Compiegne to Soissons
|(Cruise runs Sunday to Saturday)|
Highlights: The Jura City of Dole - Doubs River - Besancon's awesome citadel and fortifications - The Caves of Osselle - St-Jean-de-Losne, France's waterways capital
You'll be joining Barge Nilaya on a Sunday, more than likely tied up under the King's tower of Vauban's Citadel in Besancon. The capital of Franche-Comte is a wonderful City and great place to explore on foot. The Citadel is a 'must visit' and offers some truly remarkable views over the River Doubs below. Inside is a museum devoted to the French Resistance and the many Nazi atrocities of WWII.
Besancon's old town has lovely buildings, some ornately finished with decorative iron work dating back to the seventeenth century. If you love clocks and timepieces, then visits to the 'Musee du Temps' and astronomical clock near to St-Jean's Cathedral are a must. If you can, also visit the 'Arts and Technology Museum' which is one of the richest and oldest in France. The City hosts a yearly International Music festival which should be on while we are here. It might also mean we can catch a concert during the evening.
Besancon boasts some excellent restaurants. There are loads of choices to suit all budgets and I suggest you eat out while you have lots of opportunity and save my 'welcome aboard dinner' for tomorrow when we are moored in a rural location with none!
We depart on Monday morning, cruising below Besancon's amazing and much fought over fortress. We travel a gorgeous stretch of meandering canal and river replete with rocky cliffs and at one point, the remaining tower of the Chateau de Montferrand. Emerging from the rough hewn 'Tunnel of Thoraise' we pass the reassuring statue of the Virgin Mary before mooring up for the day on a bank side near the village of Montferrand-le-Chateau. It's a good rural spot for heading off for a walk or bike ride to any of the four villages in close proximity. Tonight I'll cook you your welcome dinner.
We'll leave early on Tuesday in order to reach our overnight stop as soon in the day as is possible. Tonight will be another 'wild' bank side mooring located a level five kilometre cycle or short taxi ride and as close as Barge Nilaya can get to the fabulous 'Grottes D'Osselle'. The caves were used as a hiding place during the French Revolution and their gorgeous formations and colours make it well worth the effort of getting there. Tonight's best plan is to either self cater aboard or have a BBQ on the canal bank.
One feature of Wednesday's voyage is that on occasions, nothing but long weirs separate our canal from the River Doubs below. Tonight, we'll moor in or near the village of Ranchot and dining ashore is a possibility at the canal side cafe named 'Au Rendezvous de la Marine'. Alternatively we can self cater aboard.
Thursday's departure will be late and leisurely because we have just two kilometres and one lock to go before I plan to stop for lunch at a 'Relais Routier'. 'Routier' are lunch stops for truckers and this particular restaurant happens to be located right next to a canal lock. Lunch in France is an institution and always between twelve and two. I've a strong feeling that if we aren't sat on a seat by twelve, we simply won't get fed! Every time I've driven my car through here the place is surrounded by trucks! The lock keeper's frame of mind in letting us moor outside his lock for a couple of hours will also be a determining factor. We'll give it a go anyway! One way or another we are in for a great lunch somewhere.
In the afternoon we'll cruise into Dole. This thriving and attractive city was home to Louis Pasteur and is a bustling place with narrow streets, good shopping, great eateries and outdoor cafes. There is plenty to see and do and we'll moor either in the harbour or just outside it under an avenue of plane trees. This lovely shady spot will be a blessing, particularly if the weather's hot.
Dining out is a great choice tonight and depending on if you've recovered from lunch, a restaurant I've heard glowing reports about is 'Les Templiers'. They apparently serve good hearty fare in the atmospheric setting of a 13th Century crypt. Just watch out for bones! Alternatively, Dole's Pizza boat is moored in the harbour and if excellent pizza from a wood fired oven takes your fancy, we could pick up a couple and bring them back to Barge Nilaya.
We leave Dole along the 'Canal du Rhone au Rhin' toward today's destination, the self proclaimed waterways capital of France, St-Jean-de-Losne. Lying near the junction of no less than six major French navigations, its a pleasant enough place with a very 'boaty' feel, lovely town quay, marina and boatyards. Having enjoyed a cold beer or two in the quayside bar, we might organise a BBQ on the quay or canal side or wander up to the Auberge de la Marine for a tasty but inexpensive meal.
You are due to leave Barge Nilaya after breakfast on Saturday. Getting to Paris from St-Jean involves either a 30 minute taxi ride to Dijon followed by direct 90 minutes TGV rail journey or shorter taxi ride and two and a half hour rail journey. Getting to Besancon from Paris involves a TGV via Dole and takes under three hours.
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.