French Hotel Barge EMMA - Barging in France -

Canal du Midi - France
Aigues Mortes - Béziers - Puicheric - Castelnaudary

Languedoc and the Canal du Midi

French hotel barge Emma - itinerary map
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This whole area is steeped in history. The Romans built villas overlooking the Via Domitia connecting Italy with Spain a few kilometers north of the étang

After the Romans left, there were ferocious religious wars. The Cathars built fortresses all the way up to Carcassonne to defend themselves. In 1681, the Canal du Midi was completed, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. It had been a dream of the Romans, but it took the might of the French Crown, the determination of Baron Pierre-Paul Riquet, twelve thousand men and almost twenty years before this mighty endeavour was achieved.

Earlier, Molière had been presenting his plays in summer seasons in Pézenas,and the world's first medical school, established in the 13th century in Montpellier, was becoming indeed world famous. In the 19th century, the arrival of the railroad turned Languedoc into the world's biggest wine producing region and Sète into the principal connecting port to North Africa.

This was a period of prosperity that made the towns and villages what they are today. Modern commercial transport made the Canal du Midi obsolete, but it has been preserved as a National Monument and is perfect for our leisurely cruise.


The Béziers to Aigues Mortes route is ideal in the summer months. The Canal du Midi runs alongside the Mediterranean so there are ample opportunities for swimming. This cruise takes you through tothe Carmargue region of France famous for the pink flamingoes, the white horses, the black bulls, and the wondeful sunsets.

Visits on this trip include the port of Sete (home town of Captain René) Pézenas, famous for its archictecture and quaint shops, St Guilhem le Desert set in the stunning scenery of the gorges of Herault and Montpellier, the capital of the region.

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.

The Puicheric to Castelnaudary route is the calmest of the 3 cruises Emma has to offer. There are a lot of locks for the barge along this route and the nighttime stops are often out in the wilds of the beautiful Lauragais countryside with its views of the Pyrenees in the distance. The tow path here is great for cyclists.

Visits on this route include, the walled City of Carcassonne, Lagrasse in the heart of the Corbières with its arty boutiques and potteries and the fabulous monastry, Mirepoix with its amazing outdoor market and wooden structured arched quare and of course Revel and the Lac St Férreol, the birthplace of the Canal du Midi.


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