The Path Less Trodden: Explore the Canal Du Midi
The best road trip in France isn’t on a road– it’s on water, through Canal Du Midi barge holidays in France. Here’s what to expect.
For those who want to experience France unlike any other way, the best road trip ever doesn't involve a highway – it’s via a waterway, on barge holidays in France.
Barge holidays in France are gaining popularity, as they offer a wonderful, unique experience that’s as far away from a cliché as you can get. In fact, they are becoming so popular that the number of options can be cause for confusion. If you’re looking for a place to start, however, start at the Canal Du Midi. Here's what you can expect to see and experience.
About the Canal Du Midi
Running for 241 kilometres, the main canal goes 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 barge holidays in France, particularly for those interested in the wine region of Languedoc.
Wine tours aren’t the only attractions the Canal du Midi has to offer, however; there are also wonderful historical and cultural attractions, from stunning cathedrals, to old villages, ancient ruins and, of course, museums and galleries.
A town in Languedoc that’s a must-see stop on barge holidays in France is Carcassone. 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 Carcassone, however, is its citadel-like walled city and castle over the river - its drawbridges, towers and cobbled streets give it a truly medieval feel. Not as bustling as many of the more modern cities, it has a slow, relaxed ambience and it's a perfect first stop on a relaxed cruise on the Canal Du Midi.
Narbonne and Capestang
Narbonne is another Languedoc-Roussillon stop you will enjoy, especially if you’re looking for something slow and relaxing. Not as grand as Carcassone, it is, however, a great place to spend a day on shore just wandering around - with no pressure to see all the sights. Capestang, another charming little village, is where you will find the Castle of the Archbishop of Narbonne, as well as the Collegiate of St. Stephen, both marvellous examples of architecture and art.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways. We can provide you with luxury, all-inclusive barge holidays in France to enjoy the sights of the country's most picturesque waterways. Cruises are also offered in Holland, Italy and the UK.