Settle down with a cheese board, a glass of your favourite red and discover the true meaning of 'joie de vivre'.
Life doesn’t get much better than leisurely cruising the countryside, drifting past sleepy hamlets while sampling some of the best cheese southern France has to offer. What river boating lacks in crystal clear waters and sandy beaches, it more than makes up for in delicious excursions – cycling through vineyards for a taste at the cellar door, loading up on croissants at the village bakery, and browsing fresh produce at farmers markets. Then there’s the history, Carcassonne’s legendary fortified city, monasteries where monks have crafted wine for centuries and the ruined remains of Castle Decize. Pick up a glass and join us - this is life in the slow lane, Intrepid-style.
Our River Boating trips
8 Days From $1,368
8 Days From $1,955
8 Days From $1,759
8 Days From $1,955
Why choose River Boating
Highlights of River Boating
Sancerre’s greatest claim to fame is its number one export: sauvignon blanc. The region’s success comes down to the bed of chalk that runs beneath it, making it the perfect site for viticulture. Learn about Sancerre’s proud wine making traditions while visiting local cellar doors, and even a goat cheese farm.
Is there anything more quintessentially French than a morning bike ride to the boulangerie to pick up some fresh baguettes? Load up on croissants, eclairs and more, then ride along the canal back to your boat (or stop along the way and enjoy a guilty picnic on the banks).
Wander the historic city of Carcassonne
The second most visited tourist site in all of France (the first being the Eiffel Tower) has a history dating all the way back to the 6th Century BC, with just about every stone bridge, cobbled lane and fairy-tale castle having a story to share. Choose to walk these ancient streets or jump on a bike and race to the city’s enticing fromageries.
Spend one of the most relaxing weeks of your life cruising aboard the Grand Classique. Built for comfort and ease of operation (with a top speed of 15 kilometres/9 miles), the vessel is fitted with four twin/double cabins, a fully operational kitchen, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and sundeck – the perfect viewpoint for watching the French countryside drifty on by.
Yes, all of our trips will be accompanied by a leader. They’ll be on hand to operate the boat (and encourage you to give it a go) and give you helpful information about the towns you’ll be travelling through. Our leaders are just as helpful off the boat, too. They’ll take you on walking or cycling tours of the towns and villages at each destination and can recommend local cafes, restaurants and bars to visit.
No. The beauty of travelling with Intrepid is that you can purchase this trip by the berth. This means you can be a single traveller, a couple or a group of friends and you will still pay a per person price. If you are a group of friends and would like to charter the entire boat for your own private use, get in touch with our Private Groups team.
You do not need any previous boating experience to take part in a river boating trip. On arrival, you’ll get an in-depth briefing on the specifics of your boat so you can cruise in confidence. Your leader will also be on hand and, if needed, we have additional staff on standby who can make their way to the boat.
In short, yes. The boat will be travelling along the Canal du Midi and the Canal Lateral a la Loire and we will encounter locks along the way. Locks are used to raise or lower boats in the canals as they pass through different elevations. Each time we enter a lock, we’ll need one traveller at the bow and one at the stern to hold ropes that guide the boat into and out of the lock, along with one person (usually the leader) behind the wheel. This is by no means strenuous work and is a unique feature of river boating, so we encourage all travellers to participate.
The locks are usually in operation from 9am to 5pm and closed for an hour at lunch. The route planner will give you distances between locks and their opening hours so you can plan your journey. On most days we will manoeuvre the boat so we can be one of the first boats through the lock at 9am. This means you can have a leisurely breakfast or go for a ride or walk before we set off each day.
Of course you can, that’s half the fun of river boating. The boat has a maximum speed of 15 km/hr on rivers and 6 to 8 km/hr on canals, so the boat is not moving at high speed. The steering wheel is located on the sundeck, with another wheel on the main deck for those rare days we encounter rain. There are only three controls: forward, reverse and neutral, and two buttons, a left and right, to control the thruster.
No. Included in the cost of the trip is Collision Damage Waiver insurance. All you need to do is nominate yourself (alongside other travellers) during the boat briefing as wanting to operate the boat and your details will be taken down and you will be covered by our insurance.
You don’t need to be an athlete however you will need to be able to be comfortable moving around the boat. You will also need to be able to embark and disembark, to pick up a rope and secure it to a bollard, and hold on to it as we pass through a lock.
