Compiegne to Reims Barge Cruise

Reims to Compiegne (Cruise runs Saturday to Friday)

Highlights: The Champagne Capital of Reims - Soissons - Compiegne - Armistice Clearing

Compiegne street sceneYou'll be joining Barge Nilaya at our mooring in the fabulous City of Reims, famed throughout the world for its involvement in the Champagne industry! It is highly likely that you'll visit the 'odd' Champagne cave in town, possibly even forcing yourselves to drink yet more of the celebrated liquid? The champagne houses of GH Mumm, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Piper-Heidsieck offer guided tours and degustations. 

There is so much to see and do here. Reims' Notre- Dame Cathedral is spectacular with a facade containing some 2300 statues! It's 38 metre high nave has borne witness to the coronation of French Kings from Clovis in 498 AD until Charles X in 1825. It contains no less than two UNESCO world heritage monuments, the stunning 'Palais du Tau' and interior of the 'Basilique St. Remi'. I have details of a self guided 2 hour walking tour if you are interested in following it. Reims is a wonderful city to explore at your leisure and you might decide that tonight's the night to kick start your week and splash out on a meal out in one of Reims' very chic and fashionable restaurants. 'Foch' and 'Le Millenaire' are but two of Reims three fork Michelin rated establishments. I would recommend that you consider arriving a day or so earlier to fully appreciate all the city has to offer, maybe booking a hotel in town?

Having consumed a healthy continental breakfast, on Sunday morning we'll be steaming out of Reims following the 'Canal de l'Aisne a la Marne' through to tonight's mooring at the important canal junction with the 'Canal des Ardennes' and 'Canal lateral a l'Aisne' at Berry-au-Bac. In complete contrast to the civilisation of Reims, the canal quickly leaves the old industry and decaying wharves as we skirt the Champagne cereal plains. Tonight we'll moor on a grassy canal bank and if the weather permits, its a cracking place to enjoy a bbq. Alternatively, two restaurants lie a short walk away. Berry au Bac was the scene of a very important first world war battle in which the very first petrol driven French tanks were used. A large memorial lies a couple of kilometres bike ride from the mooring.

On Monday we cruise along the rural 'Canal lateral a l'Aisne' through pastoral landscapes towards this evenings mooring, a few hours cruise away near the village of Bourg-et-Comin. Located on a junction with yet another canal, this time the 'Canal de l'Oise a l'Aisne', Bourg-et-Comin lies a kilometres walk away and has a small restaurant called the 'Auberge de la Vallee' which might provide the location for tonight's dinner. The mooring also offers another great spot for a bbq should we so choose or I might cook you a hearty dinner aboard.

Tuesday involves a lot of cruising if we are to reach the lovely town of Soissons by the time the locks close. Its an interesting mix of scenery as we pass by Vailly-sur-Aisne and Venizel but the mooring in Soissons offers access to a town that I've read described as being "in a constant state of demolition". Its Abbey was destroyed in the French Revolution and all that remains is the main facade; its city walls were demolished in the 1800's; and three major wars trashed much of what remained. That said, I find Soissons a very pleasant town with lots of character, paved streets and an interesting cathedral. I hope that you feel the same. There are a number of restaurants including the one fork, Michelin rated 'Chez Raphael'

Wednesday is market day in Soissons and a very fine one it is too. We'll have an early wander around first thing but need to get cruising West , because Choisy-au-Bac, our evenings destination is located quite a long distance away. We'll be taking lunch on the 'hoof' today but with luck will arrive in time for you to grab the ships bikes and cycle off into the nearby 'Forest of Compiegne' to the 'Carrefour de l'Armistice. This is where the German Army surrendered to the Allies on 11th November 1918 and there 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 being transported to Berlin and destroyed in an air raid. This museum can be visited if we arrive early enough but if not, and you are particularly interested, we have plenty of time to do it in the morning before cruising on to the weeks final destination of Compiegne. Choisy-au-Bac is home to the excellent 'Auberge du Buissonnet' two fork Michelin rated restaurant.

The fallen German Eagle after the 1918 Armistice signed in a clearing in the forest outside CompiegneCompiegne is another nice place with great shopping, dining  and sightseeing opportunities. Its Royal Chateau was designed as a summer retreat for Louis XV but became Napoleon III and his Empress Eugenie's favourite residence. You can visit the stately apartments on a guided tour should you desire. There is an interesting small motor museum and the 16th century Hotel de Ville or town hall is worth a look too. Joan of Arc was captured in Compiegne in 1430 and imprisoned in a cellar a stones throw from our mooring. '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' a further alternative for your dining pleasure.

You are due to leave Barge Nilaya after breakfast on Friday morning with regular trains to Paris taking less than an hour. Trains to Reims from Paris also take about an hour.


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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