You'll join Barge Nilaya at around 4pm in the City of Verdun. It's a place forever synonymous with the loss of about 1,000,000 lives in just one year during the carnage, tragedy and bloodbath that was the first world war. But today, as European city of peace, it's a cosmopolitan place with riverside bars, restaurants and throughout the summer months, a superb series of concerts right on the main quay. There's much to see in town, such as the Citadel, various memorials and an amazing Rodin statue close to our mooring. I personally I find it extremely haunting but nevertheless very moving and impressive. The opportunities to dine out in Verdun are good, so shore dining is definitely your best course of action tonight.
Today, after a further chance to explore Verdun, we depart through some lovely meandering stretches of canal. Just before we reach Consenvoye, we descend through the lock at Samogneux. This ecluse is almost the only remains of a once thriving village utterly destroyed in 1916. Heading on through wonderful rural canal scenery, tonight we'll enjoy an evening moored at either Consenvoye with its chance to visit a thought provoking first world war German cemetery set just above the village or head on a little further to the pleasant village of Vilosnes. This summer I spotted some villagers swimming in the nearby river here, if that should take your fancy. Tonight we'll enjoy a gorgeous dinner aboard.
Lots of lovely canal cruising today as we cruise through to a lunch stop in Dun-sur-Meuse and on to the village of Stenay for the evening. It was from here that the Germans coordinated their attacks on Verdun but now finds itself home to the European Beer museum. A most enjoyable place to visit! The small town also has a park laid out with places to play Petanque. Maybe we'll give that a go too. Stenay offers a couple of simple eateries for tonights dinner ashore.
Lovely rural cruising today as we enjoy cruising to a wonderful 'wild' mooring in the middle of nowhere called Alma. It's one of Isabelle and my favourite spots on the French canal network and assuming we get there before other boats, we'll tie up for the day and pretty much have this 'island' between the canal and tiny River Meuse all to ourselves. If the weather's good, there really is no better spot for an outdoor explore or snooze. Dining out's NOT an option, so we'll prepare a tasty dinner aboard and if lucky, enjoy it alfresco either on the barges deck or by laying up one of the moorings own picnic benches..
The City of Sedan with its immense castle is today's destination. In fact it's the largest fortress in the whole of Europe and well worth the tour which we'll hopefully enjoy later in afternoon. In some places the castle walls are twenty metres thick! There's some lovely dining opportunities in the old town near the chateau, so tonight, your dinner is at your own expense, ashore, a short walk from the barge.
Today sees our final destination on this weeks cruise. Charleville-Mezieres is a pleasant town laid out in the 17th century around the Place Ducale, one of the most beautiful Louis XIII style squares in France. It's home to a museum celebrating the life and works of French poet Arthur Rimbaud as well as the International Marionette institute. The institute's building has an hourly automaton that recites the local legend of the Four Aymon brothers or Quatre Fils Aymon as it is known locally. It's well worth seeing. Charleville offers some excellent dining opportunities plus has a great bar in the hold of a cavernous French cargo peniche (Barge). If you fancy something light with a glass of beer or wine, why not try the 'tarte-flambe'. It's a bit like a pizza with cheese, onion and bacon. Very tasty! There's also a fabulous Michelin rated restaurant we can recommend here.
You'll be leaving Barge Nilaya after breakfast. Trains from Charleville-Mezieres to Paris take about 90 minutes and Paris to Verdun in the region of two and a half hours and run via Meuse TGV station plus a short bus ride. It's also possible o take a wonderfully scenic train and bus ride through to Dinant in nearby Belgium from where you can connect with direct trains to Liege, Namur, Brussels and Holland.
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.