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 is 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 tomorrow night 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. Today we pass through two swing bridges and industrial suburbs of Nancy before breaking out of the city 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'll pass through one of these huge locks at Pompey, moments after joining the Moselle. Barge Nilaya cruises 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 for the night and give you a chance to look around the village and its fortifications. Tonight we'll enjoy dinner aboard.
Today we cruise a wide, heavily wooded stretch of the River Moselle with our destination being the City of Toul. We moor just off the Moselle on a branch canal. You'll have the opportunity to admire Toul's incredible defensive walls and moats laid out by Vauban in the eighteenth century plus take a look at the intricately detailed facade of the St. Etienne Cathedral built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Toul's another place where I suggest guests dine ashore and if you head in to town early, they quite often have a lightshow on the front of the cathedral.
Today, we continue back up the last navigable reaches of the Moselle River. At Neuves-Maisons we trade in the vast ecluses (locks) of the Moselle in favour of the snug 'Freycinet' sized locks which we'll encounter for the rest of the week. Crossing a short steelworks loading area from one of these monster locks built in the 1970's into a Freycinet sized one built a hundred years earlier clearly demonstrates the dramatic difference in scale a century makes. Right through to Thaon-les-Vosges, the ecluses have mostly been manually operated using age old mechanical technology to raise and lower the water level within. Slowly, these locks are being modernised and electrified so the eclusiers are gradually being phased out. Tonight we moor at either Richardmenil or a little further on. Tonight we'll prepare you a tasty home cooked dinner aboard.
Today's cruising is a tranquil tree lined section of canal and I plan to stop in either Charmes or the small village of Nomexy somewhat further on . Charmes has a pretty tragic history having suffered plague, famines, fires and war with great regularity. One of the most recent tragedies was committed by retreating Nazi's at the end of world war two, just 7 days before the town was liberated by the Americans, 160 inhabitants of the town were transported to the death camps never to return and that same night a terrible fire razed the town to the ground. I'll make sure that we're careful with the BBQ! Charmes has a couple of simple restaurants, so eating out is also a possibility. If we moor in Nomexy, I hope to take you on a visit to a subterranean fortress thats no longer there! Centurys ago there was a massive fortress here which became suck a pain in the neck to the local warlords, that during one truce or another, they agreed to knock it down. They did so and put all the bits of the upper castle into the lower parts and dungeons!. A while ago, a lady painstakingly started to empty out all these lower bits and so now its possible to vist those parts and fascinating it is!
Today we cruise more scenic waterways and after a short, slightly industrial stretch beyond Thaon, instead of continuing up the Montee de Golbey flight of locks and beginning a route that could end at the Mediterranean, we turn left entering a tranquil branch of the Canal des Vosges, eventually arriving in the park like setting of the Port d'Epinal. Epinal is a pleasant Vosges town offering good shopping, a wide selection of cafes, bars and restaurants together with museums and the world famous Imagerie d'Epinal. The Cite de l'Image museum has an outstanding collection of over 23,000 17th-20th century prints and woodcuts (print blocks) from all over France. Epinal's also a great place to eat out. You might fancy 'splurging' on your last night at the Michelin rated 'Relais des Ducs de Lorraine' or any one of a number of excellent restaurants in town. 'Le Capitainerie' right in the Port would also be an easy and excellent choice.
You are due to leave Barge Nilaya after breakfast on Friday. The rail journey from Epinal to Paris will take in the region of three hours and Paris to Nancy in the region of two 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.