Cruise down France’s Canal du Midi at a relaxed pace

Enjoy a relaxing, peaceful slice of French life on this comfortable journey down the Canal du Midi in the Aude Valley, wedged between the Pyrenees, the Black Mountains and the Mediterranean. Take your time, choose your pace and stops, and linger or move forward as you like through scenic France. From Castelnaudary trace the ancient route of wine merchants south-east, past idyllic medieval villages, the picture-perfect castle town of Carcassonne and the famous vineyards of Languedoc-Roussillon wine country. Begin days with a croissant from a local bakery and finish them dining al fresco on the deck of the boat. Drift by castles and churches, hundred-year-old plane trees that cascade over the canal and watch locals challenge each other at petanque. Enjoy the freedom to hop off and explore at anytime – perhaps to cycle around ancient ruins and medieval cities – but with a leader always on hand to help with the boat and guide you in local sightseeing and optional activities. Moor along the canal or in little marinas and gorge yourself on the incredible range of gastronomic delights – not least all the wine and cheese from local markets and vineyards. This laidback trip is the perfect way to explore the south of France.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Castelnaudary, France
Finish
Homps, France
Country
France
Style
Original
Theme
Sailing
Code
ASSB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 3, Max 8

Why we love this trip

  • Travel down the 300-year-old Canal du Midi aboard a comfortable, fully-equipped boat, stopping off to explore quaint villages, antique churches and rustic farm houses. This unique cruise allows you to set your own pace and itinerary, selecting from a number of delectable destinations. The hard part is choosing...

  • Enjoy a guided tour through the Cite de Carcassonne, the largest fortified medieval city in Europe. Visit a family-run vineyard in Minervois, where you'll learn about centuries-old farming practices and taste the local tipple

  • Cycle, hike and stroll through scenic countryside, mingle with friendly locals and dine on provincial French cuisine in charming country restaurants. C'est la belle vie

  • Where better to experience life in the slow lane than in the countryside of southern France? Cruise down the canal at walking speed (quite literally the speed at which the canal boats are allowed to travel)

  • Be the captain of your own boat. You'll have plenty of opportunity to steer the vessel, with your skipper always at your side

Is this trip right for you?

  • Although we don't ask travellers to complete a Physical Participation Form for this trip, we do ask that you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is right for you. You’ll need to feel comfortable with moving about the boat and leaving and re-boarding the vessel when you make landings. The cabins and communal areas of the boat are spread over two decks, and the steps between the decks are steep. Your trusty crew will always be on hand to assist you.

  • While on the water and exploring the surrounding countryside, you may be exposed to the sun for large parts of the day. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water.

  • While the itinerary features included visits to Carcassone and Minervois, the rest of the trip is designed to be flexible. The group will be in charge of setting the pace and deciding where to stop from a selection of quaint villages and historic towns. You'll even have the opportunity to steer the boat yourself, with your skipper always at hand. A sense of humour and flexibility will ensure you have a fun, relaxing trip through this beautiful part of the world.

  • This is provincial southern France, and most of the destinations you'll visit are quiet country towns. The boat will ease down the canal at walking pace, as this is the law. This is a great opportunity to really slow down and embrace peaceful country life for the week.

  • We want you to have fun, but please show respect for your shipmates by not smoking on-board and being aware that others might not want to party every night until 3 am. If you do want to enjoy a late night out, it’s probably a good idea to book into a hostel for that evening so you don’t wake your fellow travellers (and more importantly the skipper) on your return.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2017 to 30 September 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Welcome to canal boating - Intrepid style. The new Canal du Midi trips provide hassle free, by the berth options, so whether you're within a group or an individual this is the perfect trip for you. A leader will accompany you for the duration of the trip, and will be on hand to operate the boat or lend a hand if you decide to get behind the wheel. Your leader will also facilitate your visit to the medieval citadel of Carcassonne, local sightseeing and activities, and a tasting at a winery. The trip commences promptly at 3 pm on Day 1. On arrival at the base you will meet your leader and fellow travellers, before receiving a comprehensive briefing from our base manager. Then you’ll be taken out onto the water for a hands-on cruising demonstration. You'll be shown how to drive the boat safely and responsibly, how to navigate through canal locks and where possible, how to manoeuvre the boat for mooring. It’s vital that you feel confident before setting off, but please be reassured that your leader will be with you at all times. Itineraries operate from Castelnaudary to Homps and Homps to Castelnaudary. The itineraries are paced so that you'll reach your end destination in eight days, but in a relaxed and timely manner. While some activities are included, you will also have plenty of opportunity to participate in optional activities or go off on your own for a couple of hours. Tonight you'll spend the night in Castelnaudary. Your leader can take you to a local restaurant where you can experience the local speciality of Cassoulet – a slow cooked casserole usually containing pork, duck or goose, pork skin, and where custom dictates that the dish must be made with local beans and cooked in a baker’s oven in a local earthenware pot.

