Located in the South of France and a UNSECO World Heritage Site, the 240 km (150 mi) long Canal du Midi dates back more than 300 years and is steeped in very interesting history, engineering and construction.
Built to develop the wheat trade and connect the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea the waterway was originally named the Canal Royal en Languedoc (Royal Canal in Languedoc). French revolutionaries changed the name to Canal du Midi in 1789 and the canal was, at the time, considered one of the greatest construction works of the 17th century.
Today, the Canal du Midi is one of the oldest canals of Europe still in operation and is defined by its beauty, lined with shady plane trees which often touch to form an arc of green above the water from bank to bank, and crossed by pretty arched bridges. The best way to experience this is on a Luxury Hotel Barge as we skirt the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean before meandering inland through ancient villages, Roman fortifications and famed vineyards. And in the distance you can see the fabulous Pyrenees.
In addition, there are unique towns to visit including Carcassonne. Dating back to the Gallo Roman era, this is the most complete medieval fortified city in existence today. With its 52 watchtowers, portcullis and extraordinary repertoire of defences, it resisted the many armies that tried to storm this Camelot setting. Or Minerve, the ancient capital of the Minervois, which boasts a 12th century Cathar fort surrounded by deep limestone gorges.
As mentioned, the Canal du Midi is very interesting with its engineering and construction. You will experience some of this as your Luxury Hotel Barge crosses the River Orb (by way of an aqueduct – or water bridge). To get to the Aqueduct is an adventure itself as we traverse the seven oval shaped locks that make up the Fonserannes Locks. The Fonserannes Locks are a flight of staircase locks which allow boats to be raised a height of 21.5 metres (71 ft) over a distance of 300 metres (980 ft). We explain how lock work in a separate blog.
No two days are the same as you cruise the Canal du Midi and whether you are out experiencing the towns, castles and vineyards or taking a bicycle ride or walk through the countryside, or simply relaxing on-board, in the hot tub, with your favourite beverage you can craft your own unique holiday experience in the South of France.