For those who want to experience France in a way unlike any other, the best road trip ever doesn’t involve a highway – it’s via a waterway, on a Canal du Midi Cruise…
A Canal Du Midi Holiday - Exploring this Mediterranean Gem
A Mediterranean Gem
With hotel barge holidays gaining popularity and the routes becoming further diversified, choosing your first destination can be a tough task! If you’re looking for a place to start we’d always recommend France for that quintessential barging experience, so why not begin with a Canal du Midi Holiday Cruise? Here’s what you can expect to see and experience.
Running for 241 kilometres, the main canal spans from Toulouse to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean coast at Marseillan, connecting the Garonne to the Mediterranean. There is, however, a branch between Moussan and Port-la-Nouvelle, incorporating part of the earlier Canal de la Robine.
Considered a remarkable feat of engineering, and one that paved the way for the Industrial Revolution, the Canal du Midi has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996. The region offers one of the best places for a hotel barge holiday, particularly for those interested in the experimental wine region of Languedoc.
Canal du Midi cruises aren’t the only attraction on offer though, wherever we disembark for our daily excursions there are also wonderful historical and cultural sights, from towering cathedrals, to ancient villages, roman ruins and, of course, museums and galleries.
One of the oldest towns in the country, Béziers is located on a bluff above the River Orb. It’s a quaint and quiet stop on a Canal du Midi cruise and is of particular interest to those wanting to sample a few Languedoc wines. In August, there is further reason to visit Beziers, as the annual bullfight is held and a great celebration follows. A hike to Haute Languedoc to explore the rugged and untamed mountainous area reveals picturesque stone villages and cascading mountain streams. Or, you can stay in town and visit the Cathedral of St. Nazair, and the Musée des Beaux Arts – with its paintings by Rubens and Delacroix.
A town in Languedoc that’s a must-see stop on a hotel barge holiday in France is Carcassonne. It is practically the centre of the Languedoc wine country and offers plenty of vineyards and wineries for wine tastings along the way. The best feature of Carcassonne, however, is its unique architecture. The citadel-like walled city and castle over the river – its drawbridges, towers and cobbled streets and archaic aesthetic give it a truly medieval feel. Not as hectic as many of the more modern cities, it has a slow, relaxed ambience and it’s a perfect first stop on a relaxed Canal du Midi Holiday.
Take a look at our video tour of Carcassonne below or head to our destination page for more information on the Canal du Midi.