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Canal du Midi Cruise - What to Expect While Barging the South of France -The Planet D

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


We have all the time dreamed of taking a barge by way of the canals of the South of France. I bear in mind studying a journey guide after I was younger a few couple who barged their manner by way of Europe and I’ve had that on my bucket record ever since. When we had the alternative to drive our personal houseboat on the Rideau Canal final summer time in Canada, we made a degree to put Europe on our journey itinerary subsequent. So when Le Boat requested if we needed to self-drive a ship and cruise the Canal du Midi this summer time, our reply was a convincing, sure!

Cruise the Canal du Midi Tips and Advice

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

Dave learns about the boat

You don’t want any boating expertise to drive a Le Boat houseboat. When you arrive at the marina, a consultant will stroll you thru the boat’s controls and present you ways 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 loads of bumpers on the boat to preserve you from crashing into the canal partitions.

Transfer from Toulouse to Homps

Canal du midi France Transfers
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Our Transfer 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 decide-ups to take you from Toulouse to Homps, and so they accomplish that in fashion.

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

Homps, France

Homps is the leaping-off level for Le Boat Vacations alongside the canal and it’s right here that we advocate spending no less than a day to get every part to ensure that your cruise. There are loads of eating places alongside the canal and there are a number of inns and residence leases. Homps has been catering to Canal du Midi barges for years and is the good place for eating, purchasing for provides and enjoyable.

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

Taking our personal switch from the Toulouse airport, we arrived at the stunning Jardin d’Homps BnB in the village only a brief stroll from the Canal du Midi. This beautiful property is ready in a quiet tree-coated courtyard with a swimming pool, terrace, and scrumptious breakfast.

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

It was then off to our first evening of eating on this historic waterway at En Bonne Compagnie. This beautiful tavern had a unbelievable ambiance with wonderful service and meals. What a manner to kick off our journey. We may have spent greater than a day right here enjoyable on this quiet city, As one resident from England who bought property right here stated, “It’s like Tuscany without the crowds.” They got here on a canal tour years earlier and cherished it a lot, that they moved right here! But alas, we solely had at some point earlier than our boat journey started.

Preparing for a Canal du Midi Cruise

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

There is a grocery retailer on the town the place you’ll be able to top off on meals and drinks. Our guesthouse proprietor warned us that there weren’t so much of choices for meals in the coming days, so we should always get every part we’d like now.

The BnB proprietor was variety sufficient to take our baggage and provides to the Le Boat test-in workplace, so we discovered a pleasant place in the shade to wait to be checked in and at last get on our manner.

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

One of the most necessary items of recommendation I may give you for buying is to buy loads of water. The south of France can see insufferable warmth in the summer time, and through our journey, the temperatures rose to 42 levels Celcius. (107 F). We couldn’t drink sufficient water to keep hydrated. Luckily, our Vision 3 boat had a full-dimension fridge, so we had loads of room to preserve issues cool.

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

Below we now have supplied some packing important suggestions for cruising the Canal du Midi.

Our Route on the Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi Cruise Map
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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 by way of our boat stroll-by way of and lesson, we cruised for only a couple of hours to attain Puicheric.

When we docked, we have been grateful for having shopped in Homps as the city was a bit of a hike. We had two bikes, however there have been 4 of us, and since we simply acquired on the boat, we determined to chill out and make dinner on the deck. Using 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

Homps PuichericTrebesCarcassonnePrexoriaCastlenaudrey

We counsel spending two nights in Carcassone as that is the largest metropolis with the most points of interest. Castlenaudrey has so much of facilities as properly and you may catch the prepare again to Toulouse from right here after Le Boat if you happen to don’t need to spend cash on the switch.

Activities on the Canal du Midi

Canal du midi France Activities
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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 so much, however we quickly realized that the smaller villages alongside the canal, actually don’t have so much of sightseeing or issues to do. When planning your journey, take the stops into consideration.

Canal du midi Cuise France Carcasonne
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Carcassonne

Besides the cities of Carcassonne and Castlenaudrey, there wasn’t so much to do. If you need to see points of interest 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 advise spending two days in Carcassonne and planning from there. We couldn’t guide wine excursions, sightseeing, and even taxis from our boat and wished that we spent two nights in Homps and two nights in Carcassonne.

About the Locks and the Canal du Midi

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

If you learn our Le Boat expertise on the Rideau Canal in Canada, you will notice that cruising the canals in Canada it is rather enjoyable as Parks Canada works the locks. Cruising the Canal du Midi takes much more work. The Rideau Canal is way more environment friendly with traces inside 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 individual should get off the boat at every lock to be there to take the ropes and loop them round the cleats at the high of the lock. This means you need to tie up above the lock and let that individual off earlier than you’ll be able to undergo. This makes it much more time-consuming in contrast to the Rideau Canal.

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

Canal du midi Cuise France Lock Keepers
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Before occurring the Canal du Midi, we had heard that we would want to hand crank the locks ourselves. This was not the case on our route between Homps and Castlenaudry. For most of the locks, a lockkeeper is there to function the controls for you. The solely factor you want to do is catch the ropes at the high whereas the captain drives in. And then one individual have to be at the entrance and the again of the boat to maintain it regular with the ropes.

However, there was one portion of the canal on the manner into Castlenaudry, the place the passenger had to function the opening and shutting of the locks. The locks are automated, so all you will have 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 enormous day of going by way of locks. We discovered that, as an alternative of having the captain cease every time to drop one of us off earlier than every lock, the individual conrtolling the locks as an alternative cycled forward to be ready for the boat to enter.

