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A Dutch Barge in France

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Finding ‘Heaven’ in the heart of France

Together with a couple of friends, we took this year’s holiday enjoying exclusive use of the 24-metre 1922 Dutch-Barge ‘the barge’ and cruising the beautiful Ardennes region between France’s Charleville-Mezieres and Dinant in Belgium.

Rendezvousing with the barge and English skipper and owner Kevin, was simplicity itself and our first night happened to be a pretty big one in France - Bastille Day. While dining outside on ‘the barge’s foredeck, crowds had steadily gathered on both sides of the river Meuse and the dark skies soon erupted into waterfalls of colour as fireworks burst above us.

Unlike hotel barges, ‘the barge’ included us as active crew, allowing our optional indulgence in all aspects of shipboard life. This included shopping at boulangeries, patisseries, markets and local shops thus enabling us to refresh taste buds that UK superstores simply cannot reach. Lively interaction with all these masters of their craft turned the food shopping into one of the undoubted highlights of our cruise. This active participation also included assisting Kevin and his Canadian crew, Josef, to move his 82-tonne leviathan through canal and river locks – some only marginally larger than ‘the barge’ herself, not to mention the added advantage of being able to tell the skipper where to go!

Our mornings started gently: knocks on the cabin door meant nice cups of tea and coffee waiting on the shelf outside our en-suite double cabins which were followed by leisurely continental breakfasts to welcome in days that proved to be moveable feasts.

The River Meuse was never less than spectacular with densely wooded cliffs that swept right down to the waters edge. Endless forests and small riverside towns and hamlets, steeped in legend, provided wonderful locations for mooring and great opportunities for hiking to viewpoints. The one high above Montherme was particularly Wonderful, rewarding us with breathtaking panoramic views over a 270-degree curve in the river below. Cruising was relaxed, laid back and the pace so slow, any stress got checked in at the gangplank on our first day!

the barge’ cruised just a few hours each day. This left most afternoons free to explore new locales on foot or by the on-board bikes, or to sunbathe, chat, read a book, enjoy a glass of wine or simply slip off for a snooze after lunch. What little river traffic there was, stopped when the locks closed, making evenings a wonderful time for us to absorb breathtaking locations and wonderful waterside towns; we found ourselves watching sunsets that invited long shadows to creep down the heavily forested valley sides. The silence was at times almost overpowering and aboard a large stable craft such as ‘the barge’, we almost forgot that we were afloat at all. She barely moved an inch and wavelets against her steel hull provided unique rhythms that ensured the most wonderful dreamless sleep. One particular night, we lay in bed with our skylight and curtains wide open, to reveal stunning blankets of stars framed by the pitch black forest around us. I hadn’t wondered at such stars since walking deserted Goan beaches many years before.

The general calm of our week was momentarily punctuated by ‘the barge’s navigation through the Ham tunnel. This required every ounce of Kevin and Josef’s concentration as they cautiously piloted all 24 x 4.5 metres of ‘the barge’ through a half kilometre of darkness that on occasion brought her wheelhouse close to the tunnel roof. Although stressful for the crew, we revelled in all the excitement.

Givet was a pretty little riverside town on the Franco-Belgian border providing Moules-a-la-Mariniere by the cauldron. Our host had no problems with impromptu parties, so here, together with a few fellow boaters, laughter, drink, animated conversation and tall tales of the ‘high’ canals continued on the bow deck into the wee small hours. Crossing the border between France and Belgium was a simple affair; while Josef hoisted a Belgian courtesy flag on the mast and navigation pendant from ‘the barge’s bow, Kevin held a brief meeting with the river authorities before steaming from a massive lock into the waterways of Belgium. The Meuse had suddenly grown up a little here and we encountered far larger commercial barges and the waterside industry that kept them busy.

Dinant was next, an interesting town just ripe for exploration. Our final afternoon was spent riding a cable car to tour the immense citadel perched high on rocks above the town. To reward such a fabulous week, we treated Kevin and Josef to Belgian beer and a fine dinner ashore.

