Join Barge Nilaya on her mooring on the quiet outskirts of the stunning art nouveau city of Nancy. We're moored about 15 minutes modern tram ride away from Place Stanislas, an architectural gem of a central square created in 1750 and 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 is a masterpiece of 18th century town planning. The opportunities to dine out are vast so its definitely your best course of action on the first night! If time allows, we certainly recommend you stay in Nancy a night or two before or after your cruise! On joining day, we generally pick you up from either the main train station or a Nancy hotel at around 15.30
After a substantial breakfast, we cast off at around nine for an interesting cruise to one of three possible moorings. Crevic, Einville or Bauzemont. The scenery's initially quite industrial as we pass through Dombasle, once home to one of the largest privately owned barge fleet in the world. Industry soon gives way to bucolic pastoral landscapes and small villages and tonight we'll prepare you a hearty home cooked dinner aboard.
Today Nilaya climbs gently through ever more rural landscapes. Tonights mooring is the sleepy canalside hamlet of Lagarde. This part of Europe suffered a turbulent history with Lagarde itself changing hands between Germany and France four times in only 75 years! In fact, the very first battle of WW1 was fought here on 11th August 1914 and a small precurser of the carnage to come. Small French and German war cemeteries at either end of the village act as a constant reminder of the sacrifices made. This evening you'll take dinner ashore at the excellent PK209 bistro. PK 209 is the kilometre post marking on the Marne Rhine canal outside!
After another tasty feast for breakfast, we cast off towards the mighty sixteen metre Rechicourt-le-Chateau canal lock. En route, if you like, we can make time to explore the five overgrown lock chambers that were replaced by the new lock in the late 1960's. It's an interesting and explorative walk, although sometimes a little muddy! After rising up the deepest lock in France we find ourselves cruising on the 33 kilometre lock free canal summit level mooring for the night in either Hesse or Niderviller. We cruise past vast reservoirs, dense forest and the gentle scenery of the 'Parc regional de Lorraine'. It is really quite lovely up here! The city of Sarrebourg lies about six kilometres away from the canal and this afternoon, you might like to visit the 13th Century Cordeliers Chapel with its massive Chagall designed stained glass window. Tonight we cook the second of your included dinners aboard! Be hungry!!
Today will likely be the highlight of the weeks cruising. Not only do we have to navigate through the two tunnels of Niderviller and Arzviller spending three kilometres underground, we then have to drop down the side of a seriously steep hill via the spectacular St Louis-Arzviller barge lift. The unique, spectacular and thrilling 'St-Louis-Arzviller Inclined plane' as it's correctly known, is a wonder of 1960's engineering that replaced seventeen locks and by using counterbalanced weights lifts a 900 tonne trough of water containing you, me, Barge Nilaya and possibly another boat, floating inside it, sideways down the side of a cliff! The views over the forests of the steeply sided Zorn valley are wonderful from up here and it's an experience you won't forget! Hold on tight now!
With luck we'll find time to explore some of the now abandoned and empty ecluses by either bike or on foot. These offer quite a spectacle, still being complete with their lock keepers cottages, narrow gauge rail tracks and lock gates. We moor below the lift tonight, so you can sit high on our sun deck and watch as other boats come and go to ride the lift. Dinner tonight can be taken at the excellent 'Brasserie des Eclusiers', a short walk from our mooring.
Our last days cruising takes us down the wonderful Zorn Valley to the bustling town of Saverne, full of half-timbered houses and the huge summer palace of Cardinal Louis-de-Rohan, near which we hope to moor. After casting off from our mooring below the boat lift, the 'Marne-au-Rhin' canal takes us through a stunningly rural section of Alsace-Lorraine including a lunch stop in the beautiful village of Lutzelbourg. Few canal side villages are as pretty as Lutzelbourg. Ruined castles dot hilltops high above where we cruise, one such ruin commanding views through the 'Col-de-Saverne' as far as Strasbourg. Chateau-de-Haut-Barr or the 'Eye of Alsace' is however, at least a five kilometre uphill hike from our proposed mooring but the breathtaking view is well worth the effort. Alternatively, we'll have our car with us and can whisk to admire the view in minutes! You have plenty of dining opportunities in Saverne, but to be honest, theres knowhere as quinticencially 'Alsacian' as Tavern Katz, so in our view, thats where you should go.
You'll be leaving Nilaya after breakfast on Friday morning. Saverne train station is around ten minutes level luggage trundle from the mooring. Fast TGV Trains from Paris to Nancy take about 90 minutes and Saverne to Paris around two hours. Strasbourg, a great place to extend your holiday lies about 25 minutes train ride to the east.
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.