Relaxing on France’s canals is an original way to discover its fantastic gastronomy, scenery, culture and history. Either with a canal boat driver or if you self–drive, this is the ultimate independent way for you to take on the open road, or in this case, the open canal, to explore the truly beautiful region of Canal Du Midi.
We have selected a part of France that is perfect for the slow and easy pace of canal travel. Located in the Languedoc wine region, the Canal du Midi is an ideal place for canal boat holidays. Let your boat take you gently past vineyards in the heart of the Languedoc wine region, where you can enjoy wine tasting, cycling, and sightseeing at medieval villages and ancient fortress cities all the way from Toulouse to the Mediterranean.
From Argens, the Canal du Midi meanders (and this is exactly the right word) through a Mediterranean landscape of vines, cypresses and pine trees with the background music of the song of the cicada. In this environment, further indulge your senses and savour the rich and varied cuisine of succulent dishes and magnificent wines that can be found throughout this region.
One of the must-see cities in this area is the city of Carcassonne, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be sure to climb to the Citadel to see the 52 turrets and double ring of walls of the largest medieval fortress in Europe. The evidence of conquests that have taken place over the last 2000 years is seen throughout the city – wander down any laneway and you will see Roman ruins or relics from the Crusades. The city is accessible in the daytime and at night, and you can visit it on your own, most of it for free. It will be one of your most beautiful memories of canal boating holidays in the area.
The area surrounding Carcassonne, gives a real feel of the south, with fortified towns of white stone and historic villages like Trèbes and Puicheric. Medieval villages, Roman churches, abbeys and isolated monasteries can all be visited from your canal boat. Further east, Narbonne was once the largest city in Roman Gaul; in the city center, the Archbishops’ Palace and the Cathedral are great examples of architectural opulence.
The Canal du Midi is also ideal for cycling breaks. Most canal boats have bicycles on board, so be sure to pull up in a medieval village and cycle to historic sites and vineyards beyond an easy trek from the boat. The towpath is generally flat and often shaded.
Lest we forget about the food – this region is full of eating places that range from casual cafés to gourmet restaurants on the Canal du Midi. Try places like La Raffinerie in Béziers, Carcassonne’s La Marquiere and L’Arbousier in Homps. Also be sure to try the slow-cooked bean and meat cassoulet (casserole), a specialty of Castelnaudary.
The village of Bouzigues is the cradle of the oyster farming on Etang de Thau and the annual production of oysters amounts to 12 000 tons. The famous Bouzigues oyster is a local hollow oyster appreciated by the connoisseurs across Europe. Discover the history of this fishing port at the Museum of Etang de Thau during your cruise, located in the heart of Bouzigues.
A cruise on a canal boat is the perfect way to discover the very essence of Europe - removed from bustling cities, you have the independence to pull up whenever and wherever you want to perhaps sample a local wine, taste test a regional dish or just stop and take in the beautiful countryside.
For more inspiration go to Celebrating The Flavours Of France
For more information on our latest deals to Europe - call Flight Centre 131 600.