Autumnal Vosges  

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Port-sur-Saone to Epinal (Cruise runs Saturday to Friday)

Highlights: Epinal's Imagerie - The Canal des Vosges - Intensely picturesque rural route - Autumnal woodland scenery - Great cycling or walking opportunities

The stunningly located 'La Manufacture' ina sleepy corner of the VosgesThe colours of Vosges Autumn You'll be joining Barge Nilaya on a Saturday in the pleasant and thriving town of Port-sur-Saone where it's definitely worth checking out the 18th Century St. Etienne church. Because we're mooring in remote locations for much of the week, I suggest you take the opportunity to dine ashore on your first night, We can enjoy my 'welcome aboard dinner' later in the week. 

Navigating the Canal des Vosges 'over the top' takes Barge Nilaya through the watershed dividing north and southern France. Water from here flows to either the North or Mediterranean Sea. It's an intensely rural route passing through extremely picturesque, densely wooded countryside and for the most part, small villages. We'll be mooring in wonderfully quiet locations to soak up the wonders of nature and weather and temperatures permitting, providing excellent opportunities to BBQ, dine al fresco and explore new locales by bike or on foot. Much of the route shadows the River Coney and on occasions Barge Nilaya follows narrow steeply sided cuttings barely wide enough for two boats to pass. 

Barge Nilaya cruising on the Canal des Vosges near EpinalAfter an early start, Sunday's a full days cruising through to the agricultural village of Ormoy. 'La Petite Saone' offers the broad pastureland and meadow which will be in major contrast to the the wonderful autumnal woodland scenery we'll encounter between Corre and Epinal. During the day we pass by the ruined chateau of Conflandey sitting overgrown on an island in the middle of the river. Ligne de Partage des EauxLeaving Ormoy on Monday morning we start our steady climb through what should be a spectacular Vosges. The trees should be shedding leaves and changing colour and tonight we moor in Fontenoy-le-Chateau. The once fortified Fontenoy is a delightful little spot and the village and church are definitely worthy of exploration. 

Four kilometres cycle along the towpath from Fontenoy is the fascinating industrial village of La Manufacture nestling in its sleepy valley setting. It started life as a tinplate factory in the 18th century reaching a peak production of 5000 tonnes a year. The owners grand home and church are surrounded by the manufacturing buildings constructed in the 1700's. It worthy of the effort to enjoy a wander around its park like setting. Tuesday night's mooring is 'wild' location where we'll self cater aboard or BBQ on the canal side if it's warm enough. A 10km return cycle ride could take you to the Roman founded spa town of Bain-le-Bains but alternatively why not enjoy a glass of wine and soak up the natural surroundings. This area is rich with deer and wild boar. You never know, we might be lucky enough to see some. 

The Port d'EpinalWednesday's mooring is again miles from anywhere, high in the Vosges. After crossing the summit pound we quickly find ourselves working Barge Nilaya down a flight of fourteen locks known as the Montee-de-Golbey, eventually following the tranquil Epinal branch of the Canal des Vosges into the park like setting of the Port d'Epinal. Today's route, like much of this weeks cruising offers fantastic opportunities to cycle or walk alongside Barge Nilaya. In fact today, it's all downhill! You could probably coast most of the way. Now that's my kind of cycling! 

The Village of OrmoyEpinal, 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. The town is surrounded by forests that open up endless possibilities for walking, cycling and off road mountain biking. Epinal's also a great place to eat out. and I suggest you do just that. You might fancy splurging at the Michelin rated 'Relais des Ducs de Lorraine' or at any one of a number of fine restaurants in town. 'Le Capitainerie' next to our mooring is excellent, but then I'd have to say that wouldn't I. 

You are due to leave Barge Nilaya after breakfast on Friday morning. The journey to Port-sur-Saone from Paris (via Vesoul) takes around five hours and Epinal to Paris as little as 2 hours 15 minutes. If arriving by car, the rail journey back to Port-sur-Saone takes about two hours from Epinal. 

 

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.