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Canal du Midi Cruise – What to Anticipate Whereas Barging the South of France -The Planet D


We’ve at all times dreamed of taking a barge via the canals of the South of France. I bear in mind studying a journey e-book once I was younger a couple of couple who barged their means via Europe and I’ve had that on my bucket checklist ever since. After we had the chance to drive our personal houseboat on the Rideau Canal final summer season in Canada, we made some extent to place Europe on our journey itinerary subsequent. So when Le Boat requested if we wished to self-drive a ship and cruise the Canal du Midi this summer season, our reply was a convincing, sure!

Cruise the Canal du Midi Ideas and Recommendation

Since we had already taken two Le Boat cruises in Canada, we felt like seasoned consultants upon arrival on the Le Boat headquarters in Homps positioned 90 minutes south of Toulouse. We whizzed via our 40-minute boat introduction and set off for our 6-day cruise down the well-known canal.

Canal du Midi France with Le Boat Lesson
Dave learns concerning the boat

You don’t want any boating expertise to drive a Le Boat houseboat. While you arrive on the marina, a consultant will stroll you thru the boat’s controls and present you find out how to drive it. There are limiters on the velocity so you’ll be able to solely cruise at a most of 10km per hour and there are many bumpers on the boat to maintain you from crashing into the canal partitions.

Switch from Toulouse to Homps

Canal du midi France Transfers
Our Switch to Homps

Le Boat’s Canal du Midi headquarters are positioned in Homps which is a 90-minute drive from the airport. Le Boat arranges transfers and airport pick-ups to take you from Toulouse to Homps, and so they accomplish that in model.

My brother and sister-in-law met us for this journey, so after spending 2 days in Toulouse, we went again to the airport to fulfill them and our drive to take the switch to our embarkation level.

Homps, France

Homps is the jumping-off level for Le Boat Holidays alongside the canal and it’s right here that we advocate spending at the least a day to get every thing to ensure that your cruise. There are many eating places alongside the canal and there are a number of resorts and condominium leases. Homps has been catering to Canal du Midi barges for years and is the proper place for eating, purchasing for provides and enjoyable.

canalu du midi cruise jardins d'homps
Jardin d’Homps Pool

Taking our non-public switch from the Toulouse airport, we arrived on the lovely Jardin d’Homps BnB within the village only a quick stroll from the Canal du Midi. This pretty property is ready in a quiet tree-covered courtyard with a swimming pool, terrace, and scrumptious breakfast.

Canal du Midi En Bonne Compagnie Homps
Dinner at En Bonne Compagnie

It was then off to our first evening of eating on this historic waterway at En Bonne Compagnie. This pretty tavern had a unbelievable environment with wonderful service and meals. What a technique to kick off our journey. We might have spent greater than a day right here enjoyable on this quiet city, As one resident from England who bought property right here mentioned, “It’s like Tuscany with out the crowds.” They got here on a canal tour years earlier and cherished it a lot, that they moved right here! However alas, we solely had at some point earlier than our boat journey started.

Making ready for a Canal du Midi Cruise

Canal du midi France Homps
Pretty downtown Homps on the Canal du Midi

There’s a grocery retailer on the town the place you’ll be able to refill on meals and drinks. Our guesthouse proprietor warned us that there weren’t loads of choices for meals within the coming days, so we should always get every thing we want now.

The BnB proprietor was sort sufficient to take our baggage and provides to the Le Boat check-in workplace, so we discovered a pleasant place within the shade to attend to be checked in and eventually get on our means.

Canal du midi France Le Boat Office Homps
Le Boat’s Reception in Homps

One of the vital necessary items of recommendation I can provide you for buying is to buy loads of water. The south of France can see insufferable warmth in the summertime, and through our journey, the temperatures rose to 42 levels Celcius. (107 F). We couldn’t drink sufficient water to remain hydrated. Fortunately, our Imaginative and prescient 3 boat had a full-size fridge, so we had loads of room to maintain issues cool.

