Compiegne to Conflans Barge Cruise

Compiegne to Paris (Cruise runs Sunday to Saturday)

Highlights: Compiegne's Armistice Clearing - River Seine through Paris - Mooring under the Eiffel Tower - Canal St Martin and Bastille Tunnel

You'll be joining Barge Nilaya on Saturday afternoon in the pleasant town of Compiegne. Good shopping, dining and sightseeing opportunities await. Its 'Royal Chateau' was designed as a summer retreat for Louis XV and also became Napoleon III and his Empress Eugenie's favourite residence. You can visit the stately apartments luxurious bedrooms on a guided tour should you so desire. There is also an interesting motor museum in town and Compiegne's 16th century 'Hotel de Ville' (or town hall) is worthy of a look too. Joan of Arc was captured in Compiegne in 1430 and imprisoned in a cellar just a stones throw from our mooring. Why not grab one of the ships bikes and cycle off into the nearby 'Forest of Compiegne' and visit the 'Carrefour de l'Armistice. This is where the German army surrendered to the Allies on 11th November 1918 and where you will find a replica of the original railway carriage used for the signing. The original having been re-used by Hitler as a venue for the signing of the French surrender in June 1940 before taking it back to Berlin where it fell foul of an air raid. 'Rive Gauche' and 'La Part des Anges' offer Michelin three fork rated cuisine while the more modest 'local institution' and two fork rated 'Du Nord' offers a further choice for your dining pleasure.

After a substantial continental breakfast we'll leave Compiegne and head towards tonight's destination, the town of Pont-Sainte-Maxence. Today we are cruising on relatively wide reaches of the river Oise. The scenery is a mix of countryside and increasing industry as we gradually make our way towards the capital of France, Paris. Its worth visiting the 'Abbaye Royale du Moncel' while in town, possibly taking the guided tour if its open on a Sunday. Tonight I'll cook you a hearty dinner aboard.

The fallen German Eagle after the 1918 Armistice signed in a clearing in the forest outside CompiegneWe have a lot of ground to cover on Monday and after an early breakfast we will cruise though to the very pleasant town of L'Isle-Adam. Moorings are extremely limited here but I hope to tie up on the river bank in a spot I used two years ago. L'Isle-Adam is built on tourism and with a river beach, huge swimming 'lido', its pretty centre offers lots of opportunities for dining out and simply mooching around. You might even choose to have a flutter at the Casino.

On Tuesday we'll enjoy a short morning cruise through to the lovely riverside village of Auvers-sur-Oise. Its worth a quick look around this village where Vincent van Gogh lived and drew much inspiration. Unfortunately most things are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays around here, so its unlikely you'll be able enter any of the buildings. Small plaques outside however show  Van Gogh's picture as painted, with the real life scene visible behind. It' quite fascinating to walk round the whole series of plaques in the village. There are also a couple of art galleries to visit.

In the afternoon, we will cruise on to either the new leisure port of Cergy with its restaurants, expensive apartments and designer shops, or cruise further to the junction with the River Seine at 'Conflans-Ste-Honorine'. Conflans is pretty industrial but after all the countryside we've encountered this week provides the busy water life and activity one would expect from such a major waterway as the Seine. Conflans is also home to many retired bargemen whose laid up Freycinets line the banks, sometimes six or more abreast. I'll try to moor in amongst them or for a less turbulent location, just off the main channel at nearby Andresy. It's possible to head in to Paris by suburban train tonight should you fancy 'hitting the smoke' for dinner or alternatively we can walk to the one fork Michelin rated 'Au Bord de l'Eau in Conflans.

On Wednesday we enter Paris proper and slowly make our way upstream during a full days cruising through to the quay at the Port de Grenelle. The banks of the Seine are almost entirely lined with moored boats and barges of every shape, size and condition. We might encounter huge ocean going ships leaving the Port of Paris as well as the Bateaux-Mouches synonymous with the Seine around the Eiffel Tower. Our mooring is about 15 minutes walk from the Eiffel tower and with luck we'll even be able to see it from Barge Nilaya's deck. Another amazing thing about today's voyage is how suddenly the centre of Paris arrives. No sooner have we past a vast cement producing wharf, there's the Eiffel Tower! The whole of Paris is on your doorstep tonight so I suggest you paint the town red! A Metro station is very close by. Exploring and enjoying this beautiful city and dining in its chic bistros is your best bet and why not really splash out and enjoy dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant atop the Eiffel tower. It's not as expensive as you might think but will provide memories that last a lifetime. Its also wonderful to walk to the tower 'on one of the hours' after dark. The lightshow is stunning!

First thing on Thursday morning we'll enjoy a quick circuit of Paris's main river landmarks cruising upstream under the Pont de Grenelle with its Statue of Liberty, which incidentally faces West towards the bigger one in New York! We'll cruise past the Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Invalides, Jardin des Tuileries, Musee d'Orsay, 'Ile de la Cite' and Notre-Dame plus pass under the cities many beautiful bridges. Barge Nilaya then turns left and rises into the 'Paris Port de l'Arsenal', a harbour located one canal lock above the mighty River Seine. After a short wait, we then get a green light to enter the Canal Saint-Martin via another highlight of today's cruising, the two kilometre tunnel which runs right under the Bastille. Light filters down through the air shafts and Japanese rainbow light sculptures grace the darkened space. It's a great experience. On my last three voyages through this tunnel, we even met a boat coming the other way which is theoretically impossible given it being a one way only tunnel!

Once we emerge, we'll rise through a series of double locks on the Canal Saint Martin. It'll take several hours and you can be sure we'll be being watched by hoards of Parisians and tourists who'll witness our every move as we do so.. Tonight we'll be mooring in the Basin de Villette providing the chance for a long walk to Montmartre, Notre-Dame Cathedral or maybe the lively Latin Quarter area for a drink.

You are due to leave Barge Nilaya after breakfast on Friday morning. The Gare de Nord and l'Est are but a short walk away.


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.

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