The river with 3 names! Is it Mosel, Moselle or Musel?
Well, that depends on where you are on the river as it forms a natural border with three countries we visit: Germany, France, and Luxembourg. It’s a bike and barge dream-come-true. Paved bike paths, well-marked signage and easy cycling along the Rhine’s largest tributary. Medieval market squares, half-timbered villages, gothic cathedrals and castle ruins. Wunderbar and Fantastique are the words to know!
We follow the breadcrumbs of history. The Romans “civilized” this “barbaric” region bringing their culture and the first grapevines. Little did they know at the time of Julius Cesar that this river valley would blossom into a Riesling drinkers’ paradise. On both sides of the river, the precisely-tended vineyards hug the steep slopes. We promise you the ride of a lifetime with lots of sampling along the way.
The lead city on this trip is Trier. Never heard of it? You’re not the only one. It’s hey-day was around 2nd century AD. Known as Roma Segunda at the time, Trier was an Imperial Roman city. Kind of a big deal when Constantine the Great ruled from here. You will see the remnants of this glorious past in Germany’s oldest cathedral, amphitheater, the emperor’s throne hall and famous “black gate,” the blackened remains of the ancient city wall.
Onto Luxembourg, the only Grand Duchy in Europe. It’s strategic position between two super powers made it a hotly contested area to control over the ages. If you know a little French and German, you’ll understand their mother tongue—a rich soup of both languages in one pot.
And then France. You feel a difference the minute you cross the border into the Lorraine region, birthplace of French military heroine Joan of Arc. And, Ooh-la-la the food! Those wonderful breads, Quiche Lorraine, delicate Madaleine cookies and golden Mirabelle plums you’ll find in jams, tarts and a sweet liqueur—the nectar of Gods. We finish in Metz, one of the last Roman city’s to fall to Atilla the Hun and ancestral home of the Merovingian Dynasty. Metz has great architecture from the centuries and a Gothic cathedral that took 300 years to build.Read more
Join the barge and discover Cochem, a bustling and characteristic Mosel town with steep wine-clad mountains, wooded hills, an impressive castle and a picturesque square with beautiful timber-framed houses and cafes. You can visit the castle or have a glass of local wine—or both!
In the early morning, while you are having breakfast, the IRIS sails to the village known as the Sleeping Beauty on the Mosel. It’s a precious medieval village next to our mooring pier. You can’t imagine a prettier place. Beilstein has been the backdrop for many German films. You will have the chance to see the venerated and rare relic the Black Madonna in the chapel of the Carmelite Monastery overlooking the valley. Superb photo ops here. After the visit, our bike journey follows the river upstream passing the steepest vineyards in the world to arrive in Zell, a beautiful hamlet where the river slices through slate mountains in dramatic oxbows and S turns. Zeller Schwarze Katz (black cat) is a legendary Mosel Wine. Continuing onto Traben-Trarbach, this town features world-class Art Nouveau architecture that proves its great importance in international wine trade during the 19th century. From here we cruise to Bernkastel-Kues, the darling of the famed middle Mosel. This is Valhalla for Riesling aficionados. A good size village with great shopping, wine bars and ice cream. One of the prettiest town squares with timber-frame buildings dating back to the 1400s! The castle ruins on the hill are base-lit at night. An evening stroll along the river is a must…words can’t describe the feeling of Old Europe.
Bernkastel Railway Maare Mosel
This morning we leave the river and vineyards behind. We bus you UP to an agricultural region called the Eifel. (and yes, there is a connection to the famed Parisian tower) From here, it’s an exhilarating ride for the most part downhill along a rails-to-trails path. Amazing! It will be the ride of a lifetime for many—through German forests and former train tunnels, over bridges and around small lakes formed from volcano craters eons ago. After the last tunnel we have a break in a local little town were you will love to have an icecream on the terraces, well deserved! this day is the highlight of our biking-experiences.
Bernkastel - Trier
From Bernkastel, the valley opens up and vineyards expand as far as the eye can see. Today we cruise past the heavy-hitters in the wine world: Brauneberg, Piesport, Trittenheim. Piesport is beloved by the Brits for the “little golden droplets.” Trittenheim lies in a sharp hairpin turn on the river surrounded by mountains coated with grapes. The chapel in the vineyard is one of the most photographed on the river. Later we bike on to Trier, a lively university town, powerful Arch-diocese, and Imperial Residence of Constantine the Great. All roads lead to Rome as they say, but in this case our road leads to Trier, the 2nd Rome in the 3rd century. The history is fascinating. More than you’d expect on the sleepy Mosel. Great museums. Superb shopping. A gem of a city.
