Veloroute Charles le Temerarire
This portion of the Moselle River Trail is known locally as the Veloroute Charles le Temerarire or the Charles Temaraire Bicycle Path. It is named after Duke Charles the Bold. I studied the history of Charles le Temeraire in hopes that he was some glorious French leader worthy of having a bike trail named after him. I was disappointed. He was quite a scoundrel. But I’ll let you form your own opinion about this dastardly duke. So let’s start our journey down the Moselle River Bike Path in the beautiful & historic French City of Metz.
History of Metz France
Of course you can bike this trail in any direction, but the vast majority of bicyclists will
start their Moselle River Trail in the absolutely gorgeous and historic French town of Metz. Metz is located in northeastern France in the state of Lorraine. It has been an important town for over 3,000 years. Here’s an abbreviated history of Metz by era:
- Celtic times – Metz was the capital of Celtic Mediotrius nearly 3,000 years ago.
- Roman times – The Romans renamed the city Divodorum Mediomatricorum. Eventually the name evolved into modern-day Metz. During this period, Metz was a more important city than Paris.
- Medieval years/middle ages – Metz was home to one of the most important Bishoprics in the Catholic church. This is why so many churches/cathedrals were built here.
- Reformation – … and then… The majority of the Metz population converted to protestantism. (out of the friar pan and into the fire)
- 19th & 20th centuries – Germany occupied Metz twice until American military forces liberated Metz in 1944 and return the Lorraine region to French dominion.
You may be only in Metz for the Moselle River Path (trail), but if you only see one thing in Metz, you should visit the Cathedral St. Etienne. It is gorgeous and has the largest expanse of stained glass in any one building in the world. Oh, what the heck, also visit the Museum La Cour d’Or, and the Center Pompidou-Metz and the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains and the Chapelle des Templers and bike the local bike paths in Metz and… Maybe you should just plan a few days in Metz before you start your trail
Bike Path from Metz to Thionville
This portion of the bike trail is known as the Veloroute de Charles de Temeraire. (from Metz to Aspach) As of 2015, this bicycle path is complete from Metz to Thionville. Therefore, you can now pedal all the way from Metz, France to the Rhine River in Germany. (and then ride some more on the Rhine River bike trails) The Charles le Temeraire Bike Pathi is very well signposted and, in general, quite easy to follow. However there is currently a very small section of the river trail that is closed. This section of trail is in Metz and may well be open by the time you begin your journey.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that trail detours are not as well marked as the actual trail. So if there are signs, follow them. But if not, just stay as close to the trail as possible and get back to it as soon as you can. It’s not too difficult. If there’s a detour, it will take you away from the river. So your goal is to head back toward the river as soon as possible. The current closed section of the trail is less than a quarter of a mile, so it isn’t a major setback, and you won’t miss much trail. Another tip for staying on the trail is to follow signs that either point toward Thionville or La Maxe. In fact, I assumed La Maxe meant “The Trail” or “The Way” or “The Route.” I was wrong. It’s just pointing toward a trailside town named La Maxe. Easy Peasy.
Skip the Bike Train and Take the Bike Trail
Up until recently, bicyclists were advised to skip the Metz to Thionville section of the trail and just take the regional train (Bikes aren’t allowed on this TGV route.) to Thionville. This made sense since no one wants to ride their bike on roads. (Sorry road bikers.) Plus, the train from Metz to Thionville is ridiculously inexpensive, somewhere in the $5 range. But now that the trail is done, the train is so 2014s. It’s a pretty decent slog from Metz to Perl, but with a great trail like the
Veloroute Charles le Temeraire, you’ll enjoy the ride.
Tips for Biking the Veloroute Charles le Temerarire
The bike path on this section of the Moselle River Trail is very nice, but often not very wide. You may need to use your bike bell when approaching groups of walkers or leisurely cyclists or … military platoons. That’s right… I said military platoons. This area is heavily used by the French military for field training, so you are likely to share the trail with a troop of dedicated but weary soldiers. You can’t help but feel sorry for these young recruits as they march in full uniform with absolutely huge packs and a rifle held, at the ready, in front of them. They are probably hot, tired and sweaty but, on the bright side, you are probably on the safest trail in the world. No thugs will be bothering you. It’s like you have your own private army to protect you. But make sure you alert these brave soldiers when passing them. All it takes is a little tinkle of your bike bell or a quick warning of “velo” to let them know a bicyclist is approaching them. Even though they are probably dog-tired, they will likely smile and greet you with a friendly French “bon jour.”