Renowned as one of the most picturesque rivers the world, the Moselle stretches for a languid 340 miles from the Vosges Mountains of France to flow into the Rhine in Germany. Various sections have become extremely popular with barge holiday operators, not just for the magnificent scenery encountered along the way, but also for the many historical attractions and, of course, the wine.
The Route of the Moselle
From its elevated source at Ballon d'Alsace, the river passes through the spectacularly beautiful and historically significant French landscape of Lorraine, before forming part of the border of Luxembourg and Germany. On its path it takes in countless small towns, Alpine villages and wine-growing regions. Some of the more industrialised sections of the Moselle Valley are also used for transporting goods on large cargo ships. The river joins the Rhine at Koblenz, as its longest tributary.
Since it was made entirely navigable in 1964, the river has become a very busy waterway, encompassing 14 locks and a dedicated shipping channel. As well as barge holiday operators, the traffic comprises large numbers of private vessels and commercial and cargo ships.
Attractions en Route
For those on a barge holiday, whatever section of the Moselle makes up the itinerary there are countless attractions to see from the water and on shore excursions. One of the most enchanting is Burg Eltz, a real-life fairytale castle set in its own lush forest. The medieval castle is immaculately preserved, having been in one family for more than 850 years. The interiors are bedecked with original tapestries, furnishings and artworks that have been curated with such attention and care they look like the centuries have simply passed them by. Set upon the peak of a huge craggy rock, Burg Eltz epitomises the concept of a fairytale castle.
For those passing through Trier (close to Luxembourg), exploring the Roman ruins of the oldest city in Germany is a must. Founded in 16 BC by the infamous Augustus, Trier was a vital trade and financial hub for the Roman Empire for more than four centuries. Today one can walk around its many archaeological attractions and take in sites like the Porta Nigra, the Hauptmarkt and the city's most iconic landmark, the magnificent UNESCO-listed Trierer Dom – the oldest cathedral in Germany. The city is also famous for a very different reason as the birthplace of philosopher Karl Marx.
It’s not for nothing that wine is one of the most popular themes for barge holiday itineraries in this region of Germany and Luxembourg. The Moselle Valley is renowned for some of the world's finest Rieslings, which make up around 60% of its total production. The region provides the perfect conditions for this famous grape, with records indicating that it has been grown there since 1435. The Riesling has a distinct colour and flavour that aficionados attribute to its high acidity, and it has the ability to age well up to 40 years.
For history, scenery and the opportunity to immerse yourself in one of the most acclaimed wine regions in the world, cruising along the beautiful River Moselle is invariably a most memorable and enjoyable experience for travellers of any age.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge holiday itineraries. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.