You'll join Barge Nilaya at her mooring right in the heart of the stunning city of Nancy at around four. It's a short walk or tram ride away from Place Stanislas, an architectural gem of a central square created in 1750 and recently fully restored by UNESCO as a breathtaking world heritage monument. Nancy's old town was founded in the 11th century but transformed in the 18th by Stanislas Leczinski, Duke of Lorraine. It's a masterpiece of 18th century town planning. There's lots to see and do in Nancy and you shouldn't miss seeing the historic museum of Lorraine while there. The opportunities to dine out are vast so its definitely your best course of action tonight. I'll save your welcome dinner for one of the nights when dining out is NOT an option. If you want to arrive in Nancy earlier in the day, you are most welcome to store your bags aboard Barge Nilaya.
During the course of this week Barge Nilaya cruises a variety of different scales of waterway. As we leave Nancy after breakfast, we'll pass through two swing bridges and industrial suburbs before breaking out onto the mighty Moselle River. It's possible that we'll encounter huge 1500 tonne scrap barges which are en route to the steel works at Neuves-Maisons, maybe even sharing one of the vast ecluses (locks) with them. We then cruise up a stretch of the Moselle overlooked by the impressive 12th century hilltop village of Liverdun below which, subject to one of the very limited spaces being available, I hope to moor and give you a chance to look around the village and its fortifications. After lunch we continue through to the City of Toul. After the huge locks encountered on the river, we enter the 'Canal de la Marne au Rhin' and the far more snug, 'Freycinet' sized locks that we'll encounter for the rest of the week. Entering the City, we actually pass under its defensive city walls before mooring in, or just outside the 'Port de France'. Toul is another location where we suggest guests dine ashore.
After a nine oclock start, we'll climb through 12 canal locks in very quick succession. One thing that becomes clear as we rise is the water! Unless we've had inordinate amounts of rain, the water at the summit is almost transparent and you can see huge fish right under Barge Nilaya. We'll stop for lunch on what we affectionately know as 'picnic island', before cruising through the 500 metre Foug tunnel. Tunnels are always exciting and this is no exception. At times Barge Nilaya's wheelhouse roof will come perilously close to the tunnel ceiling! Tonight, if we can't get on the small pontoon in Pagny, we'll moor up at a wild location on the towpath nearby. It's a great place for a barbeque or dinner on deck.
We branch off the 'Marne au Rhin' canal onto the beautiful, narrow and mostly rural 'Canal de la Meuse' this morning, passing through gorgeous tree lined stretches of meandering canal. We cruise past the town of Commercy which is famed throughout the world as home to the small sponge cakes known as Madeleines and eventually into St Mihiel and our stop for the night. Unfortunately amidst all that beauty lies a small unassuming monument on a ridge high above the valley stating that during the first world war between 1914 and 1918, 60,000 men died at this spot for every square metre of land that changed hands between France and Germany. Such a tragic past for what is now such a beautiful spot. With luck, I'll grab the car and take you on a visit to the Butte de Montsec. A huge American war memorial with one of the most amazing views in France. On the ay back we'll drop into some original WW1 trenches, complete with original barbed wire, that its possible to walk down in to. After this we'll return to Nilaya, enjoy an aperitif and let you head ashore for dinner in town.
Today, while making further progress toward Verdun, we'll cruise through to one of our favourite moorings in the sweet little village of Ambly sur Meuse. It's a stunning location and great spot to head out for a walk or bike ride. You might even spot the mayor out on his ride on lawn mower beautifying his village. Theres also an intriguing building which we'll set you the task of trying to guess what it did! We'll cook dinner aboard this evening.
Today, we reach our final destination and the City of Verdun. It's a place forever synonymous with the loss of about 1,000,000 lives in just one year during the carnage, tragedy and bloodbath that was the first world war. But today, as European city of peace, it's a cosmopolitan place with riverside bars, restaurants and throughout the summer months, a superb series of concerts right on the main quay. It's possible to visit all the main war monuments and memorials from Verdun, such as the trench of Bayonets, Ossuary at Douaumont, Citadel and villages that were simply never rebuilt after the war. Some 90 years on, it is still unsafe to stray from the well marked paths in the old battle area. The tourist information office have a guided tour that operates by bus, but during Barge Nilaya's recent visits, the commentary was only available in French. Theres a good choice of restaurants on the quay, so dinner will be ashore.
You'll be leaving Nilaya after a hearty breakfast. The rail journey from Paris to Nancy will take in the region of 90 minutes and return from Verdun to Paris via Meuse TGV, in the region of two and a half hours and requires a short bus or taxi transfer.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Unforeseen circumstances sometimes affect our cruising schedule. These can include, but are not limited to: illness, floods, weather, canal closures, canal maintenance, lack of moorings, bureaucracy, strikes, civil disturbance, acts of god, the engine, and whims and fancies of both skipper, guests and crew. All of these things might cause last minute changes to the above and cruise routes. Although rare, we reserve the right to alter any and all routes accordingly. Flexibility is the name of the game and any such changes cannot be considered grounds for cancellation of the cruise.