Trier - Saarburg
After vibrant Trier, our path leads us to a place that’s a throw-back in time. The name Saarburg means “fortress on the river Saar” to give you a hint of what to expect there. The ruins date back to the 10th century, a summer palace for the Archbishops of Trier—powerful men and power brokers in the Holy Roman Empire. We love Saarburg. There’s a natural, steep drop between the “upper and lower” towns, but they’re connect by a high waterfall. Town fathers back in the 1300s diverted a local river to run through the center so they’d have access to water to fight fires quickly and have continual energy to run their mills. All of this is well-preserved in the 17th-18th century homes that cling to the hillside. It’s medieval German engineering at its best.
Saarburg - Remich (LUXEMBOURG)
From Saarburg we pedal toward Luxembourg, the tiny nation about the size of Rhode Island. Don’t let size fool you, Luxembourg is an important finance center and EU administrative city. On the way to the Grand Duchy, we visit a wine cellar to taste the whites from the upper Mosel. The wines here are different than the middle Mosel styles. When the terroir (geology) changes, so too do the wines. We also take you to a hidden gem. It’s a great story of historic preservation…imagine you’re a farmer in 1852 and you’re tilling your field. Suddenly, these colorful square pieces start appearing in the plough sod. What that farmer soon discovered was pieces that belonged in a tiled mosaic floor—dating back 1,600 years! The tile floor which lies in its original place, was once the centerpiece in a palatial Roman villa. The scene (in 3 million individual tile pieces) reveals scenes from gladiator games in the amphitheater. It’s breathtaking and original.
Remich (L) - Metz (FRANCE)
Today we leave Germany and Luxembourg behind and look to France. For centuries, this territory has been German then French; German then French. You get the idea. We pass the fortress high up on the rocky outcrop, one of the palaces inhabited by the powerful Dukes of Lorraine. The route is lovely French countryside, riparian landscapes and tiny villages. We ride past wheat fields and pastures of white cows (charolais) praised for their strength as draft animals and excellent meat. Thionville was the center of the steel industry until the 1980s. That might sound modern and industrial, but the city is ancient. The historic center shows us the medieval ramparts, lovely gardens, old streets and St.Maximin basilica which houses one of the finest organs in the world. Thionville is also part of the infamous Maginot line, an enormous defense network of forts and bunkers built between World Wars against the Germans. It failed miserably—one of the worst military strategies ever conceived. After spending millions on it, the Germans simply marched around in their Blitzkrieg warfare style. We cruise by barge to Metz, another ancient city strategically situated on a Roman trading route. St.Etienne Cathedral is the 3rd largest gothic church in France with flying buttresses and Marc Chagall stained glass windows. Metz is full of stunning architecture, flowers and great cafes. You will fall in love!
Today we have to say Au Revoir!
Your guided tour ends after breakfast. You can leave your luggage on board untill lunchtime and go and enjoy some more of Metz, visit the Cathedral! And then: save travels!
One of the best: our comfort plus barge IRIS, sailing since 2005. Fully air-conditioned, lovely front sundeck, lounge and dining-area and selfservice Bar. Delicious 3 course dinners and packed lunches. Lots of options at Breakfast
ready to dock!
If you do not feel like cycling you are welcome to stay on board and have a privat cruise!
Perfect to enjoy a cold beer or glass of Pinot Gris from our self-serve Bar.
Your air-conditioned cabin has two comfortable beds and lots of storage (for such a small cabin!). Ensuite your private bathroom.
- 7 nights on board
- Bed linen and towels
- 6 x dinner on board
- Packed lunches for bike trips
- Coffee and tea on board
- Tour guide (from 18 guests 2 guides)
- Cabins cleaned daily
- Climate-controlled cabins
- Helmets, panniers and waterbottle
- Bustransfer for Trail to Rail Maare-Mosel
- Bike rental € 75,- per bike
- E-bike on availability, € 150,-
- Entrance fees for museums, monuments, etc.
- Travel and cancellation insurance
- Miscellaneous beverages and expenses on excursions.
- Gratuaties for Staff and Guides
E-bikes on request & availability € 150,- per bike