We were very sad to be leaving ‘the barge’ after breakfast, but our sadness was tempered by the knowledge that the previous evening we’d decided to join her for another week, next year. Neither we, nor the skipper had any clue as to where ‘the barge’ would be cruising at that time, but the one thing we did know was that, wherever she was, we’d be enjoying another fine week aboard a beautiful barge with Kevin’s wonderful hospitality to discover different reaches of the magnificent French waterways.

Barry and Annett Moss enjoyed an interesting and informal bed and breakfast barge cruise aboard ‘the barge’ during summer 2006

 

 

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JOIN US. Our voyage of discovery continues through the European waterways. This season the barge is cruising Alsace-Lorraine including the magnificent cities of Strasbourg and Nancy and revisiting the magical River Meuse through the Ardennes to Belgium. French canal cruises on luxury hotel barges, French Waterways, French waterways, hotel barge, hotel barging, cruise Holland, canal cruising, barging, gourmet cuisine, fine wines, waterways, canals of Europe, tours, canal, French, France, barge, cruise, wine, canal barge, luxury hotel barge, French canal barge, boat, chateau, wine tour, Holland, Belgium, hotel barge, cruises, vacations, travel, canal barge, traveller, traveller, burgundy, canal, canals, French, France, cruises, canal cruise, trips, charters, barge, boat, river, tours, for, sale, property, cruising, jobs, employment, history, finest wines, wine, wines, hotels, gites, b&b, b & b, bb, bed, breakfast, b ‘n’ b, barge n breakfast, chateau, chateaux, barging, we briefly return to Champagne through the intensely rural Canal des Ardennes before plunging south through the Vosges to explore the wine and food lovers paradise known the world over as Burgundy and Franche-Comte. Oh yes! I can taste it already.... An awesome cruising season with oodles of places to discover, new regional cheeses to savour and an abundance of fabulous wines to taste. It would be great to see you aboard....

THREE DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT FLAVOURS. Our three spectacular cruising grounds are Champagne / Ardennes in the north, Alsace-Lorraine in the centre and Franche-Comte / Burgundy in the south. Imagine each of these areas as a 'hub' from which our separate cruising plans (LEFT) radiate out. Having 'hubs' offers distinct advantages in providing the flexibility to adjust dates and routes to fit your precise needs. You might wish for example, to combine two or more of our routes or cruise a particular route on different dates from those shown on the left. In France they say, 'Pas de Problem!' which means NO PROBLEM to you and I! If you don't see what you want listed, simply Email your hearts desire and I'll do my best to see if I can accommodate it.

TOTAL FLEXIBILITY. the barge and I are completely flexible in our movements and the plan shown on the left is more of an outline than being cast in stone. The earlier you reserve your space, the more flexibility I can offer. 

SAVE A LITTLE MONEY TOO. You'll also save 10% if you book before the end of February. That saves you about $473 US dollars for a group of four for a week, which would certainly buy a lot of wonderful bottles of wine. Drinkable wine starts in France at about $3 US dollars a bottle!

FULL OF SURPRISES. It's important to remember that the barge is my beautiful 'cruising' home and NOT a hotel barge. We don't operate to any fixed schedules and overnight moorings are never guaranteed for us. We muck in and have a wonderful vacation together. The freedom and fun we'll have is amazing and each and every day will be full of surprises. 

Just read what some of our guests had to say...

SOMETHING A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL? How would you like to Barge Charter the barge for the whole season or long period and let us cruise where and when you want. Maybe planning that 'big' trip and inviting different friends or family to join you as guests as you cruise through France? 

Do you enjoy cycling or walking? What about having us move the barge between locations while you walk or cycle in between them? We could even have dinner ready for you on your return each evening...

Can I tailor make a bespoke barge cruise for you? You tell me what you want, for how long and what you'd like to do / see. I'll do the rest. EVERYTHING is possible aboard my barge! 

You need only to Email or Call me...

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 is surrounded by forests opening up endless possibilities for walking, cycling and off road mountain biking. It's also a great place to eat out. The gorgeous park like setting of the Port d'Epinal offers the barge a friendly mooring during the cold Vosges winter.