Walking and bike tracks follow both canals for the most part and, if you feel like being active, you can take one of the included onboard bikes for a ride and head into one of the village markets. Another option is to take a leisurely walk each morning before the boat sets sail for the day.
No. If you’re happy to share a cabin with a traveller of the same gender then you only pay the twin share price. When booking, your sales agent will check the gender mix on the boat before a confirmation is made. If you do not identify with the gender on your passport and would like us to take this into account when allocating cabins, please tell your sales agent at the time of booking or get in touch with our team.
Yes. A single supplement can be requested at the time of booking. The cost of the single supplement is twice the cabin cost, however you do not pay twice for the included activities.
A ‘starter pack’ is included on each trip. The starter pack includes staples such as croissants, baguettes/bread, milk, butter, jam, sugar, tea, coffee, milk, juice, snacks, olive oil, wine, beer, soft drink, water and juice [see the Essential Trip Information for the complete list].
The starter pack is enough to cover your first breakfast, morning and afternoon snacks, and a sunset drink on the first night. After the operational briefing the leader will take you to a local deli and supermarket to buy more supplies.
One option for covering meals that aren’t included in your trip is for the group to contribute to a kitty on the first day of the trip (approximately EU 25-30, or US 30-35, per person) that can be managed by the group or designated individual. This can be used to purchase food at supermarkets or pay for the group’s meal at a restaurant. For evening meals, the leader will recommend local restaurants and pre-book them if needed. The boat also comes with a fully equipped kitchen and BBQ if you’d prefer to stay onboard and enjoy a meal on deck instead.
If you have any allergies or special dietary requirements, please advise at the time of booking.
We have included activities and meals in our itineraries but you can always choose not to participate. If you wish to visit a town which isn’t included, our itinerary is flexible enough to try and accommodate your requests. Just speak to your leader and we’ll do our best to make it happen.
Yes. Both are generated by the boat’s motor and you’ll be able to enjoy a hot shower at the end of the day. A number of bases also have shower and toilet facilities that are either free or available at a small fee. The onboard voltage is 220v.
Our trips include all linen, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans. WiFi is also available onboard and you’ll be able to play music by plugging your phone into the radio using a phone/MP3 jack or USB connection.
If you're having a significant birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, we can pre-order a special basket to help you celebrate. Beautifully presented, each gift basket comes brimming with local delicacies and specialty products from the region. Prices begin from approximately EU 90 (US 97). To find out more about gift baskets, please contact our staff.
This was an excellent holiday. You could make it as relaxing or physical as you like ( with walks, bike rides and helping with the boat going through locks). The scenery was superb and gave us a good chance to get to know that small part of the world.
Review submitted 02 Jul 2018
Julie and Michael Kavanagh
As we were told that Intrepid is no longer running the tour, we feel very sad. It was an excellent choice for our age group and physical ability. We particularly liked the group size of five plus tour leader. More people would have been too difficult in that size boat. We have talked to many people about this trip and so many of them have expressed interest in this or similar canal tours. Andrea was a fantastic tour leader and helped make our tour not only enjoyable but fantastic.
Review submitted 21 Jun 2018
Eke Van der Zee
This trip was unique in being a part of the crew on the boat. It was not the relaxing holiday that I had expected. I did enjoy the process of being part of the travelling itself.
Review submitted 21 Jun 2018
Great trip involving lots of activity allowing you to really experience a beautiful part of the world without the usual packing up to move on. You really live the experience.
Review submitted 20 Jun 2018
Our Intrepid trip on the Canal du Midi exceeded all our expectations - a magical experience drifting slowly down the canal beneath shady trees, exploring local villages and food opportunities, in a well appointed boat that has everything needed to make the journey comfortable. We loved assisting getting out boat through the locks, meeting other canal travellers and interacting with locals. Our skipper, Oliver Tomlins, was outstanding - if you're booking, ask if Ollie is the tour leader, I promise you won't be disappointed! If you've ever considered this type of holiday, I thoroughly recommend this one (provided Ollie is your captain.)
Review submitted 16 Jun 2018
I would recommend Intrepid’s Canal du Midi for those who would like to enjoy life in the slow lane in a bucolic part of southwestern France with birds chirping in the bacground and historic sites and cafes to visit nearby
Review submitted 15 Jun 2018
My first experience with Intrepid made me feel like I’d found the ideal arrangement for safe, well researched solo travel. Our guide was tops in every way.
