Battlefields, Puppets & Boars

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Verdun to Charleville-Mezieres (Cruise runs Saturday to Friday)

Highlights: Charleville-Mezieres Place Ducale - Europe's largest fortress at Sedan - European Beer museum - Verdun's monuments and Battlefields

The very impressive fortress at SedanYou'll join the barge at around 4pm on a Saturday 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. 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. While here I'll walk you to an amazing Rodin statue close to our mooring. I personally I find it extremely haunting but nevertheless very moving and impressive.

A monument to the fallen in VerdunThe 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. The tour has to be booked 24 hours in advance and leaves from central Verdun at 2pm until 6pm. If you'd like to take this 25-30 Euro per person tour and are arriving in Verdun in time, I can organise the reservation for you when the barge arrives on Friday morning. You can drop your bags into the barge, grab a quick shower then head off on the tour. The opportunities to dine out in Verdun are so good, its definitely your best course of action tonight. Another boat owner raved about a restaurant he'd been to called 'Le Forum', just outside the centre of town. I'll postpone your welcome dinner until tomorrow or Tuesday's wild mooring. 

Locals swimming in the river at VilosnesOur cruising begins on Sunday morning. Just before we reach Consenvoye, we descend through a lock at Samogneux. This ecluse is 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 self cater and 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 offering the opportunity to dine out at 'Au Vieux Moulin'. Last summer, I spotted some villagers swimming in the nearby river here, if that should take your fancy.

The restaurant in VilosnesOn Monday we cruise through Dun-sur-Meuse and on to the village of Stenay. 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. 

Tuesday has us cruising to a wonderful 'wild' mooring in the middle of nowhere. It's one of my favourite spots and assuming we get there before any other boats, we'll tie up for the day. If the weather's good, there really is no better spot for a walk followed by a leisurely barbeque. Dining out is NOT an option. Maybe tonight I'll cook your welcome dinner and we'll consume it alfresco

A vast French cemerery near the canal at ConservoyeThe City of Sedan with its immense castle is Wednesday's destination. In fact it's the largest fortress in the whole of Europe and well worth the tour! In some places the walls are twenty metres thick. If it can be arranged, we'll try to arrange one of the after dark visits. Place Ducale in Charleville-MezieresTorch light adds a whole new dimension! There are some great dining opportunities in the town, or you can choose to self cater aboard. 

Thursday 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 Freycinet (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! You'll be leaving the barge after breakfast on Friday morning. Trains from Charleville-Mezieres to Paris take about 90 minutes and Paris to Verdun in the region of two and a half hours.

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.