We ordered a picnic package deal which gave us a couple of necessities to start our journey. This helps with important gadgets like espresso, milk, sugar, butter, bread, salt & pepper, olive oil, a couple of bottles of water, juice, coke, and a few native wine and beer. It additionally consists of snacks like chips, peanuts, biscuits, and croissants. I like to recommend ordering this as it should get you thru a day or two in case you forgot something.

Beneath we’ve got offered some packing important ideas for cruising the Canal du Midi.

Our Route on the Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi Cruise Map
Canal du Midi Route – Map courtesy of Le Boat

Our route alongside the Canal du Midi took us from Homps to Castlenaudry.

Day one was a brief day of cruising. After checking in, unpacking, and going via our boat walk-through and lesson, we cruised for simply a few hours to succeed in Puicheric.

After we docked, we have been grateful for having shopped in Homps because the city was a little bit of a hike. We had two bikes, however there have been 4 of us, and since we simply bought on the boat, we determined to chill out and make dinner on the deck. Utilizing the barbecue we made dinner and sipped wine from the South of France as we watched the solar go down.

We had a six-day itinerary to get from Homps to Castlenaudry and that was greater than sufficient. Our stops included

  1. Homps
  2. Puicheric
  3. Trebes
  4. Carcassonne
  5. Prexoria
  6. Castlenaudrey

We advise spending two nights in Carcassone as that is the biggest metropolis with essentially the most sights. Castlenaudrey has loads of facilities as nicely and you’ll catch the practice again to Toulouse from right here after Le Boat when you don’t need to spend cash on the switch.

Actions on the Canal du Midi

Canal du midi France Activities
Homps, France

We had visions of stopping at vineyards and olive groves throughout our time on the Canal however sadly that didn’t occur. We thought we’d be going sightseeing and exploring loads, however we quickly realized that the smaller villages alongside the canal, actually don’t have loads of sightseeing or issues to do. When planning your journey, take the stops into consideration.

Canal du midi Cuise France Carcasonne

In addition to the cities of Carcassonne and Castlenaudrey, there wasn’t loads to do. If you wish to see sights and have excursions, this isn’t the journey for you. The attraction is being on the boat.

For our route, if you need excursions, we recommend spending two days in Carcassonne and planning from there. We couldn’t e-book wine excursions, sightseeing, and even taxis from our boat and wished that we spent two nights in Homps and two nights in Carcassonne.

Concerning the Locks and the Canal du Midi

Canal du midi Cuise France Locks
Inside a lock on the Canal du Midi

For those who learn our Le Boat expertise on the Rideau Canal in Canada, you will notice that cruising the canals in Canada it is vitally enjoyable as Parks Canada works the locks. Cruising the Canal du Midi takes much more work. The Rideau Canal is rather more environment friendly with traces contained in the locks that transfer up and down with the water so you’ll be able to merely loop your ropes round them from the boat.

The distinction is when cruising the Canal du Midi locks, one particular person should get off the boat at every lock to be there to take the ropes and loop them across the cleats on the prime of the lock. This implies you need to tie up above the lock and let that particular person off earlier than you’ll be able to undergo. This makes it much more time-consuming in comparison with the Rideau Canal.

Do You Open and Shut the Locks on the Canal du Midi?

Canal du midi Cuise France Lock Keepers

Earlier than happening the Canal du Midi, we had heard that we would wish handy crank the locks ourselves. This was not the case on our route between Homps and Castlenaudry. For many of the locks, a lockkeeper is there to function the controls for you. The one factor you should do is catch the ropes on the prime whereas the captain drives in. After which one particular person have to be on the entrance and the again of the boat to carry it regular with the ropes.

Nevertheless, there was one portion of the canal on the best way into Castlenaudry, the place the passenger needed to function the opening and shutting of the locks. The locks are automated, so all it’s important to do is press the button and comply with the directions.

An necessary factor to notice is that on this stretch, the locks are about 1km aside, so it’s a big day of going via locks. We discovered that, as an alternative of getting the captain cease every time to drop one in all us off earlier than every lock, the particular person conrtolling the locks as an alternative cycled forward to be ready for the boat to enter.

After I noticed the boat approaching, I pushed the inexperienced button to open the doorways. This made the entire expertise very environment friendly.

