Tennis Barge Cruise Itinerary
The French Hotel Barge Athos cruises the Canal du Midi, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in the south of France stretching from Toulouse to the Mediterranean and traversing through the Languedoc wine region. Tennis barge cruises include pre-booked and paid courts and transfers to and from the tennis clubs.
Sunday, Day 1 - Argeliers
You will be met at the designated meeting point and transferred to where the Athos awaits you at her mooring in Argeliers. A full-crew Welcome Aboard follows, with Champagne and Mediterranean canapés. Once you are settled into your cabin, you will be invited to a 4-course dinner, prepared by our highly acclaimed on board Chef.
Monday, Day 2 - Argeliers to Capestang
Enjoy your first coffee of the day sitting in a comfortable chair on the upper deck of the barge. While coffee is available at any time from the bar, continental-style breakfast is served, at your leisure, beginning at 8:30am. The Argeliers Tennis Courts are a quick walk or bike ride into the village from Argeliers port. Those who opt not to play may prefer a stroll around the village, or a cycle ride on this vineyard-surrounded part of the canal. Returning to the boat post-match, we enjoy a relaxing cruise to Capestang through the locks and winding waterways. We drive to the Oulibo — the local olive oil pressoir. After tasting those organic and wholesome olives (accompanied, bien sûr, by a small glass of rosé), a short drive up the Gorge de la Cesse and into the hilltop village of Minerve is in order. Your guide tells you the harrowing tale of the Cathar siege launched at Minerve during the 13th century. The minibuses arrive back in Capestang for pre-dinner drinks and there ought to be enough time for a stroll into the village before dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 - Capestang to Regismont le Haut
After breakfast, the proposed morning visit is the famous Medieval double-walled city of Carcassonne. Your knowledgeable on-board guide will offer the historical & guided visit — making sure that you have time to browse the shops. A long lunch and an afternoon of relaxation await your return to the barge. We arrive early evening at Regismont le Haut. Only 5 minutes from this rural mooring is the village of Poilhes. Tennis courts are booked and available for a pre-dinner match. Dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 - Regismont le Haut to Fonserannes
A morning visit to the quaint town of Pezenas. After a tour of the 14th century Hotel Particuliers (or medieval court mansions), you make your way back to the boat for lunch and cruising. The afternoon promises spectacular views of the Pyrenées across the sunny, clear plain as the barge makes her way to the evening's mooring — the breath-taking view-point of the St. Nazaire Cathedral from the Fonserannes. A short drive into Béziers Tennis Club Barthes and this afternoon's tennis matches are underway. Returning to the barge for cocktails and relaxation on deck, the hostess asks if you would prefer to dine al fresco this evening to take advantage of the scenery. A long gourmet dinner and wine in the fresh air finishes a perfect day.
Thursday, Day 5 - Fonserannes to Portiragnes
Why not take a side trip to the weekly morning market in Narbonne? Even for non-shoppers, Narbonne offers much entertainment on a Thursday morning. Explore an excavated portion of the original Roman road, the Via Domitia, browse through the well-compiled Roman Museum, discover the beauty of St. Juste Cathedral, or simply take a moment to blend into the scene — sit and relax in one of the many cafés. Return to the barge for lunch and the barge begins her cruise. This 17th century feat of engineering, the Neuf Ecluses (or staircase locks), is sure to impress. The crew expertly tie her up in each lock and wait for the gates to close safely behind her before the water levels empty out and allow her to pass one lock into the next. But it's not over yet! Coming up next is the 18th century aqueduct that will carry the barge over the Orb River. The evening's mooring will be in the country, just outside the small village of Portiragnes. The crew suggest a break from tennis for today, in exchange for cycling, walking or jogging on the paved towpath that follows the cruise route. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 - Portiragnes to Marseillan
After breakfast, we cruise towards Marseillan. You pass by the Petite Camargue, watching pink flamingos in the estuaries, and keeping your eye out for the famous African Rollers and other wetland birds. A spectacular seafood lunch awaits you, as you enter the open waters of the Etang de Thau. The Etang hosts Europe's largest mussel and oyster park. As the barge comes to moor in the port at Marseillan, you will notice the enclosure which makes up the Noilly Prat Vermouth distillery where you end a perfect day with a fascinating tour and tasting of Noilly Prat vermouth. Tennis enthusiasts will have a last opportunity for an end-of-week match on the well-maintained clay courts at Marseillan Tennis Club. Chef's efforts are sure to make this evening worth remembering. Captain's Farewell Dinner on board.
Sunday, Day 7 - Marseillan
After breakfast, guests transfer to the designated drop off point.
Tennis themed cruises are for private charter only. This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. On alternate weeks, cruise will be in reverse.