Video Cruise the Canal du Midi aboard the Hotel Barge Enchanté

October 10, 2016

 

Enchanté is a state of the art, double-decker hotel barge that has been built to the highest standard. She provides luxurious accommodation for up to 8 guests in four equally spacious twin or double-bedded suites, the largest of any hotel barge on the Canal du Midi (approx. 165sq ft each including en suite) and with superbly appointed bathrooms.

The hotel barge is tastefully furnished in a contemporary style, creating a bright, art deco atmosphere. She has a large, spacious saloon where the attention to detail is exceptional. She also has a demonstration galley allowing guests to see the skilled chef at work, CD/iPod sound system, a computer with internet connection for guests’ use, and heating and air conditioning throughout. There is a spacious sun deck, with alfresco dining area and gorgeous spa pool.

Cruise Highlights

• Private winery tour and tasting of fine Minervois wines
• Tour Narbonne’s Archbishop’s Palace and experience the colourful market
• Visit an olive oil press to sample the famous Lucques olives
• Visit beautiful Lagrasse and its 8th century abbey, with lunch in a stunning location
• See the Cathar hilltop village of Minerve with its spectacular setting
• Tour of the medieval city of Carcassonne
• Excellent towpath for walking and cycling
• Biking Plus” option available

Canal du Midi

From Roman times, a link between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic had long been on the minds of those wishing to avoid a trip around the Strait of Gibraltar. Charlemagne considered it in the 8th century. François I and Leonardo da Vinci talked about it in 1516. But it took a wealthy salt tax collector in the 17th century to bring it to pass.

Pierre Paul Riquet (1604-1680) of Béziers supplied the vision, the drive, and even part of the financing for the Canal du Midi. In 1666 an edict by Louis XIV proclaimed that construction could begin. Seven million cubic meters of earth were excavated for the project, which employed 12,000 men over a period of 12 years.

The Canal du Midi was built to enable the more efficient transport of goods and add to the mobility of the French navy. It was also intended from the beginning to bring glory to Le Roi Soleil, Louis XIV, the Sun King. Covering 150 miles, it includes 328 structures such as locks, tunnels, bridges, and aqueducts. The canal’s 63 locks include double, triple, quadruple and sextuple staircase locks.

The canal has changed little in its 300 years. Now lock gates are steel rather than timber. An aqueduct was built to create a waterway over the River Orb. And a “water slope” was built at Béziers to allow boats to avoid the sixrise staircase. In 1996 the canal was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

The high quality of construction that went into the locks, aqueducts, and buildings is responsible for making the Canal du Midi the oldest canal in Europe still functioning. The canal remains not only functional but of high quality, making it the most popular canal in France. The banks of the canal are lined with pines, poplars, cypresses, and plane trees.

What is hotel barging?

Despite the growing popularity of cruising, especiallly on large river vessels, hotel barging is still a little known niche concept. Most hotel barges started life as cargo vessels but have since been painstakingly converted to offer luxury boutique accommodation for small groups of up to 20 passengers.

This is cruising, but in a very different style to ships plying the big rivers or oceans. The pace is slow, with a 6 day cruise covering maybe just 50 miles along a rural canal. Passengers can walk or bike the towpaths as their floating hotel glides gently along. Guests enjoy an intimate atmosphere, high levels of personal service and immersion into the culture, history and gastronomy of regions of Europe such as Burgundy, the Midi, or the Italian Veneto.

Every day there is an excursion, perhaps to a chateau, a vineyard for a wine tasting, or some other ‘off the beaten track’ location. About half of European Waterways’ bookings are for whole boat charters, ideal for families. Otherwise, clients book a cabin to join other like-minded people. A ‘slow boat’ European Waterways barge cruise offers the ultimate in experiential travel. A truly unique experience!

European Waterways offer luxury hotel barge cruises on the beautiful canals and rivers of Europe, such as through Burgundy, the Midi, Alsace, the Po Valley, Holland and the Scottish Highlands.

The exclusive collection of hotel barges accommodate up to 20 passengers who may charter a whole barge with family or friends, or join a small group of like-minded travellers on an individual cabin basis.

Each barge is fully crewed with a Captain, chef, hostesses, deck-hand and tour guide. The 6-night cruises include gourmet meals, fine wines, open bar, excursions and the use of facilities such as bicycles and spa pools.