barging in on france
Originally the Canal du Midi was a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, plus a way to steer clear of hostile pirates on the high seas. Now, over three hundred years after its construction, you can still cruise this World Heritage-listed canal and like Intrepid Express reader Barbara Llayton, enjoy watching France glide by…
“One of my most memorable travel experiences was on board a canal boat in the
South of France. We hopped onto our transport (a.k.a. our accommodation and
our kitchen) and were shown the ropes about how to manoeuvre, start, stop
and navigate the canal boat through the narrow waterways on the Canal du
Midi. It was easy – just point in the right direction, avoid all other boats and watch the world glide by.
Before long we came to our first of many locks which regulate the canal water
levels . There are actually over 100 locks on the canal, as well as over 300 bridges, many dams and tunnels. The canals have countless small ports where we could moor our boat for an excursion on land, and this was our chance to stock up on fresh wild berries, fragrant oils and delicious local produce for dinner, plus of course the wine!
Our journey passed through many small hamlets, farms, vineyards and some larger towns – including one of my favourite highlights in France – Carcassonne. This is a picturesque medieval fortress with a fascinating heroine history.
My canal boat experience was the perfect balance of relaxing on board, cruising by stunning scenery, and enjoying side trips into the villages that make up the rich history, characterise the vibrant culture and capture the scrumptious flavours of France.”