During the course of the week the barge cruises a variety of different scales of waterway. We travel the broad uppermost reaches of the mighty Moselle encountering 1500 tonne scrap barges en route to the steel works at Neuves-Maisons and possibly even share a giant ecluse (lock) with one. It's moments like this when you realise how small the barge is!

Parts of the Moselle are heavily wooded offering magnificent cruising, particularly the stretch overlooked by the impressive 12th century hilltop village of Liverdun where I hope to moor the barge up for the night. This will be subject to mooring space being available.

In complete contrast to the wide Moselle, we also cruise the beautiful, narrow and mostly rural Canal des Vosges passing through gorgeous tree lined stretches of meandering canal, small villages and overnighting in lovely quiet 'wild' mooring locations, ripe for your exploration by ships bike or on foot.

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. Wednesday is market day in Toul so you'll get a chance to have a wander round before we depart.

the barge moors right in to heart of the stunning city of Nancy, 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 is a masterpiece of 18th century town planning. The opportunities to dine out are vast so it’s definitely your best course of action!

This complete mystery tour will depart and most likely finish in the stunning city of Nancy. 

the barge moors right in to heart of the stunning city of Nancy, 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 is a masterpiece of 18th century town planning. The opportunities to dine out are vast so it’s definitely your best course of action!

Every day will see us rise early to get in the maximum enjoyable cruising as we explore the mighty Moselle as far as we can get into Germany in the time we have. We'll be visiting Metz and possibly Trier but the further we cruise the more we will see. 

If I have no booking for the following week, it is likely that we will reach the junction with the Rhine before turning back. We might even branch off down the Sarre River and back into France through the back door again turning left across to Strasbourg

It will be a complete voyage of discovery.

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the barge moors right in to heart of the stunning city of Nancy, 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 is a masterpiece of 18th century town planning. The opportunities to dine out are vast so it’s definitely your best course of action!

The 33-kilometre summit level between Arzviller and the sixteen-metre drop Rechicourt-le-Chateau ecluse allows lock free cruising through reservoirs and dense forest belonging to the 'Parc regional de Lorraine'. The Lorraine scenery is much more gentle than that of the Vosges Zorn valley.

With luck we'll have 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. Below the lift the Marne-au-Rhin travels nearly three kilometres underground through the Arzviller and Niderwiller tunnels. 

Cruising takes us through a stunningly rural section of Alsace-Lorraine. Villages and towns crammed with half-timbered Alsatian buildings bedecked with tumbling geraniums and floral displays. We take the barge through the spectacular and thrilling 'St-Louis-Arzviller Inclined plane', a wonder of 1960's engineering that replaced seventeen locks and using counterbalanced weights lifts an 850 tonne trough of water with you, me and the barge floating inside, sideways up the side of a cliff! The views over the forests of the steeply sided Zorn valley are wonderful from here. 

The beautiful Alsatian town of Lutzelbourg is overshadowed by its medieval castle and Saverne, full of half-timbered houses and the huge summer palace of Cardinal Louis-de-Rohan, opposite which we hope to moor. 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 'Eye of Alsace' is however, at least a five-kilometre hike from our proposed mooring. Thursday morning hopefully gives us the chance for an early look around the towns weekly market before departure.  

How I converted a Dutch Barge to live aboard in France Barging France, Barge Cruise in France, French Barge Cruises, Barge Vacations in France
How to build and convert a Dutch Barge Learn how to drive a barge
How to buy a barge Learn how to pilot a Dutch barge
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Strasbourg is known as 'the crossroads of Europe' and one home to the European Parliament. It's a cosmopolitan city that oozes charm particularly in the 'old town' known as 'la petite France'. Strasbourg offers an excellent mix of terrific shopping, great sightseeing and huge choice of tasteful restaurants. The magnificent Notre- Dame cathedral is a must see and even though you're on a barge cruise, I thoroughly recommend taking the Vedette tour through picturesque parts of the city barges such as the barge are no longer allowed to cruise. Our Strasbourg mooring might be located a short taxi ride from the centre or in the agricultural village of Waltenheim just outside the City.

Friday is market day in Strasbourg and if you are due to depart the barge after breakfast, you are welcome to leave bags aboard and pick them up later in the day.

 the barge moors right in to heart of the stunning city of Nancy, 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 is a masterpiece of 18th century town planning. The opportunities to dine out are vast so it’s definitely your best course of action!