Canal du midi Cuise France Lock Auto Stations
Controls to open the locks

When the doorways opened, Dave drove the boat in after which Jim and Janice tossed me their ropes so I might loop them across the cleats. I then pushed the button to shut the doorways and fill the locks. They held onto the ropes to maintain the boat regular, and as soon as the lock was crammed, the doorways opened mechanically. I then rode forward to open the subsequent lock.

So our largest tip for this portion of the journey is to have a bicycle on board.

Bicycle Leases

Canal du midi Cuise France Le Boat Bicycle Rentals

For those who didn’t lease a bicycle from Le Boat, you’ll both must stroll forward throughout that portion or have the captain drop you on and off earlier than every lock. We extremely really useful renting at the least one bike. In addition to, a number of of the mooring areas are positioned out of city or the grocery shops are far out of your boat, so having a motorcycle was an enormous bonus.

At occasions, you’ll desire a bicycle to purchase some extra meals as shops have been a little bit of a hike from the boat. Whereas eating places and bars are positioned straight or inside strolling distance of the docks when in Homps, Trebs, Carcasonne, and Castlenaudry, there are occasions once you’ll be a couple of km from the city. Plus, there are biking paths all alongside the Canal du Midi, so when you get into your dock early, it’s possible you’ll need to get on the bikes to take a look round.

On Board Grocery Pack

Canal du midi Cuise Le Boat Grocery Pack
On Board Grovery Pack

As we talked about above, we extremely advocate ordering the grocery package deal to get you began on the boat. You’ll positively must do buying, however this enables you for some extras corresponding to espresso, milk, butter, jam, olive oil, sugar, and salt and pepper.

It additionally consists of native wine, beer, lemonade, coke, water, and snacks corresponding to croissants, bread, biscuits, and chips. We discovered that we ended up utilizing every thing together with the aluminum foil which is nice for cooking on the barbecue. Ensure that to order your grocery pack 7 days prematurely to have it on board once you arrive.

Procuring Record

Canal du midi Cuise France Shopping List

It’s as much as you the way a lot you need to buy. There are many locations the place you’ll be capable to dine out however at the least for the primary evening, you want your personal meals on board. And we extremely advocate having breakfast, snacks, lunches, and sufficient meals for a few dinners on board.

We purchased meals for all of our breakfasts, lunch, and for 2 dinners. The perfect recommendation we can provide is to plan your meals forward of time and determine how usually you need to eat on the boat. You possibly can’t take the meals with you, so when you’ve got a transparent thought for every meal, you should purchase meats and cheeses, pastries and dinners at some stage in your journey.

Packing Necessities for Le Boat on the Canal du Midi

Canal du midi Cruise Packing List

Cruising the Canal du Midi happens in the summertime months in Southern France, so count on scorching climate. Pack the standard summer-specific clothes like shorts and T-shirts, however one Le Boat-specific merchandise we can not stress sufficient is to pack work gloves to man the locks. The ropes can actually tear up your palms, plus, they’re usually slimy. We used these gloves however I believe waterproof work gloves could be higher. See these on Amazon.

The Canal du Midi is just not clear, boats are allowed (really inspired) to dump their bogs straight into the canal whereas driving. We are able to attest that many individuals even dumped their black water whereas docked because the odor wafted into our cabins. Since you’re dealing with ropes which can be recurrently falling into the water, put on gloves when tieing up and doing the traces. And wash your palms usually.

Canal du Midi Cruise packing tips
Work gloves are a should when cruising the Canal du Midi

One other merchandise we want we had was a solar umbrella. We couldn’t put our boat cover up as a result of each few hundred meters we needed to go underneath low bridges. Solar hats are a should. Bathing fits aren’t wanted as you can’t swim within the Canal du Midi. This umbrella appears like it could have been good to have on the captain’s chair.

Sun shades and binoculars are a good suggestion as nicely. Le Boat in each Eire and Canada provided binoculars however these waterways are on rivers with open lakes and you should discover buoys and markers. Binoculars aren’t wanted on the Canal du Midi since it’s only a straight slim canal so that you don’t want them to navigate, however it’s good to have the ability to take a better have a look at the passing surroundings.