Review submitted 15 Jun 2018
A fun and enjoyable way to see the French countryside at a slower pace. Somewhat more physical than expected helping with the locks and living in close quarters to each other. Need to be a team player in all aspects of the tour but still really fun.
Review submitted 13 Jun 2018
A trip with a difference! Enjoyed the immersion in the French culture and beautiful countryside, lots of fun travelling with like minded people. Helping with the locks and general boat duties was a fantastic and memorable experience. Wonderful group leader. A good trip, at a slow pace, to enjoy after a typical busy sightseeing tour. Highly recommended.
Review submitted 13 Jun 2018
Can't recommend Intrepid highly enough. I usually travel solo (my preference!) and every trip sees the participants all getting along very well together. I guess that is because Intrepid travelers are of like minds. Leaders are always full of enthusiasm and their local knowledge is what appeals to me. I travel to get involved in local cultures and customs and the Leaders' insights are perfect for this.
Review submitted 04 Dec 2017
The Canal du Midi (Castelnaudary to Homps), September 2017
I really recommend this trip it was a great way to experience the counrty side of France, it was a good balance of activities and free time
Review submitted 24 Oct 2017
The Canal du Midi (Homps to Castelnaudary), September 2017
LAWRENCE GI BBS
Canal cruising is the most relaxing holiday possible. Everybody at the locks were friendly and sharing the fun of navigating the 60 locks on the trip. Get Nestor to stop at the "Kiwi BBQ" site and enjoy the quiet countryside whilst the sun set. A highlight !!!
Review submitted 30 Sep 2017
this trip is for the adventurist , it's hands on , great fun and relaxing. Motoring down the canal at a maximum of 8 km and hour watching the countryside pass by is superb.
Review submitted 24 Jul 2017
Please read all trip notes. This is very important. Note what is not included eg if you will have to cook, provide meals, how much physical activity is required etc
Review submitted 23 Jul 2017
This is a food trip for people who want to experience southern France at a more leisurely pace than the typical group travel tour. Freshly baked baguettes, croissants, pain au chocolate, eclairs, tarte tatin made from whatever local fruit is in season and plenty of french butter to smear on everything (what is it about french butter that makes it so good?) Cheese, wine, charcuterie (foie gras anyone?), cassoulet, oysters . . . etc. The pacing was perfect in that it allowed for exploring on your own, with the group, or simply relaxing on the boat and assisting your tour leader to navigate canal lockes that were the main trade routes of the 17th century and are still functioning today. The citadel of Carcassone is one of the finest examples of medieval castles still standing in Europe but don't worry, this isn't one of those trips where you are sprinting from castle to castle and monastery to monastery. There is just enough history to keep it interesting without overdoing it. Picture floating underneath medieval stone bridges and perfectly manicured 100 year old trees with castles and monasteries for scenery. Smearing foie gras on a fresh baguette on the rooftop deck of the boat and making sure you have enough sun cream to avoid sunburn. Not your typical organized group trip.
Review submitted 27 Jun 2017
This trip is the perfect mix of travel and relaxation. The boat is a fun home base that allows you to sight see while sailing gently down the canal. The included activities are spaced so that you can have the maximum flexibility in tailoring the trip to your interests. Meeting locals, tasting wine, and enjoying French food all while spending a good portion of the day simply taking in the surroundings from the boat was spectacular. The close quarters on board mean that you really get to know your fellow travelers - sharing meals, cleaning up, and making decisions on what to see communally. The slow pace enhances the way you experience the region and the frequent stops, locks, and moorings allow for just enough activity to feel productive during the days spent lounging on board. One of the most relaxing group trips I've been on!
Review submitted 27 Jun 2017
If you love boats, dream of canals and living on board unfairly confined quarters with other adventurers, this is for You! Requires a moderate degree of fitness to manage the steps inside the boat and getting on and off. Be prepared and willing to have the thrill of being the crew whilst watching the locals in action. Enjoy the shadows of the trees lining the bank across the water, strolling along the canal and through small villages.... It is very relaxing, enjoyable and inspiring way to spend time in the slow lane.
Review submitted 12 Jun 2017
The boat trip from Castelnaudary to Homps was great fun, but take care not to take large hard suitcases as if the trip is full soft backpacks are easier for handling on the boat given the limited space in the rooms on the boat. Do research before you come so ideas may be incorporated into the program.
Review submitted 12 Jun 2017
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