During the course of this week the barge cruises a variety of different scales of waterway. We travel reaches of the mighty Moselle River encountering huge 1500 tonne scrap barges en route to the steel works at Neuves-Maisons, possibly even sharing some of the giant ecluses (locks) with them. Parts of this stretch of the Moselle are heavily wooded and offer magnificent cruising, particularly the stretch overlooked by the impressive 12th century hilltop village of Liverdun where I hope to moor up for the night, subject to space being available.

We'll stop for lunch on what we affectionately know as 'Picnic Island’, cruise through the 500-metre Foug tunnel and moor up at a wild location on the towpath near the pretty village of Pagny-sur-Meuse, which is a great place for a barbeque! Alternatively you can wander off into the village where a pleasant restaurant awaits.

We cruise close to the town of Commercy which is famed throughout the world as home to the small sponge cakes known as Madeleines and my closely guarded secret location is a truly beautiful wild location just a short walk from the villages of Koeur-la-Grande and Koeur-la-Petite. Big and little hearts respectively. The location certainly captured my heart the first time I moored here! 

Unfortunately amidst all that beauty and just short walk from the barge, lies a small unassuming monument on a ridge high above the valley stating that during the first world war between 1914 and 1918, 60,000 men died at this spot for every square metre of land that changed hands between France and Germany. Such a tragic past for what is now such a beautiful spot. The Koeurs provide another opportunity to dine aboard or enjoy a BBQ on the canal side in a perfectly chosen spot that often benefits from unusually terrific sunsets. I usually ask our guests to venture forth to the village epicerie (grocer) for baguettes in the morning. The friendly proprietor has to be met to be believed!

In the city of Toul we have a chance to admire the defensive walls and moats laid out by Vauban in the eighteenth century plus view the intricately detailed facade of the St. Etienne Cathedral built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Toul is another place where I suggest guests dine ashore. 

In complete contrast to the wide Moselle, we also cruise the beautiful, narrow and mostly rural Canal de la Meuse passing through gorgeous tree lined stretches of meandering canal, small villages and overnighting in lovely quiet 'wild' mooring locations, ripe for your exploration by ships bike or on foot.   

We'll moor on the outskirts for a short visit to the small but well kept town of St. Mihiel as well as hopefully overnighting at yet another wonderfully wild location. This spot is nearly always overgrown but wood supply and weather permitting offers a great place to enjoy an impromptu camp fire under the stars and the chance to put the world to rights until the wee small hours.

Verdun is a city 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, is a cosmopolitan town with riverside bars, restaurants and throughout the summer months, a superb series of concerts right on the main quay. It's possible to visit all the main war monuments and memorials from Verdun, such as the trench of Bayonets, Ossuary at Douaumont, Citadel and villages that were simply never rebuilt after the war. Some 90 years on, it is still unsafe to stray from the well-marked paths in the old battle area.

The tourist information office have a guided tour that operates by bus but during the barge's last three visits, the commentary was only available in French. This tour would need to be arranged for the day you depart or join the barge but we are happy to store your bags aboard until you get back. It must be booked at least 24 in advance. Friday is also market day in Verdun.

This is another of my favourite cruising grounds. Charleville-Mezieres through to Verdun or vice-versa. It offers some great towns to visit plus lovely rural river and canal scenery in between. Charleville-Mezieres is a pleasant little town laid out in the 17th century around the Place Ducale, reputed to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe

Sedan offers an immense fortress to visit. In fact it's the largest fortress in the whole of Europe and well worth the tour! We get the chance to wild moor at a stunning picnic spot in the middle of nowhere and if the weather's good, there really is no better spot for a barbeque. The small town of Stenay is home to the European Beer museum. A most enjoyable place to visit!

The village of Consenvoye offers the chance to walk to a thought provoking first world war German cemetery before we cruise into the very heart of Verdun, 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. 

