Canal du Midi – Corbieres and Cassoulet – Mediterranean and Medieval Castles
Boating Holidays on Canal du Midi. The Canal du Midi links the Mediterranean with the Atlantic and has been a vital goods route for nearly 400 years. Construction started in 1666 and harbours, villages and towns were built on its banks to service this busy traffic. At its height, the canal carried over 100,000 tons of cargo and 1 million people but commerce soon dried up (no pun intended) when the Bordeaux to Sete railway opened in 1857. Today’s boats navigating these waters adopt a much more leisurely pace as it’s mainly used for tourist cruising and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Charming lock keeper houses have been preserved and many are still in use while others have been turned into interesting galleries, restaurants and private homes. The region is well known for it’s sunny climate, delicious regional produce and the Corbieres wines. The canal has plenty of moorings and most of them offer electricity and water for a small charge – or you can choose to moor anywhere you want using the boat’s ropes and spikes.
You have 2 departure bases to choose from
The little marina base of Port Lauragais has a cafe & restaurant and you can get some basic goods from the local shop. For a bigger shop, we recommend the supermarket at Villefranche de Lauragais that’s about a 10 minute drive from the base. Situated halfway between Toulouse and Carcassonne, Port Lauragais is an excellent starting point to discover the many treasures of the canal. As you head east toward the Med, the canal leads through some beautiful landscapes and where you can moor on the marinas and inland harbours of the canal’s many waterside villages and towns. Castelnaudary is known as the home to one of France’s favourite dish of Cassoulet, a delicious meat and bean casserole. The town is an important port on the Canal du Midi and the impressive Grand Bassin area offers plenty of mooring to enjoy the setting and discover the town. The city of Carcassonne has one of the best preserved medieval citadelles and ramparts in the world. Its busy cobbled alleyways and battlements are very popular especially during the summer and school holidays which will be a contrast from the tranquility of the canal. The citadel is easily accessible from the town’s marina (10 mins by bike or 25 mins walk).
Le Somail is about halfway between Carcassonne and Béziers, the longest stretch of canal in France without a lock making it perfect for novice skippers. It’s a great starting point with several routes to choose from. The tree lined mooring has waterside restaurants and the village centre, with all the amenities necessary for you to prepare for your cruise, is within walking distance.
Heading South you join the Canal de la Robine to Narbonne, a town full of art and history whose heritage dates back over 2500 years: Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Golden age of winemaking in the late 19th century. Further along you reach the popular Port- la-Nouvelle leading to the Mediterranean. It’s long sandy beaches are only 2km for the nearest mooring and easily accessible by bike or on foot. When you travel east from Le Somail the canal takes your through the Malpas tunnel, the scale of 7 locks at Fonsérannes as you enter Béziers, Agde the gateway to the Etang de Thau.
One way cruises all the way to Aigues-Mortes are available and take your through the spectacular Camargue. Heading Westward from Le Somail you’ll enjoy cruising through a succession of typical small Minervois villages, scattered among the waterside vineyards, some of which offer wine-tastings. You then continue through Carcassonne known for its famous Citadel dating from the Cathar era. The fortified city is ringed with 2 miles of ramparts with no fewer than 52 towers. You can also choose to have a weeks’ one way cruise on this section of water taking you to the Port-Lauragais base.
Local tourist office
The Canal du Midi has it’s own tourism department – please click this link to visit a useful map of attractions tow-paths and cycle routes to help you prepare your cruise.
