rhine radweg to Altenheim.  Side trip thru Schutterwald, Offenurg, Neuried, Ichenheim.  Rhein radweg to ferry to Rhinau 63.34 km

September 17 - Rhein radweg in France thru Diebolsheim, Mackolsheim, Kunheim, to Neuf Brisach, 66.28 km

September 18 - Side route to Freiburg thru Breisach, Hansen an der Möhlin, Munzingen, Tiegen, Opfingen, 39.66 km

September 19 - Back thru Opfingen, Tiegen, Munzingen, Hansen an der Möhlin, and Hartheim.  Across the Rhine thru Fessenheim, Blodelsheim, Rumersheim-lé-haut, to Bantzenheim.  59.81 km

September 20 - Rhein radweg French bank thru Ottmarsheim, Hombourg, Kembs, to Huningue, 31.73 km



September 4: Campingplatz Moselbogen in Koblenz-Güls (13.00 €/night)

September 5: Campingplats Sonnenstrand in Bacharach(13.00 €/night)

September 6, 7, 8: Campimgplatz Mainz (12.00 €/night)

September 9: Camping at Mannheim (14.50 €/night)

September 10: Camping at Speyer (17.00 €/night)

September 13: Freizeitcenter Oberrhein in Rheinmünster (17.50 €/night)

September 14, 15: DCC Campingpark Kehl (13.50 €/night + .50 €/shower)

September 18: Hirzberg Camping in Freiburg(18.10 €/night)


September 11, 12: La Mouette Municipal camping in Lauterbourg (11.50 €/night)

September 16: Camping Ferme Tuilerie in Rhinau (10.50 €/night)

September 17: Camping Il du Rhin in Neuf Brisach (15 €/night)

September 19: Camping Behe in Bantzenheim (10.00 €/night)

September 20: Camping “Au Petit Port” Huningue (9.30 €/night)




Lonely Planet Greece 2010

Bike Line Radkarte Rhein Radweg 2


Copyright © 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.



We'd like to thank my father, Charles Johnson, whose diligent mail forwarding and other logistical support make this journey far easier than it could be otherwise.


Wendy Strutin Riedy for archiving the newsletters on her WWW site,

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