Today as European city of peace, Verdun is a cosmopolitan town with riverside bars, restaurants and throughout the summer months, a superb series of concerts right on the main quay. It's possible to visit all the main war monuments and memorials from Verdun, such as the trench of Bayonets, Ossuary at Douaumont, Citadel and villages that were simply never rebuilt after the war. Some 90 years on, it is still unsafe to stray from the well-marked paths in the old battle area.

The tourist information office have a guided tour that operates by bus but during the barge's last three visits, the commentary was only available in French. This tour would need to be arranged for the day you depart or join the barge but we are happy to store your bags aboard until you get back. It must be booked at least 24 in advance.

This stretch of waterway is without doubt my favourite cruising ground due to the breathtaking canal and river scenery it offers from beginning to end. 

In the book "Cruising French Waterways" by Hugh McKnight, he wrote of the Meuse (Canal de l'Est) "It is a marvel of French bureaucracy that one of the country's most attractive river navigations should be officially known as the Canal de l'Est (Branche Nord)" He wrote further, "Now begins one of the finest portions of river landscape in Europe." His comments refer to the stretch of the Meuse from Charleville-Mezieres to the Belgian border. I wholeheartedly agree.

Charleville is a pleasant little town laid out in the 17th century around the Place Ducale, reputed to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe and Dinant dominated by the bulbous tower of to the collegial church and its immense citadel high above the town.

Cruising on the Meuse between the two towns is never less than spectacular with densely wooded cliffs sweeping down into the water, endless forests and small riverside hamlets. The whole area is also steeped in legends such as the Quatre Fils Aymon and Roches des Dames de Meuse. 

Together with breathtaking scenery, highlights will include mooring in beautiful 'wild' locations, opportunities to hike up to viewpoints, cycle alongside the river, cruise through 500 metre Ham tunnel and enjoy the pretty riverside town of Givet on the Franco Belgian border. A great place to dine out!

If you would like to cruise this section of waterway but the dates are not right for you, please contact me. I may be able to adjust the programme due to our being in that area for a number of weeks.

 Charleville-Mezieres is a pleasant city laid out in the 17th century around the Place Ducale, reputed to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It has a very cosmopolitan feel. In complete contrast to the civilisation of Charleville, the stunning Canal des Ardennes is a little like cruising up the Amazon in places, the foliage having so overtaken the waterway's original boundaries. From Pont-a-Bar the canal is predominantly rural from beginning to end and wild remote moorings are the norm right through to Variscourt.  Between the rolling fields and forests, another highlight of this navigation is the Montgon flight of 27 ecluses (locks) that drop the barge slowly between the towns of Le-Chesne and Attigny. It's a lot of hard work for the crew taking up to seven hours to cover what is little more than nine kilometres in distance. We aim to try and moor half way down / up at the small village of Neuville-Day in order to enjoy a well earned drink at the great little bar there! 

Once we arrive at the beautifully manicured rural mooring in Variscourt, a two-kilometre walk brings you to a small unmanned railway halt, just twenty minutes train ride from Reims. I don't choose to moor in the port at Reims because although the city is very fine, its port is not due to the incredible number of roads above, below and beside the moorings. What I prefer to do is moor outside the city and take either a taxi or train to the centre. 

The magnificent city of Reims famed throughout the world for its involvement in the Champagne industry! It is highly likely that we will visit the 'odd' Champagne cave in town, possibly even forcing ourselves into enjoying the odd glass too? 

Reims Notre- Dame Cathedral is spectacular with a facade containing some 2300 statues! Its 38 metre high nave has borne witness to the coronation of French Kings from Clovis in 498 AD until Charles X in 1825. It's a wonderful city to explore at your leisure.

This will be the barge's third season cruising the Canal des Ardennes, having traveled it in 2006 en route to Reims, Paris and the Champagne region. 

 I've decided to take the barge sampling more of that wonderful bubbly stuff known as Champagne!! Seeing as I am in Champagne it would be rude not to wouldn't it? I have absolutely no itinerary whatsoever, but needless to say we will be starting in Reims and visiting plenty of Champagne houses somewhere in between there and Variscourt. It'll be a complete adventure...

the barge visited Champagne again in 2006 en route from central Paris. What fun we had... All the below photographs were taken by me...

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 is surrounded by forests opening up endless possibilities for walking, cycling and off road mountain biking. It's also a great place to eat out.

