You’ve always dreamed of a boat trip, but the sea with its unpredictability and big waves gives you sweats? Then how about a relaxing canal boat tour along the Canal du Midi?
La vie est belle!
Imagine you are sitting on the deck of a canal boat in the South of France, the sun is shining on your face, a pleasant warmth is spreading across you’re body. To your left and right, the path is lined with plane trees, cypresses and poplars. The scent of summer is in the air. From time to time you pass small villages. There you buy a fresh baguette and some cheese, which you enjoy in the evening below deck together with friends.
- Le Somail
- Hombs (Lac de Jouarres)
- Port Lauragais
Culture meets Canal Boat
The “Canal of the South” stretches 240 kilometers through picturesque southern France. From Toulouse to Sète, a waterway opens up that has more to offer than the connection to the Mediterranean Sea. Historic cities such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Caracassonne or Narbonne, formerly the capital of southern Gaul, make culture-loving hearts beat faster. The impressive Fonséranes lock staircase in Béziers is unique in France. It was renovated in 2017 and is one of the must sees on the Canal du Midi. Because of the pleasantly mild climate of the mediteranean sea, canal boat vacations are possible almost all year round. In July and August you can expect temperatures of 20-30 degrees. Rain is a rarity, a maximum of five rainy days per month between June and September only.
Let the journey begin
Already enchanted? Then get on board now and travel the Canal du Midi with us by canal boat. We start our trip in Le Somail. There we stroll with a scoop of ice cream from the historical ice house, which is operated since 1684 in the direction of the hat museum “Musée de la Chapellerie du Somail”. Afterwards we make a quick stop at the book antiquarian shop before heading back on deck. We sail along the canal until we dock at the village of Ventenac-en-Minervois. There is a charming wine cellar in a castle that looks like a cathedral. There is no better place to experience the French way of life. We stock up on enough wine for a pleasant evening on the boat. France is not least known for its lively art scene. Therefore, the next stop at the art gallery “Le Clap” in Paraza is essential.
Canal du Midi’s history
An older gentleman with a béret tells us about the history of the Canal du Midi: The tax official Pierre-Paul Riquet had set his mind on building a canal through Languedoc. After intensive self-study and many setbacks, in 1666 King Louis XIV gave Riquet green light for the construction work. The civil servant dedicated his life to the Canal Royal en Languedoc, as it was initially called. It was not until the French Revolution that the canal passed from private ownership of the Riquet family to state ownership. For the economy, the construction was a stroke of genius. It was only with the advent of the highways that its importance for the transport of goods became insignificant. Since the 1970s, the canal is now used for sports and canal boat trips.
Want a break from driving the canal boat?
We continue our imaginary canal boat tour until we pass the circular village of Roubia. There you can visit the oil mill “Moulin à huile de la Restanque”. Renting a canal boat in France does not mean sightseeing only. After all this cultural sightseeing, it’s time for a little cooling down. On the way to Homps we pass Argens-Mivervois, if you like to visit castles, you should definitely have a look at this one from the 14th century. In Homps we leave our rental boat and cycle to the lake “Lac de Jouarres”. This is the perfect place for a jump into the cool water. Water sports enthusiasts also get their money’s worth here. We decide to kite surf for a while before we cycle back to the canal boat. At the port of Carcassonne, our canal boat navigation skills are put to the test. We master the docking and go on an exploration tour through the old town. Our last stop is Port Lauragais. There we return the rented canal boat and visit the nearby town of Avignonet-Lauragais with its restored water mill.
Good to know
Do you feel like renting a canal boat right away? Then we have good news. A special driving license is not necessary. The advantage of a canal boat is that it is very easy to drive, so even beginners can get from A to B without any problems. But be careful, even if there is no special boat licence needed, there are still traffic rules on the water. Speeders should better stay on the road, with the allowed 8 km/h relaxation is on the agenda. Still unsure? Our local partners will be happy to answer any of your questions and give you a detailed introduction to the handling. There are boats for two to eight adults with extra space for two children each. So fun for the whole family or with friends is guaranteed.
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