La Meuse

When passing moorings from our trip last year, we realised again that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Some moorings don’t look very inviting, but when exploring the towns you'll find hidden treasures. Like e.g. the old tannery quarters and the  Palace Stanislas in Commercy, the sepulchre in Église St. Étienne in St. Mihiel or the felt museum in Mouzon. For more on those places that we visited last year, click on the underlined text above.

The Meuse changes at various points from narrow canal to natural river. It is bordered by rural land and small forests -  just a lovely waterway to cruise along! There is no commercial traffic, but we met all kind and sizes of boats.

A group of Belgian canoeists were paddling for 2 weeks down the Meuse to Belgium. They moored up with us at the small village of Ambly-sur-Meuse and soon had their tents pitched and a BBQ fire going in a small wheelbarrow.

As the temperatures reached 32 degrees that day, we gave them some of our cold water for refreshment. They thanked us with a basket of fresh croissants left on our deck the next morning.

A Dutch couple we had met earlier on the Saar we saw again in Verdun. Their small home-made sailing boat had nothing but a covered area with a double bed and storage underneath. The rest of the boat harboured another storage box with a built-in “Alfresco” toilet and 2 chairs. We have never met a happier two-some. Probably being in their mid -seventies, they have travelled in their boat for a few months each year for 15 years.

Even the noise from the soccer fans on final day did not dampen their youthful spirit. The soccer celebrations were all along the quay starting as early as 1pm and although France lost to Portugal in the end, the singing and explosion of fire crackers lasted till way past midnight.

After Verdun we enjoyed a quiet stop on a holding pontoon (below lock 27). Apart from a small waterfall and an inquisitive goat, nothing disturbed the peace.

Temperatures cooled down again and the rain returned, so we just travelled 15km the next day and turned into the port of Stenay. The port is situated in a disused sidearm of the canal leading to an old mill which is now a hotel and fine restaurant.

Through intermittent rain showers we walked through the town along 18th century facades and the remains of the old ramparts.

The Stenay beer museum located in an old granary turned brewery in the late 19th century,is well set up. Although we found it not quite as interesting as the Leffe Museum in Dinant, its still worth a visit.

Along the river there is plenty of wildlife. Apart from the usual ducks, swans, herons we saw eagles, a kingfisher and storks nesting. 

Around a bend we came across a beautiful deer struggling to scale the steep bank after having fallen into the canal. Austin was just getting ready to lasso it, but frightened by our boat it strongly paddled across to the other side of the canal. Thankfully the bank on this side was shallow and the deer managed to scramble out.

All along the Meuse we hardly had to pay for moorings. We also learned something from our Aussie Barge friends. The following sign apparently means: "Reserved for Australian boats!"

© Austin Robinson 2019