Canal du Midi Navigation

Additionally, I extremely advocate bringing a few board video games or playing cards for evenings and it’s a good suggestion to pack moveable audio system on your music.

Transportable fan – I’ve a USB-operated fan that’s handheld and that helped me loads once I was overheating. I’ve at all times suffered from a Thyroid dysfunction and Graves illness, so my thermostat has by no means been nice. With the nonetheless scorching air on the Canal du Midi, I used to be struggling. My moveable handheld fan helped me loads when the warmth was too intense.

Select Your Boat Correctly

Canal du midi Choosing Boat
We drove a Imaginative and prescient 3 by Le Boat

Le Boat has a number of totally different kinds of boats. In case your price range permits, we recommend reserving the Horizon Traces or Premier boats. They’re the most recent and run the most effective. We’ve pushed the Horizon fleet in Canada and Eire and so they actually are the highest of the road.

On the Canal du Midi, we had a consolation boat Imaginative and prescient 3. It didn’t deal with fairly in addition to the Horizon and you’ll count on a couple of issues to go incorrect on the older boats. For instance, our air-con stopped working in order that they needed to give us a transportable unit to make use of. And our battery died, so we needed to swap out boats half means via our journey.

Le Boat has emergency numbers and sends out technicians shortly, so when one thing does occur they’re on it quick so that you don’t want to fret about being stranded. They may at all times be there to assist.

Canal du Midi Cruise Le Boat Choice

For inexperienced boaters, The Horizon Line is superb and these are the boats we advocate in case your price range permits. Our Horizons 3 and 4 boats turned on a dime and the thrusters have been so highly effective you’ll be able to cease shortly to keep away from any collisions.

Our Imaginative and prescient 3 boat in France took a whole boat size to cease and the thrusters weren’t as highly effective. This boat took extra ability to maneuver.

That is very true with the winds on the Canal du Midi. We had fairly a little bit of expertise by this time, however we noticed individuals going into locks sideways, hitting different boats, and being blown away whereas docking. With the newer fashions, that is much less probably. So, when you don’t have loads of boating expertise, we recommend sticking with the brand new and higher-end fashions.

Extraordinarily Low Bridges on the Canal

Canal du Midi Boat Driving tips

Additionally beware, that there are loads of low and slim bridges all alongside the Canal du Midi. We booked a big three-bedroom boat and it felt virtually too large. For those who aren’t comfy driving via slim passages, we recommend renting a smaller boat. Le Boat has boat sizes that match any consolation stage and so they can go as small as simply having two passengers.

Going via the low bridges is usually a thrill, however it additionally grew to become tiresome. We might by no means put our cover as much as get reduction from the new solar, we needed to duck every time we went underneath a bridge in order to not hit our heads. (this may be actually critical, so we have been recurrently reminded one another to duck when approaching), and it was at all times a bit demanding that we’d hit the perimeters.

About Barging the Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi Cruise Barging

Cruising the Canal du Midi is on many individuals’s bucket lists. We loved it however felt that Canada’s Rideau Canal was extra our velocity. In Canada (and Eire – extra on that cruise coming quickly) we loved the extensive open waters and fewer locks in comparison with the fixed slim channels and abundance of locks on the Canal du Midi.

That mentioned, my sister-in-law cherished going via the locks and mentioned that her favourite half was having the expertise of going via the locks.

Because the captain, Dave discovered that having to tug over recurrently to let individuals was a bit demanding and I discovered that having to get off the boat a number of occasions a day was a little bit of a chore. I’d have most well-liked to remain on the boat to chill out and benefit from the surroundings. However, when you like to work and have a job throughout your travels, you’ll love the Canal du Midi.

Canal du Midi Cruise Le Boat Driving

Occurring the Canal du Midi is a good way to discover the extra off-the-beaten-path locations of France. It takes you again in time to journey at a slower tempo by yourself time. As one particular person mentioned to us “The Canal du Midi is the proper place to suppose extra and hurry much less.” I like that.

Plan Your Subsequent Canal Cruise in Europe With these Assets




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