Nancy to Saverne
Michel and Francine prepared a great breakfast in the morning. They insisted that I should visit Stanislas Square before leaving Nancy so I headed that way with the patches of blue sky decreasing. At the square I had time to take a picture before the gathering clouds deposited their watery cargo. I managed to finally purchase a sticker from France and with that found the canal and headed south along it for a while.
Eventually, I had to head east again over small roads and farm tracks winding my way to Luneville where I found a supermarket to get some supplies. On the other side of the autoroute I headed on to Blamont. It would have been easier to go directly east from Nancy to Sarrebourg but Stevens had got lost on the wrong road which meant my life was harder too. At this point I saw why his route headed in a big sweeping loop north as a large hill sat between here and Strasbourg.
Extra miles of country lanes took me to Sarrebourg where I asked the Tourist Information office how to get to Phalsbourg by bike; the autoroute was the only direct way. They pointed me to my old friend the Marne and Rhine canal which emerged from a tunnel nearby and proved to be very pleasant riding. It took me into Alsace and to the picturesque village of Lutzelbourg nestled in the valley around the canal. It was difficult to find a view that wasn't pleasing in this little village. The day was lovely. The only thing still left to do today was to work out where I was staying tonight.
At that moment, I had a Twitter message from an astronomer friend who had just spotted that I was cycling thanks to another friend in Germany. It just happens that both of them are named Thomas (as is the person whose route I'm following). Thomas said I should pop in if my route happened to go by Saverne. As it happened, I was only about 10 km away! What a perfect coincidence.
First though, I had to go up a long gentle hill out of the valley to the town of Phalsbourg to check it off on my list of places Stevens went to. I only cycled to the edge of the town then decided to go back down to Lutzelbourg and follow the pleasant canal to Saverne rather than go along the busy road. I wasn't going to let traffic spoil this wonderful afternoon.
In Saverne I met Thomas, his wife, his delightful daughter Morgane, and his brother Michel. It turned out Michel was on the national team for 100 km cycling and he asked if he could accompany me the next day. Having a local guide and cycling companion sounded brilliant. We all had pizza in the town and we chatted until late. A huge thank you to Thomas and his family for being so welcoming at such short notice.