Social Distancing Holidays

Cruise the Canal du Midi from Castelnaudary to Homps

In partnership with Le Boat

45 locks, 19 hrs 45 minutes of cruising

Savour the slow easy pace of travel, past lush vineyards as you discover the Canal du Midi from the unique perspective of your self-drive cruiser. Everything you need for a comfortable stay is on board – fully equipped kitchens, hot showers and comfortable cabins.

What better way to relax, slow down and rejuvenate for a little bit. You’ll love being free from itineraries and deadlines with the freedom to stop where you want, when you want for as long as you want. Here’s a suggested itinerary for your 7 night boating holiday on the Canal du Midi.

Day 1: Arrive in Castelnaudary

0 locks / 0hrs of cruising

Arrive in 17th century Castelnaudary, clustered around the beautiful Grand Bassin. After your briefing and boat handling demonstration, take a stroll into town and stock up on provisions for your trip. In the evening, sample Cassoulet, a local speciality of sausage, goose and duck, slow cooked in a casserole with white beans. The hearty dish originates from Castelnaudary and the restaurants here all claim to serve the best!

Day 2: Castelnaudary to Villesèquelande

19 locks / 6hrs of cruising

Buy fresh bread and croissants and enjoy breakfast on board, before beginning your Midi adventure, passing through flat, open farmland and sleepy stone buildings as the canal wends its way east. Take lunch on your sundeck while the locks are closed, and in the afternoon, stop and unload the bikes for a short cycle into Bram, an attractive town arranged in a concentric circle around the pretty church. Then onwards to overnight in quiet Villesèquelande.

Day 3: Villesèquelande to Carcassonne

5 locks / 3.5hrs of cruising

After another morning meandering though the tranquil French countryside, you’ll arrive at the most famous of all stops along the Midi - Carcassonne, with its impressive fortified ramparts. Head straight to the centre, a bustling network of cobbled streets thronging with restaurants and shops, all nestled inside the imposing city walls. After lunch, it’s time to explore! Take a guided tour around the huge 12th Century Château Comtal. Don’t miss the ethereal magnificence of the Basilica of Saint Nazaire. Head back into the city again for dinner.

Day 4: Carcassonne to Trèbes

6 locks / 3.5hrs of cruising

Why not head away from the canal on an organised visit to the spectacular Domaine Gayda, one of the leading and most impressive wine producers in the area? Tour the state-of-the-art winery and learn how the wines are made and enjoy a relaxed and fun tasting of their excellent range of wines. Finish with a three-course lunch, accompanied by local wine of course, in their superb restaurant that overlooks the Pyrenees before returning to Carcassonne for your onward journey to Trèbes.

Day 5: Trèbes to Marseilette

3 locks / 1hr 55 minutes of cruising

Before setting off too quickly, it is worth taking a short stroll to the 13th century church, which has beautiful oak beams and sculptured figures that look down on the visitors. If you go to the Tourist Office (opposite the base on the other side of the canal) they may be able to arrange a free guided tour. For lunch, find a spot to moor in the middle of nowhere and enjoy the surrounding beauty while the locks are closed. The countryside becomes even more picturesque from this point, with open farmland giving way to tree lined tow paths and rambling meadows. Chill on deck, soak up the sunshine and enjoy the slow pace of the canal as you cruise your way to the peaceful and pretty village of Marseilette. Enjoy a stroll around Marseillette before enjoying dinner at one of the restaurants here.

Day 6: Marseilette to Homps

11 locks / 4hrs 40 minutes of cruising

Enjoy breakfast on board before you head to Puichéric. Here you can hire canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddle boards from a local water sports company so you can ‘mess about’ on the River Aude, which flows on the other side of town. You can take them out alone or you can be accompanied by a professional, for just an hour or half a day. You can also try a spot of archery.

The village of Puichéric is full of medievall character with a lovely church perfect for a short stroll before heading to Homps. You’ll pass through Aiguille Lock perhaps the most original of all locks along the canal. Decorated over the years by lock keeper and artist, Joël Barthes, it is what can only be described as an open-air contemporary art museum with dozens of sculptures in wood and metal. All of the sculptures are for sale, should one take your fancy.

Day 7: Homps

0 locks / 0 minutes of cruising

Homps is adjacent to the beautiful Jouarres Lake, an expanse of water spanning 100 hectares with a beach and shady pine forest. It’s the perfect place to finish your boating holiday. Enjoy the day relaxing and soaking up the sun and enjoy a refreshing swim - there is a lifeguard on duty in July and August. There is a restaurant on site and a snack bar selling drinks and ice creams. At peak times you can hire kayaks and canoes and fishing is also possible.

Day 8: Depart Homps

0 locks / 0 minutes of cruising

It’s time to pack up and leave your home on water as you prepare to travel home. Before you go, across the footbridge from the Le Boat base, the Minervois wine growers set up a shop offering a vast selection of wines from over 100 wineries and vineyards of the region. They will gladly allow you to try before you buy, so why not stock up before you leave.

For more Le Boat inspiration and itineraries, visit Le Boat here

Note: This itinerary can also be taken in the opposite direction. This itinerary is a suggestion only. All cruising distances and times are approximations and are subject to local navigation restrictions at the time you cruise, planned or otherwise. Please check advertised opening times of sights and attractions to avoid disappointment. Various tours or attractions may need to be booked in advance. All meals, entry fees and tour tariffs are payable at your own expense.

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