The River Meuse flows over a distance of 950 km, through Haute-Marne, Vosges, Meuse, Ardennes, Belgium and the Netherlands before reaching the North Sea. Much of it has been canalised in the north of Ardennes but, in Meuse, it is a wild, winding waterway covering some 200 km, forming the backbone of the “county” of the same name and flowing through it from north to south, across beautiful countryside that can be peaceful and relaxing or dynamic and invigorating. Among the towns along its route are Stenay, Dun-sur-Meuse, Verdun (a major World War I site), Saint-Mihiel and Commercy.
The “county” of Meuse has the most beautiful stretch of river because, here, it is an untamed waterway, relatively unaffected by industry.
Even though it often floods, the people who live along the banks of the Meuse are very fond of this free-spirited river and its tendency to go exploring !
Meuse, a centre of biodiversity in Lorraine
Meuse boasts an outstanding natural heritage that is often underestimated. The wetlands around the river are biodiversity hotspots, filled with iconic flora and fauna. It is its rare natural diversity that has led to its classification as a Natura 2000 zone. Its creeks, backwaters and wetlands are significant habitats for numerous very sensitive species. Birds such Eurasian curlew, corn crakes and whinchats (which have now almost completely disappeared) are now rare but they can still be seen in the Meuse Valley.
Formerly called the “Eastern Canal”, the Meuse Canal follows the course of the river, creating a majestic, and incredibly beautiful, waterway. This is one of the major cruising destinations for holidaymakers from Belgium, Holland and Germany. It has a winding course and includes countless locks. The towpath lining the canal is a wonderful place for a walk or cycle run.
Cruising on the Meuse
Step aboard a river cruiser to make sure you don’t miss any of the river’s charms !
- Set out from Dun-sur-Meuse, a picturesque village in the heart of the Val Dunois, for a trip lasting a few hours or a few days with Meuse Nautic ! The company offers a range of products :
- 2-hour mini-cruises with skipper to explore the unspoilt Meuse. A delightful opportunity to see the natural environment as you listen to the gentle sound of the water lapping against the boat.
- “Souchet” boat hire (small aluminium cruisers). No boating permit is required and you can cruise for a few hours or several days! The boats cater for 4 to 8 people. They’re easy to steer – all you need is a short introductory lesson. This is an unusual holiday for family or friends and it gives a chance to enjoy the wonderful marinas located along the course of the river.
- Step aboard Fluviatours’ **Mosa** in Verdun for short trips and lunch or dinner cruises. The cruises, with on-board commentary, provide an unusual view of Verdun and some unique views of its historic buildings.
River Meuse by bike
Cycle cross the entire “county” of Meuse from Stenay (site of the Beer Museum) to Domrémy-la-Pucelle, birthplace of Joan of Arc. It’s a 180-kilometre trip along quiet country roads - and a chance to explore some of the local heritage as well as experiencing the activities and amenities available on both banks of the river. See Notre-Dame church in Mont-devant-Sassey, the rural holiday resort of Doulcon, the destroyed village of Cumières, the fortified Romanesque church in Dugny-sur-Meuse, Fort Troyon, the works of art in the Vent des forêts exhibition, the Benedictine library in Saint-Mihiel, the truffle centre (maison des truffes et de la trufficulture), the castle chapel and the town gate (Porte de France) in Vaucouleurs, the Oxfordian limestone Blanche Côte (hill) in Pagny-la-Blanche-Côte etc.
It’s an ideal route, taking you up to the source of the River Meuse, and all along the way is accommodation adapted to the needs of cyclotourists.
Fishing in the River Meuse
Whether you fish for roach, carp, pike-perch or pike, you’ll more than likely find just what you’re looking for on the banks of the Meuse (river or canal). Along its “untamed” stretches and in the canalised sections, the Meuse delights anglers for its unexpectedly varied fish population!!! The river has some excellent game fishing stands (pike, pike-perch and wels’ catfish), plenty of backwaters, and numerous creeks that are ideal for whitebait or carp.
There are also several Category 1 streams flowing through the Meuse Valley, home to large numbers of minnows and rainbow trout. In most places, there are plenty of tracks leading to the river and you can park your car on the side of them! Numerous well-equipped campsites are also located close to fishing grounds, ready to welcome anglers and their families.