Our cruise starts down the tranquil Epinal branch of the Canal des Vosges before climbing a flight of fourteen locks known as the Montee-de-Golbey. Our route follows narrow steeply sided picturesque cuttings barely wide enough for two boats to pass and navigating the Canal des Vosges 'over the top' takes the barge across the watershed dividing north and southern France. Water from here area flows either to the Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea. It's an intensely rural route passing through densely wooded Vosges countryside and small villages. Sometimes we moor in quiet 'wild' locations to soak up the wonders of nature. This also provides great opportunities to BBQ and dine al fresco!

Part of the route shadows a pretty section of the River Coney and at Pont-du-Coney there is a popular beauty spot. If you fancy exploring, a 3-4km cycle ride will bring you into the Roman founded spa town of Bain-le-Bains with its eleven hot water springs. 

The once fortified Fontenoy-le-Chateau is a delightful little town set in a deep valley. Its infinitely worthy of exploration and has I understand, a population that's 30% Dutch. The church is well worth a visit.

Selles is a pretty village complete with a bar and local cheese producer, which I hope to moor in or near. 

Instead of the wonderful woodland encountered between Epinal and Corre, the River Saone offers the contrast of broad pastureland and meadow through to arrival in Port-sur-Saone.

This waterway offers wonderful opportunities to walk or cycle between ecluses, (locks) on the first couple of days

From Port-sur-Saone, the barge cruises a particularly lovely section of the Petite Saone bounded by deep woods and pastureland. An unusual feature on a river, we travel through not one but two river tunnels, namely those of St- Albin and Savoyeux and pass the sleepy hamlet of Rupt-sur-Saone with its turreted chateau peering through trees over the village and river across the fields that separate us. 

Beyond Charentenay we encounter lovely scenery but the panorama that waits below Ray-sur-Saone ecluse will be one of the highlights of the trip. With luck, we'll also spot the typically Burgundian tiled roof of Ray-sur-Saone's church and stunning chateau. 

Gray is the first sizeable town we encounter but with luck we'll aim to moor at Mantoche with its truly beautiful chateau right down by the riverside. It's a lovely spot for a barbeque! From here towards the junction at St-Symphorien, the scenery is pastoral. with another possible overnight being the town of Auxonne with ruined  riverside turrets and interesting 15th century buildings at its heart. Alternatively, we might choose to moor wild on the Canal du Rhone-au-Rhin.

Dole is a busy little gem of a town with a fascinating historic quarter full of narrow alleyways and fifteenth century houses and courtyards. The town has a lovely feel about it and it’s a nice place to enjoy a cool beer or glass of local Jura wine at an outdoor cafe. It's also the birthplace of the world-renowned immunologist, Louis Pasteur. A short taxi ride away from Dole is the Chateau d'Arlay with its lovely gardens.

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The canal outside Dole is shrouded by huge plane trees, which give it a feel not unlike, that experienced on the French barge vacation. We navigate a mixture of canal and river and if possible will moor at Osselle to try and visit its caves. This might involve hiring a taxi. We go through the 185m Thoraise Tunnel and encounter high wooded cliffs crowned by the remaining tower of the Chateau de Montferrand.

In Besancon, the capital of Franche-Comte, we will more than likely tie up under the King's tower of Vauban's Citadel. Its a great place to explore on foot and offers tremendous views across the River Doubs. Inside is a museum devoted to the French Resistance and the many Nazi atrocities or WWII. Besancon has some nice restaurants and in its old town, lovely buildings, some ornately finished with decorative ironwork dating back to the seventeenth century. If you love clocks and timepieces, then visits to the 'Musee du Temps' and astronomical clock near to St-Jean's Cathedral are a must.  

This week offers many wonderful opportunities to walk or cycle between ecluses. (Locks) Optional activities and side visits can be built into this route, such as one very popular one. Ballooning!

A lovely weeks cruising through some beautiful parts of the Franche-Comte and Burgundy regions of France during which we'll visit major places along our route such as Dijon, St-Jean-de-Losne, Dole and Besancon. 

