Canal barge tour

Jun 4th, 2007, 03:26 PM
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Canal barge tour

Anybody done one of these? We are doing a self-directed tour on the Canal Du Midi in August. Any things to watch out for? Recommendations for places to stop for the night/eat/tour. Do you recommend renting the bikes from them as well? We are defintely doing Carcassonne.
tigerman99515 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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Which part of the Canal du Midi will you be doing ? We've done several barge trips.. I actually have a trip report on one we did on the Canal du Midi - if you'd like to read it, send me an email and I'll forward it to you. [email protected]

Definitely make a stop at Castelnaudary... best cassoulet around at the Hotel du Centre et Lauraguais.
They have a nice docking area for private barge boats within easy walking distance of the town.

The facilities at Carcassonne are near the train station and new part of the town. You'll have to take a bus (or those bikes) up to the old city.

I do recommend taking the bikes. Many of the villages are not right on the canal, so if you want to visit them, you'll need transportation.

PBProvence is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 10:21 PM
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We did the Canal de la Marne in the Alsace-Lorraine area (loved barging) but have stopped at numerous locks along le Canal du Midi to check it out, as we plan do do this next time.

Water is rather murky compared to that elsewhere, but does not have any unpleasant odor or anything. Defintely get the bikes. They are a fun, easy way to get into town for those fresh baked croissant in the morning or to take an after dinner stroll in the countryside.

Besides the usual: gloves for handling the ropes, sunscreen and bug repellant, maybe locks for the bikes?

klondike is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 12:23 PM
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We have done the canal midi twice - once 'uphill' and once 'downhill' We preferred the downhill. We rented from Rive de France (four times now) and have been very happy with them, The last time we flew to Toulouse, a very nice town, and cabbed to start point, which was La Segala. En route, Casltenaudry and carcassone are good places to spend the night and a day or so.

You may well get stuck between towns if your timing is off and the locks are closed.

It will be hot and crowded going throught the locks in August - we have only done these trips in the spring and fall.

Nonethelss, it is a wonderful way to travel - unpack once and take your hotel room with you.

All of the villes have resturants and something interesting to see. Don't miss the cemetary at capestrang. Also, there are wine tastings at vinyards along the way.

If you'd like to see pix, e-mail me and I'll share with Snapfish.
danielb661 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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The towpaths, though hard crushed sand as i remember then are great for riding on to get some exercise and meet the barge farther along the way and to get to towns like others said. But the paths along the canal itself are great for riding - flat.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 05:23 PM
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Thank you all for the great responses! PB, I will email you for the trip report.
We used a booking agent in France and we ended up going through Rive de France, I think it is. Others barge companies looked good as well but the boat we wanted was through the Rive de France folks (it is just the three of us - we begged family and friends to go and they all backed out - ugh!) We were pretty certain to get bikes anyway since wife and son might get antsy as both are active types. Son is excited to be 'throwing lines' and opening locks.
We heard about the 'cassoulet' - it is supposed to be amazing in that area. I don't have the reservations in front of me but I think we are doing Le Segala to Beziers portion (or is it Narbonne?) Anyway, we have 10 days so we should be able to cover that distance confortably.
Doing the Canal du Midi because it was recommended to us - we have an 11 year old boy and 'castles' and 'forts' are a must.
Gloves, suncream, bug dope, hats - all good suggestions.
We are planning on taking minimal amount of clothes figuring we can stop at laundramats as necessary - is that a resonable expectation?
Will my PDA work there or is that something I should just leave at home?
Anything else that anyone can suggest would be much appreciated!
Anybody recall any good, local wines in that area?
Also, I understand that Thomas Jefferson wrote and commented on the Canal when he was in France - anybody have any insight on that?
tigerman99515 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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"A green ribbon of water, winding along vineyards and medieval villages, the Canal du Midi is one of France's most peaceful and picturesque waterways."

"I dismounted my carriage from its wheels, placed it on the deck of a light bark, and was thus
towed on the canal [du Midi] instead of on the post Road... Of all the methods of traveling I have
ever tried this is the pleasantest... You should not think of returning to America without taking the
tour I have taken".

Thomas Jefferson's Journal (1787)

danielb661 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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Suggest you add a small pair of binoculars to your kit, if you have room. They come in handy for seeing if the lock ahead is full or empty, for seeing the control lights, etc.

