Vosges, Moselle & Nancy

Epinal to Nancy (Cruise runs Saturday to Friday)

Highlights: Canal des Vosges - Nancy's Place Stanislas - Epinal's Imagerie - Liverdun & the Moselle - Toul's fortifications

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. 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. Because we are sometimes mooring in remote locations, 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. 'Le Capitainerie' right next to Barge Nilaya would be an easy choice. We will enjoy my 'welcome aboard dinner' tomorrow night, where we don't have the opportunity to dine ashore. 

Cruising on the Canal des Vosges near EpinalOur cruising begins on Sunday morning by following the tranquil Epinal branch of the Canal des Vosges. Instead of turning left and beginning a route that would end at the Mediterranean, we turn right and onto the Canal des Vosges running north towards Nancy. We cruise into tranquil tree lined sections of the canal and I plan to moor near the small village of Nomexy for Sunday night . Two bridges away from the canal is the interesting old village of Chatel-sur-Moselle. This village is home to ruins that I'm told were one of the greatest fortified castles in Europe. There are three levels of galleries and underground rooms which with luck we will be able to tour. Tonight, we'll enjoy the welcome dinner aboard.

On Monday we pass though more rural canal, stopping briefly in Charmes to pick up fresh supplies. We will have our very own lock-keeper traveling with us as we cruise. He drives ahead in his van, hopefully opening and having the next ecluse ready for our arrival. Right through to the Moselle, the ecluses are manually operated using age old mechanical technology to raise and lower the water level within. The eclusiers are often grateful for a bit of assistance should you fancy helping out. Tonight we moor near the Village of Roville. It's in a tunnel of trees and pretty much in the middle of nowhere. One thing I remember from the last time I moored here, is the utter darkness and blanket of stars filling the slit of sky between the treetops above. I hope it will be as remarkable again this time. Tonight we will self cater aboard. On Tuesday we swap the cosy Canal des Vosges for the mighty Moselle. At Neuves-Maisons we trade in the snug 'Freycinet' sized locks encountered so far this week for the vast ecluses (locks) of the Moselle. We cruise across a steel works loading area before entering one of these monster locks and then further down the mighty Moselle river, possibly encountering the huge 1500 tonne scrap barges en route to either the steel works or Rhine in Germany. We might even end up sharing one of these massive locks with one of them. It's moments like this when you realise how small 82 tonne Barge Nilaya is! 

The stunning Place Stanislas in NancyMooring in, or just outside the 'Port de France', the octagonal fortress city of Toul has immense defensive walls and moats laid out by Vauban in the 18th century. The intricately detailed facade of the St-Etienne Cathedral built between the 13th and 16th centuries is also worthy of note. Toul is another place where I suggest guests dine ashore. If it's open, I recommend 'La Belle Époque' near the station for some reasonably priced tasty food. Alternatively, you can self cater aboard. Wednesday is market day in Toul so you'll get a chance to have a wander round before we depart in the morning. On Wednesday we actually pass under Toul's defensive city walls before cruising up a magnificent, wide, heavily wooded stretch of the River Moselle with our destination today being the impressive Huge scrap barges carry metal to the steel works at Neuves-Maisons on the uppermost reaches of the navigable Moselle River 12th century hilltop village of Liverdun. Subject to one of the VERY limited spaces being available, I hope to moor and give you a chance to look around the village and its fortifications. Tonight we could enjoy a BBQ on deck or self cater aboard with produce from Toul's market. After such a beautiful stretch of river, Thursday's final approach to Nancy is through a rather shabby industrial suburb but our mooring is a lovely spot, right in the very heart of this stunning city. It's just 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's a masterpiece of 18th century town planning. There's lots to see and do and you shouldn't miss seeing the Historic Museum of Lorraine while there. Nancy's tourist office can organise private guided tours if you are interested. Dining out in one of the Cities chic restaurants should round off your cruise nicely.

You are due to leave Barge Nilaya after breakfast on Friday. It's market day in Nancy and there's probably still lots you want to see or do, so you are most welcome to store your bags aboard Barge Nilaya and pick them up later in the day. The TGV rail journey from Paris to Epinal will take in the region of two and a half hours and Nancy to Paris in the region 90 minutes. More detailed train times can be researched at SNCF the French rail operator.

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.