Voyage through the Vosges
|Epinal to Corre|
Highlights: Epinal's Imagerie - The Canal des Vosges - Intensely picturesque rural route - Wonderful wooded scenery - Great cycling or walking opportunities
You'll join Barge Nilaya in the gorgeous park like setting of the Port d'Epinal. Saturday is market day in Epinal, so if you'd like to arrive earlier, you are welcome to drop off your bags at Barge Nilaya before walking into town. 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.
The city 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. Because we are mooring in remote locations for much of the week, I suggest you take the opportunity to dine ashore on your first night, possibly splurging at the Michelin rated 'Relais des Ducs de Lorraine' or any one of a number of excellent restaurants in town. We can enjoy my 'welcome aboard dinner' later in the week.
Our cruise begins on Sunday morning by following the tranquil Epinal branch of the Canal des Vosges. We soon find ourselves working Barge Nilaya through a flight of fourteen locks known as the Montee-de-Golbey. Tonight we'll be mooring miles from anywhere, high in the Vosges. Today's route, like much of this weeks cruising offers fantastic opportunities to cycle or walk alongside Barge Nilaya. In fact, from day two, it's all downhill! You could probably coast the whole way. Now that's my kind of cycling!
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 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. The area is rich with deer and wild boar. You never know, we might be lucky enough to see some?
Monday night's mooring is another super 'wild' spot where we'll self cater aboard or BBQ on the canal side. We might find ourselves in the company of other boats, and impromptu parties are not uncommon! A 10km return cycle could take you to the Roman founded spa town of Bain-le-Bains. Alternatively, enjoy a glass of wine and soak up the natural surroundings.
On Tuesday we encounter 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. Unfortunately, due to lack of suitable moorings, we'll have to cruise by. Should you wish to wander round its parkland setting, you can return by bike later cycling the four kilometres back along the towpath from our mooring in Fontenoy-le-Chateau. The once fortified Fontenoy is another delightful little spot set in the valley and the village and church are definitely worthy of exploration. The place has, I understand, a population that's 30% Dutch.
After an early start, Wednesday's a full days cruising through to a wild mooring pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It's a lovely silent spot and great place for a bbq. There's some fantastic opportunities to get out on the barges bikes here.
Another full days rural cruising brings us to the canals junction with the Petite Saone river. Corre is an interesting little place with a great little store selling some amazing regional produce.
This morning you are due to depart Nilaya after breakfast. I'll drive you to the nearest mainline station which is in the nearby town of Vesoul.
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.