In Besancon, the capital of Franche-Comte, we will more than likely tie up under the King's tower of Vauban's Citadel. Its a great place to explore on foot and offers tremendous views across the River Doubs. Inside is a museum devoted to the French Resistance and the many Nazi atrocities or WWII. Besancon has some nice restaurants and in its old town, lovely buildings, some ornately finished with decorative ironwork dating back to the seventeenth century. If you love clocks and timepieces, then visits to the 'Musee du Temps' and astronomical clock near to St-Jean's Cathedral are a must.  

Dole is a busy little gem of a town with a fascinating historic quarter full of narrow alleyways and fifteenth century houses and courtyards. The town has a lovely feel about it and it’s a nice place to enjoy a cool beer or glass of local Jura wine at an outdoor cafe. It's also the birthplace of the world-renowned immunologist, Louis Pasteur. A short taxi ride away from Dole is the Chateau d'Arlay with its lovely gardens.

The canal outside Dole is shrouded by huge plane trees, which give it a feel not unlike, that experienced on the french barge vacation. We navigate a mixture of canal and river and if possible will moor at Osselle to try and visit its fabulous caves. This might involve hiring a taxi. We go through the 185m Thoraise Tunnel and encounter high wooded cliffs crowned by the remaining tower of the Chateau de Montferrand.

At either the beginning or end of our weeks cruise we'll enjoy ambling around the city of Dijon. At its centre, a tangle of small streets such as Rue Verrerie beg further exploration as do the 13th century Notre-Dame and St-Michel's churches. Art lovers shouldn't miss the 'Musee des Beaux Arts' located inside the imposing 'Palais des Ducs' in Dijon's Place de la Liberation.

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St-Jean-de-Losne is the self-proclaimed waterways capital of France, lying as it does near the junctions of no less than six major navigations. It’s a pleasant enough place with a very 'boaty' feel, lovely town quay and a number of Marinas. 

Between Dijon and St-Jean-de-Losne lies the village of Longecourt-en-Plaine, which is home to a magnificent Chateau right on the bank of the canal. 

The canal du Bourgogne or Burgundy canal is one of the most beautiful navigations in the country. Combine this with Burgundy's reputation for fine wines and cuisine; it's no wonder that this area is a magnet to visitors worldwide. 

At either the beginning or end of our weeks cruise we'll enjoy ambling around the city of Dijon. At its centre, a tangle of small streets such as Rue Verrerie beg further exploration as do the 13th century Notre-Dame and St-Michel's churches. Art lovers shouldn't miss the 'Musee des Beaux Arts' located inside the imposing 'Palais des Ducs' in Dijon's Place de la Liberation.

the barge follows the Canal du Bourgogne through the peaceful Dijonnaise countryside of the Ouche valley, the section near Pont d'Ouche reputedly being one of the most beautiful in France. In places, poplar trees line the canal and fields alongside, full with grazing white Charolais cattle. Where possible we will moor overnight in or near villages such as picture postcard Ste-Marie-sur-Ouche, Gissey-sur-Ouche, Fleury-sur-Ouche, La Bussiere-sur-Ouche, Pont d'Ouche and Vandenesse. 

The cruising offers opportunities to stroll or cycle between locks, explore the beautiful grounds of 12th Century Cistercian 'Abbaye de la Bussiere', and hike the 2-3km up to the Carcassonne like hilltop village of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois offering possibly the best views in Burgundy short of being in a balloon! The village contains some magnificent 14-17th century merchant’s houses, a few shops and the 'Hostellerie du Chateau'. You might choose to dine ashore in this wonderful village location.

At either the beginning or end of our weeks cruise we'll enjoy ambling around the city of Dijon. At its centre, a tangle of small streets such as Rue Verrerie beg further exploration as do the 13th century Notre-Dame and St-Michel's churches. Art lovers shouldn't miss the 'Musee des Beaux Arts' located inside the imposing 'Palais des Ducs' in Dijon's Place de la Liberation.

We follow a perfectly straight section of the Burgundy canal through to its junction with the River Saone at St-Jean-de-Losne. En route we pass and hopefully moor at the village of Longecourt-en-Plaine, which is home to a magnificent Chateau that overlooks the water.