A cruise through the canals and inland waterways of France
|Guide Prices for 2023 based on 1 week boat hire|
|Price period||18 Mar – 28 Apr
23 Sep – 05 Nov
|29 Apr – 02 Jun
09 Sep – 22 Sep
|03 Jun – 23 Jun
26 Aug – 08 Sep
|24 Jun – 07 Jul
19 Aug – 25 Aug
|08 Jul – 18 Aug|
|£773pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£922pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£998pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£1083pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£1155pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£536pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£684pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£721pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£781pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£829pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£1006pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£1155pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£1192pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£1251pp (Prt Lauragais)
|£1300pp (Prt Lauragais)
|*Travelling by air||Prices are based on London Gatwick to Toulouse or Montpellier Airport and they include a private transfer on arrival and departure. Other routes from your local airport might also be available – please ask for details.|
|Prices are based on Dover to Calais ferry crossings in a standard size car measuring 1.85 x 5m. Eurotunnel & other ferry routes also available.|
|Prices are based on Standard Class Eurostar service from London to Paris with a connecting fast train service and they include a private transfer on arrival and departure.|
|All prices are a guide. Prices can increase or decrease depending on availability. The prices are based on 2 people with 1 week boat hire – Sedan 800 from Le Somail and Riviera 920 from Port-Lauragais. Other boats and travel options are available please discuss your requirements with our team. We can arrange hotel accommodation before you start or at the end of your boat holiday. Please ask our team for details. Prices can change quickly – you will be quoted the current price at the time of booking. Please visit our special offers page for up to date seasonal discounts.|
Boat Choices - Depending on the size of your group and your preferred boat specification it may be necessary to start from from a specific base.
|Boat Ranges||Le Somail||Port Lauragais|
|Estivale||More Info||Duo | Quattro | Quattro S | Sixto | Sixto Prestige C | Octo | Octo Fly||Duo | Quattro | Sixto | Sixto Prestige C | Octo | Octo Fly C|
|Confort||More Info||900 DP | 1100 | 1350 B | 1350 VIP||900 DP | 1100 | 1350 B|
|Sedan||More Info||800 | 1000 | 1170 | 1310 | Primo||1000 | 1170 | 1310 | Primo|
|Duration||Cruise from Port-Lauragais||KM||Locks||Hours|
|2 Day Weekend||A||Port-Lauragais – Castelnaudary – Port-Lauragais||30||12||8h|
|A||Port-Lauragais – Toulouse – Port-Lauragais||90||28||22h|
|B||Port-Lauragais – Bram – Port-Lauragais||60||46||21h|
|1 Week||A||Port-Lauragais – Carcassonne – Trèbes – Port- Lauragais||136||68||37h|
|A||Port-Lauragais – Carcassonne – Le Somail||116||60||32h|
|Duration||Cruise From Le Somail||KM||Locks||Hours|
|2 Day Weekend||A||Le Somail – Fonsérannes – Le Somail||82||0||11h|
|B||Le Somail – Homps – Le Somail||42||12||10h|
|A||Le Somail – Narbonne – Fonsérannes – Le Somail||111||20||20h|
|B||Le Somail – Port-la-Nouvelle – Le Somail||74||24||15h|
|C||Le Somail – Marseillette – Le Somail||80||34||22h|
|1 Week||A||Le Somail – Trèbes – Le Somail||100||40||26h|
|B||Le Somail – Carcassonne – Le Somail||124||52||33h|
|C||Le Somail – Agde – Le Somail||130||22||23h|
|A||Le Somail – Port-Lauragais||116||60||32h|
|B||Le Somail – Aigues-Mortes||139||15||27h|
- Sailing consumables: this is packaged to include engine fuel and oil, gas for the hot water and stove. On-board equipment monitors usage. This is paid locally and ranges from €5.50 to €12.80 per day depending on boat size.
- Deposit: You will be asked to pay a deposit of €1000 per boat (1500€ for boats over 10m) and €150 to cover the cleaning (200€ for boats over 10m). This deposit covers the insurance, loss of hire and cleaning if required. The deposit is refundable on the return of the boat at the end of your cruise if it is bought back in clean and undamaged to the agreed return location.
- SIXTO GREEN: Sailing consumables includes gas consumed on board (heating, hotplates, oven etc.), the charging of the batteries during
your cruise and maintenance, plus a financial contribution to VNF, the organization responsible for management of the charging terminals.
- Cleaning service: full interior & exterior and interior or exterior.
- Comprehensive waterways guide
- Bicycle hire
- Garage parking
- One way transfers
- Fishing equipment (an obligatory fishing licence costs €25. Please allow 2 or 3 weeks for the application process)
- Deck mattresses
- 12/220v Converter
- Early pick-up & late return
An all inclusive package is available for cruises of one week and longer. It includes:
- Comprehensive waterways guide
- 2 bicycles
- Cleaning package
- Fuel & gas
- Towels & kitchen linen
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To find out more or plan your trip, call us today
+ 44 (0) 1737 452000
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