For the best itineraries on barge trips in France it is hard to look beyond the spectacular Canal du Midi. With a hundred and fifty miles of lovely waterways, the UNESCO heritage site has everything Francophiles could ask for - and probably a whole lot more. |
As well as the charming towns and villages that line its banks, the surrounding landscape also provides a calmness and tranquillity that makes it perfect for barge trips. In France it is recognised for its royal designation, and when you experience the idyllic natural beauty all around you, it will leave you in no doubt as to why.
With over forty thousand trees lining its banks, travelling along the waterway is a fantastic way to relax and enjoy the French landscape. Not only will you experience gorgeous vistas of sunflower fields, vineyards and meadows, it also goes beyond simply enjoying what nature has created for your pleasure. The waterway begins its passage off the Garonne in Toulouse, which is a wonderful city and a great place to experience some of the famous French culture. Along the route you will also be treated to striking cathedrals and country châteaux. Ending up on the Atlantic coast, the overall journey brings some of nature’s most stunning sights together with historic man- made marvels.
A Brief History
Possibly proposed by Leonardo da Vinci, the canal that would link the Mediterranean with the Atlantic was started in the mid-1600s, with construction completed in around fifteen years. The feat is credited with allowing the scope of the industrial revolution to take place in France, and it sternly tested the resolve of the local engineering powers.
For a long time (until the mid 20 th century) the canal was more or less reserved for commercial activity, and although many still make their living on the water, it is now recognised as a touristic experience in itself.
A Luxury Trip
One of the best ways to enjoy the delights of this incredible part of the country is on a luxury hotel barge. As well as being treated to impeccable accommodation and service, guests can enjoy a range of organised shore excursions on bike or foot.
You’ll be able to alight and explore numerous intriguing sites, such as Béziers, one of the oldest cities in the country, Carcassonne, a stunning ancient fortress, or its final destination Sète. There are so many possibilities on barge trips in France that you will feel like a true adventurer - without the hardship of days gone by!
The beautiful waterways of the Canal du Midi provide the perfect backdrop for barge trips in France. The versatility of a voyage on the canal provides holidaymakers with the chance to see the landscape and experience the culture from a number of different perspectives, and there will be something to suit all tastes and desires, both on board and on land.
In order to get the most out of barge trips in France, make sure you book with a reputable operator. Packages exist designed for all tastes and group sizes and it’s a great way to experience the waterways in the way that suits you. Time to get on board!
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge trips in France. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience
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