When 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
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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 may loop them round the cleats. I then pushed the button to shut the doorways and fill the locks. They held onto the ropes to preserve the boat regular, and as soon as the lock was crammed, the doorways opened routinely. 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 Rentals

Canal du midi Cuise France Le Boat Bicycle Rentals
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If you didn’t hire a bicycle from Le Boat, you’ll both want to stroll forward throughout that portion or have the captain drop you on and off earlier than every lock. We extremely really helpful renting no less than one bike. Besides, 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 instances, you’ll desire a bicycle to purchase some extra meals as shops have been a bit of a hike from the boat. While eating places and bars are positioned straight or inside strolling distance of the docks when in Homps, Trebs, Carcasonne, and Castlenaudry, there are occasions while you’ll be a number of km from the city. Plus, there are biking paths all alongside the Canal du Midi, so if you happen to get into your dock early, you might have considered trying to get on the bikes to take a look round.

On Board Grocery Pack

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

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

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

Shopping List

Canal du midi Cuise France Shopping List
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It is up to you ways a lot you need to buy. There are loads of locations the place you’ll find a way to dine out however no less than for the first evening, you want your personal meals on board. And we extremely advocate having breakfast, snacks, lunches, and sufficient meals for a pair of dinners on board.

We purchased meals for all of our breakfasts, lunch, and for 2 dinners. The finest recommendation we may give is to plan your meals forward of time and resolve how typically you need to eat on the boat. You can’t take the meals with you, so in case you have a transparent concept for every meal, you should purchase meats and cheeses, pastries and dinners for the length of your journey.

Packing Essentials for Le Boat on the Canal du Midi

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

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

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

Another 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 had to go below low bridges. Sun hats are a should. Bathing fits usually are not wanted as you can not swim in the Canal du Midi. This umbrella seems like it will have been good to have at the captain’s chair.

Sunglasses and binoculars are a good suggestion as properly. Le Boat in each Ireland and Canada equipped binoculars however these waterways are on rivers with open lakes and also you want to discover buoys and markers. Binoculars usually are not wanted on the Canal du Midi since it’s only a straight slender canal so that you don’t want them to navigate, however it’s good to find a way to take a better take a look at the passing surroundings.

Canal du Midi Navigation
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Also, I extremely advocate bringing a pair of board video games or playing cards for evenings and it’s a good suggestion to pack transportable audio system to your music.

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

Choose Your Boat Wisely

Canal du midi Choosing Boat
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We drove a Vision 3 by Le Boat

Le Boat has a number of completely different kinds of boats. If your finances permits, we advise reserving the Horizon Lines or Premier boats. They are the latest and run the finest. We have pushed the Horizon fleet in Canada and Ireland and so they actually are the high of the line.

On the Canal du Midi, we had a consolation boat Vision 3. It didn’t deal with fairly in addition to the Horizon and you may count on a number of issues to go flawed on the older boats. For instance, our air con stopped working so that they had to give us a conveyable unit to use. And our battery died, so we had to swap out boats half manner by way of 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 fear about being stranded. They will all the time be there to assist.

Canal du Midi Cruise Le Boat Choice
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For inexperienced boaters, The Horizon Line is wonderful and these are the boats we advocate in case your finances 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 Vision 3 boat in France took a whole boat size to cease and the thrusters weren’t as highly effective. This boat took extra talent to maneuver.

This is very true with the winds on the Canal du Midi. We had fairly a 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 doubtless. So, if you happen to don’t have so much of boating expertise, we advise sticking with the new and better-finish fashions.

Extremely Low Bridges on the Canal

Canal du Midi Boat Driving tips
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Also beware, that there are so much of low and slender bridges all alongside the Canal du Midi. We booked a big three-bed room boat and it felt nearly too massive. If you aren’t snug driving by way of slender passages, we advise renting a smaller boat. Le Boat has boat sizes that match any consolation degree and so they can go as small as simply having two passengers.

Going by way of the low bridges could be a thrill, but it surely additionally turned tiresome. We may by no means put our cover up to get aid from the sizzling solar, we had to duck every time we went below a bridge in order not to hit our heads. (this may be actually severe, so we have been often reminded one another to duck when approaching), and it was all the time a bit irritating that we’d hit the sides.

About Barging the Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi Cruise Barging
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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 Ireland – extra on that cruise coming quickly) we loved the broad open waters and fewer locks in contrast to the fixed slender channels and abundance of locks on the Canal du Midi.

That stated, my sister-in-regulation cherished going by way of the locks and stated that her favourite half was having the expertise of going by way of the locks.

As the captain, Dave discovered that having to pull over often to let individuals was a bit irritating and I discovered that having to get off the boat a number of instances a day was a bit of a chore. I’d have most popular to keep on the boat to chill out and luxuriate in the surroundings. But, if you happen to love to work and have a activity throughout your travels, you’ll love the Canal du Midi.

Canal du Midi Cruise Le Boat Driving
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Going on the Canal du Midi is a good way to discover the extra off-the-crushed-path locations of France. It takes you again in time to journey at a slower tempo by yourself time. As one individual stated to us “The Canal du Midi is the perfect place to think more and hurry less.” I like that.

Plan Your Next Canal Cruise in Europe With these Resources



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