Canal du Midi Luxury Hotel Barge Cruises
Linking the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, the sunny Canal du Midi is one of the oldest man-made waterways in Europe. A World Heritage Site, the Canal du Midi has unusual oval locks and beautiful bridges and aqueducts and is sheltered by plane trees for long stretches. The sun-drenched Midi region is noted for its Corbieres and Minervois wines, ancient Roman settlements and sleepy villages, and for its blend of Provencale and Mediterranean cuisine.
Central on the Canal du Midi is Europe's largest and best preserved medieval fortress at Carcassonne. Its medieval towers and walled city make a romantic World Heritage site. Eastwards cruise to Argens, dominated by its 14th century chateau. The Canal du Midi winds past vineyards to villages such as pretty Le Somail, the start of a long lock-free section.
Perhaps diverting down the Canal de la Robine towards Narbonne, the Canal du Midi continues to the interesting village of Capestang and the world’s oldest canal tunnel at Malpas. Then descend the flight of seven locks at Fonserannes to the west of Beziers, birthplace of Pierre-Paul Riquet, founder of the Canal du Midi. Close to the Mediterranean the Canal reaches the fishing village of Marseillan on the banks of the Etang de Thau in the Camargue. Four hotel barges operate on the Midi: 8-passenger Anjodi well-known from Rick Stein’s TV French Odyssey, 8-passenger Enchante and 10-passenger Athos.
West of Toulouse in the Gascony region, enjoy cruises over the Canal de la Garonne on 8-passenger Rosa (also used by Rick Stein). Highlights are Montauban, the amazing inclined plane boat lift at Montech, and the graceful aqueduct at Moissac.