Béziers to Puicheric (Carcassonne)
Béziers to Puicheric is usually the first-choice route for people booking a luxury barge cruise. The Canal du Midi winds its way through the renowned vineyards of the Languedoc, under tiny bridges, round hairpin bends, through numerous little villages and hamlets.
Visits on this trip include, the Cathar village of Minerve, the Roman town of Narbonne with its fabulous indoor covered market and the medieaval fortified city of Carcassonne.
SATURDAY - DAY 1
You will be met at 5pm by your guide who will bring you to where Emma is moored in the port of Colombiers outside of Béziers. As soon as you are settled on board and introduced to the rest of the crew, René your Captain, Liz, your chef and your hostess, we shall cruise off with a champagne reception to our mooring point, Regismont le Haut, the domaine of Mr. Michel Plasson, France's most famous conductor.
SUNDAY - DAY 2
After breakfast we will take you off in the minibus to Capestang where the Sunday market will give you an insight into how the French like to shop. The 12th century Collegiate is well worth a visit or just sit and have a coffee in the square and enjoy watching the world go by. This is followed by a visit to the Oppidum d'Ensérune, a pre-Christian settlement atop the hill with 360 degree views of the whole region. After your al–fresco lunch on board we shall cruise off into the vineyards under the tiny bridges and canopy of trees to moor up in the heart of this beautiful countryside.
MONDAY - DAY 3
Our cruise this morning takes us to the picturesque village of Le Somail, crossing over the impressive canal bridge of La Cesse. This is the picture postcard of the canal, with its antique book store and myriad little art galleries which are lots of fun. After lunch, your visit today is to the olive factory of Oulibo to sample the different types of olive oil, olives and all the other by products such as soap and hand cream and hand crafted bowls and implements made from the wood. This is followed by a wine tasting in the heart of the Minervois.
TUESDAY - DAY 4
Olonzac with its open air market full of local produce from the surrounding countryside, cheeses, olives, homemade jams, pottery and colourful fabrics is our first stop. Then we head up into the hills to Minerve, a medieval village perched on a spectacular rocky outcrop formed by the rivers Cesse and Brian, famous for its Cathar history. After lunch we cruise through a particularly beautiful section of canal, surrounded by vineyards, crossing through the little villages of Ventenac, across the oldest canal bridge on the canal at La Repudre to Paraza and Roubia to another tranquil mooring.
WEDNESDAY - DAY 5
Narbonne is our destination today. Once the capital of Roman Gaul, their influence is still visible in the old road dating back to 118 B.C. and the underground stores called the Horreum. It is now a bustling town with chic boutiques, street cafés and pride of place goes to the covered market which overflows with the smells and colours of all the local produce for which the Midi is renowned. Here you will be able to choose your own fare for lunch. In the afternoon we have quite a few locks today, some single, some double before mooring up for the evening. The distance between the locks makes it easy to get off and walk or ride along the tow path at the same pace as the barge, to help build up your appetite.
THURSDAY - DAY 6
We go off to explore the biggest and best fortified city in Europe, Carcassonne. Although dating from the time of Charlemagne, it has been extensively restored. You can walk along the ramparts, visit the Chateau Comptal, shop in the boutiques along the cobbled streets, visit galleries and museums and get the feel of life in the middle ages. After lunch we cruise to the little village of Puicheric which overlooks the Alaric Mountains. Enjoy a walk around the lock-keepers garden filled with rather unusual wooden sculptures and then back to Emma. While you are enjoying cocktails the last of your gourmet dinners will be being prepared.
FRIDAY - DAY 7
After breakfast, we must say our farewells and you shall be taken to your departure point for your onward journey.
Note: This is a sample itinerary as each cruise is adapted to take in the likes and interests of its guests. It runs in reverse on alternate weeks.