There will probably be some sort of chart provided aboard, but we have found that the Navicarte series have been most helpful. The one you would want would be "Navicarte #11, Canaux du Midi: de l'Atlantique a la Mediterranee, la Baise." Has a lot of detail that some others lack.

You will love barging! Have a wonderful trip!

nukesafe is offline  
Jun 8th, 2007, 11:47 AM
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Sorry, I should have posted a link to those charts, since I recommended them. You can get them from many sources, but here is one:

nukesafe is offline  
Jun 9th, 2007, 01:41 PM
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Oh, just thought of something else - very important (well, for us anyway): bring along one of those (camping-syle)collapsable plastic containers for getting wine from the local wine vendors.

If I remember it's something like "en Vrac". They just fill your jug with the selected wine and off you go - and it's bargain prices. Smaller is better IMO so you can bring a couple and get a selection.

Also, little trinkets to give to the lock man/woman is appreciated. We have picinic corkscrews with our state name/map, magnets,etc.

Just a heads up - if you hear a horn honking when you're tied up, be sure to check it's often the mobile vendor selling meats, cheeses, and/or breads. But he doesn't stay long; you've got to show interest right away.
klondike is offline  
Jun 10th, 2007, 08:05 AM
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There's a 'cave' on the way into town in Castlenaudry - we just brought empty evian bottles for a fill up.
danielb661 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 09:19 AM
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You guys are GREAT!
Daniel - I was waiting to see if anybody 'bit' on my TJ reference - thank you!
Nuke - binocs - great idea. And thanks for the chart site - we will get the one you suggest for our area. We bought a loose leaf binder typr book written by a couple who barged through the Canal Du Midi a few years ago - it's fairly detailed with good suggestions as to what is available in different locales. Klondike - (we must be cousins - I am here in Alaska) great idea about the trinkets and collapsible water containers for wine.
We feel much better prepared now!
tigerman99515 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2009, 05:42 PM
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In 2001 we did this cruise

we absolutely loved it. so much that this fall we are doing

this is a different and fun way to see the country.
jetsetj is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 07:37 AM
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I realize this thread is old, but it is what came up in Search. Does anyone have anything to add about barge tours? I don't think we are interested in the LeBoat self-drive, but a crewed charter. I did see one that had breakfast and lunch aboard but dinner at various restaurants along the way. Any recommendations on which canal or boat? Just kicking this idea around and seeking opinions. Thanks!
eastenderusvi is online now  
Jun 29th, 2013, 07:46 AM
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1) there is a large barge that offers B&B and evening meal on the canal, very posh
2) self drive is pretty easy, hire a bike and either eat in near by restaurants or call up restaurants (they stick signs on the canal) to pick you up and bring you back
3) all the boats empty their loos into the canal. DO NOT fall in and inhale
bilboburgler is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 08:04 AM
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And because of 3) above, I would like to repeat the earlier suggestion of gloves (waterproof), for handling lines that get wet during lock transits, etc.

Of course, if you are on a hotel barge or crewed charter, you won't be needing them.
MaineGG is online now  
Jun 29th, 2013, 01:20 PM
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Dear bilbo: Do you know the posh barge's name?? I understand that the self-drive is easy, but from having a boat, I know it is nice not to have the responsibility of driving, especially in a country where your linguistic ability may come up short.
eastenderusvi is online now  
Jun 30th, 2013, 12:46 AM
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One of the biggest factors in deciding between a self drive boat or a hotel barge is cost. There are number of companies renting self drive boats, and language should not be a concern. French law requires that a special license to captain a motorized boat on inland waterways but rental boat routes are specially approved for non license use. These routes do not require any special knowledge, other than common sense, and may be easily traveled by anyone. A complete list of companies offering no license required rental services along the Canal du Midi (or anywhere in France), check this link:

There are a number of consolidators listing hotel barges but I usually refer to this company (there are others):
Sarastro is online now  
Jun 30th, 2013, 05:43 PM
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Sarastro: I meant language in the context of something going wrong and someone yelling. I actually had this happen in Florence many years ago and am sensitive.

Also I am thinking of Canal du Nivernais or Bourgogne, in case that makes a difference. Although I am still in the process of researching...
eastenderusvi is online now  
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