What if for the next vacation, we opted for an experience that slows down time and takes advantage of the elements that surround us? This is not a trip by car, train or bicycle, but aboard a boat! River cruises are attracting more and more families and groups of friends, who have come to taste the joys of life on board. If river tourism is possible in various regions of France, one place stands out in particular: the unmissable Canal du Midi. With its beautiful natural landscapes, its historic villages that enhance the route and its generous sunshine all year round, the work of Pierre-Paul Riquet is the ideal place to experience a most pleasant break.
The Canal du Midi, many treasures
With its 360 km and 328 structures made up of locks, bridges, tunnels and aqueducts, the Canal du Midi is an incredible place to discover part of the south of France from the water. Since 1996, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Choosing to rent a boat on the Canal du Midi, it is to give oneself the opportunity to practice slow tourism, one that leads vacationers to appreciate the elements that make up the landscapes, from vineyards to black mountains and medieval towns revealing a rich historical heritage. Along the route, the plane trees, cypresses and umbrella pines offer natural shelters to enjoy a picnic made with good local products. The cruise also allows you to embark the bikes and to go here and there to explore the territories. For example, you can reach a body of water or even a beach, and thus enjoy a few moments of swimming and lazing in the sun.
The advantage with the Canal du Midi is that you can choose your direction. So, heading east and south, we discover in turn the impressive Malpas tunnel and its 173 meters long, then we stop at Castelnaudary to taste a delicious cassoulet. Then come the 9 locks of Fonsérannes, unique with a length of 312 meters and a drop of 21.5 meters, and also classified as Historical Monuments. We can continue with the Aigues-Mortes and the discovery of the medieval old town. Chapels, ramparts, the place is simply marvelous. In the surroundings, a getaway in the Camargue Ardoise is also an opportunity to observe the flora and fauna, and to marvel at the beautiful natural landscapes. Heading south along the Canal du Midi also means giving yourself the opportunity to end a trip with your feet in the water, on the shores of the Mediterranean. We can start by making a stopover in Narbonne, before taking advantage of the clear and soft waters of the big blue for swimming.
On the Canal du Midi, you can also head west, towards Toulouse. We then pass through the Thau lagoon and its incredible biodiversity, before taking a break in the city of Carcassonne. Its castle, its ramparts and its gourmet addresses always leave sweet memories. And if the desire is there, why not continue beyond Toulouse, and take the Canal de Garonne towards Bordeaux? Here too, superb stages around nature, architecture and wine-growing await sailors.
A most peaceful life on board
Sailing on the Canal du Midi means having the chance to board a boat that you can pilot without a license. River cruises are therefore aimed at all audiences. You can go as a couple, with children, with a group of friends and even up to 12 people! On board, all the comforts are there to have a pleasant trip: comfortable beds, an equipped kitchen area, and depending on the boat, garden furniture with a covered terrace, a space to relax located at the front of the boat. and even a swimming pool to cool off and please the little ones.
We travel comfortably, at a pace conducive to relaxation and observation. Life on board means taking the time to contemplate the details of the landscapes, sit in the sun to read a book or doze off, and then prepare a few good meals to share, based on the best regional products harvested on the markets. Everyone is a real sailor on the boat and enjoys participating in life on board.
Clearly, a river cruise on the Canal du Midi is an atypical vacation, rich in anecdotes, discovering landscapes and heritage, but also a great opportunity to make friendly encounters with other cruise passengers.