Notes: Your boat comes fully equipped with bed linen (including bath towels), crockery and cutlery, as well as bicycles, Wi-Fi access and a BBQ and lantern for the top deck. We’ve also included a food starter pack as part of your trip. This should see you through a few breakfasts, and morning and afternoon teas (for a full list of provisions, please refer to ‘meal descriptions’ in the trip notes below). If you or a friend are celebrating a birthday or special occasion on-board, we can also organise for a basket of goodies and local specialities to be delivered at an extra cost.
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After a deck-top breakfast on the morning of Day 2, visit the local boulangerie (bakery) for a fresh coffee and to stock up on baguettes for lunch. Then it's time to set sail down the Canal du Midi. The beauty of this trip is the freedom to explore at your own pace. Stop, get off and investigate the passing towns as much or as little as you like. The Canal du Midi offers a mix of famous historical sites and lesser known gems just waiting to be discovered. It's also home to a range of gastronomic delights, local markets and the world’s largest wine-producing region (Languedoc-Roussillon). Cruise towards the Mediterranean Sea and soak up the sights of scenic France. While there are planned visits to Carcassonne and Minervois, over the next week you'll also have the choice to visit a number of the following destinations:

Villepinte
Villepinte is a small, charming village. Perhaps visit the 14th-century church, or simply relax downtown in one of the good restaurants. You can use your bike to ride along the banks of the canal.

Bram
Surrounded by a vineyard and built in a concentric circle around the town church, the village of Bram is in the heart of Cathar country. Look out for the ruins of many castles on the surrounding hilltops.

Villesequelande
Check out Villesequelande's parish abbey, which is classified as an historic monument. What is particularly iconic to Villesèquelande, however, is the tree planted in front of the church. This huge old elm is one of the last of its kind in France.

Carcassonne
Make an included visit to the Cite de Carcassonne, the biggest and most beautiful medieval construction in Europe. This World Heritage-listed fortress is the second most visited tourist site in France after the Eiffel Tower. Occupation of the town dates back to the 6th century BC. The group will have the choice to catch the local bus, walk or ride bikes into the city, where your leader will conduct a guided tour of the memorable fairy-tale castle and ramparts, crossing the medieval stone-arched bridge and navigating the cobbled streets that form a spider’s web through the town. Entrance to the Chateau Comtal (the castle within the citadel) is also included. There will be time to grab some lunch before heading back to the boat and continue on our journey.

Trèbes
Further along the canal is the welcoming town of Trèbes. Moor here and soak up the atmosphere in a cafe, explore the town, browse the gourmet and craft night market that lines the canal, or visit the church Saint-Etienne, built in the 14th century.

Marseillette
Perhaps visit the peaceful village of Marseillette, where you can take a wander among the surrounding vineyards and lush, green countryside, and taste the local drop.

Puicheric
Surrounded by verdant vegetation, Puicheric is a charming village notable for its 14th-century square-towered church.

La Redorte
Pass over the unique Argent-Double Aqueduct and moor in the leafy town of La Redorte. Take a walk along one of the numerous trails around town, indulge in some provincial cuisine or relax with a book at one of the town's restaurants or cafes.

Minervois
A visit to the quaint town of Argens-Minervois is the second planned stop on the itinerary. The village is clustered around a 14th-century chateau and overlooks the canal and the river Aude. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the town, which is typical to the Minervois region. Then head to one of the vineyards that line the canal in every direction – at an independent family-run winery you'll see how they practise centuries old vintner traditions, and understand why the region's wine so famous with a taste of the final product.

Homps
Your final destination is the sunny village of Homps. Take a stroll through through the flower-lined streets or visit the town's 11th-century Romanesque chapel. The town is adjacent to the Lac de Jouarres where you might like to spend an afternoon sunbathing on the pebble beach and swimming in the lake.
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (6 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today your Canal du Midi adventure comes to an end in Homps. Bid farewell to your leader and fellow travellers and disembark the boat by 9 am. From here you are free to continue on your way.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Bicycle, boat, private vehicle

Accommodation

Overnight boat (7 nights)

Dates & availability

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Essential trip information

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Reviews

Our The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps) trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 4 reviews in the last year.

The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps), June 2017

Keith Green

The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps), June 2017

Kate Green