We have actually constantly imagined taking a barge through the canals of the South of France. I keep in mind checking out a guidebook when I was young about a couple who barged their method through Europe and I have actually had that on my container list since. When we had the chance to drive our own houseboat on the Rideau Canal last summer season in Canada, we made a point to put Europe on our travel schedule next. So when Le Boat asked if we wished to self-drive a boat and cruise the Canal du Midi this summer season, our response was a definite, yes!
Cruise the Canal du Midi Tips and Recommendations
Because we had actually currently taken 2 Le Boat cruises in Canada, we seemed like experienced specialists upon arrival at the Le Boat head office in Homps situated 90 minutes south of Toulouse. We zoomed through our 40-minute boat intro and set off for our 6-day cruise down the popular canal.
You do not require any boating experience to drive a Le Boat houseboat. When you come to the marina, an agent will stroll you through the boat’s controls and reveal you how to drive it. There are limiters on the speed so you can just travel at an optimum of 10km per hour and there are a lot of bumpers on the boat to keep you from crashing into the canal walls.
Transfer from Toulouse to Homps
Le Boat’s Canal du Midi head offices lie in Homps which is a 90-minute drive from the airport. Le Boat sets up transfers and airport pick-ups to take you from Toulouse to Homps, and they do so in design.
My sibling and sister-in-law fulfilled us for this journey, so after investing 2 days in Toulouse, we returned to the airport to fulfill them and our drive to take the transfer to our embarkation point.
Homps is the jumping-off point for Le Boat Vacations along the canal and it is here that we suggest costs a minimum of a day to get whatever in order for your cruise. There are a lot of dining establishments along the canal and there are numerous hotels and house leasings. Homps has actually been dealing with Canal du Midi barges for many years and is the ideal location for dining, searching for products and relaxing.
Taking our personal transfer from the Toulouse airport, we got to the stunning Jardin d’Homps BnB in the town simply a brief walk from the Canal du Midi. This beautiful residential or commercial property is embeded in a peaceful tree-covered yard with a pool, balcony, and tasty breakfast.
It was then off to our opening night of dining on this historical waterway at En Bonne Compagnie. This beautiful pub had a great environment with outstanding service and food. What a method to begin our journey. We might have invested more than a day here unwinding in this peaceful town, As one homeowner from England who bought residential or commercial property here stated, “It resembles Tuscany without the crowds.” They began a canal trip years previously and enjoyed it a lot, that they moved here! However alas, we just had one day prior to our boat journey started.
Getting Ready For a Canal du Midi Cruise
There is a supermarket in the area where you can stockpile on food and beverages. Our guesthouse owner cautioned us that there weren’t a great deal of alternatives for food in the coming days, so we need to get whatever we require now.
The BnB owner was kind sufficient to take our travel luggage and products to the Le Boat check-in workplace, so we discovered a good location in the shade to wait to be signed in and lastly get on our method.
Among the most essential pieces of suggestions I can provide you for shopping is to buy a lot of water. The south of France can see excruciating heat in the summer season, and throughout our journey, the temperature levels increased to 42 degrees Celcius. (107 F). We could not consume sufficient water to remain hydrated. Fortunately, our Vision 3 boat had a full-size fridge, so we had a lot of space to keep things cool.
We bought a picnic plan which offered us a couple of necessary to start our journey. This assists with important products like coffee, milk, sugar, butter, bread, salt & & pepper, olive oil, a couple of bottles of water, juice, coke, and some regional red wine and beer. It likewise consists of treats like chips, peanuts, biscuits, and croissants. I suggest buying this as it will get you through a day or 2 in case you forgot anything.
Listed below we have actually offered some packaging important suggestions for travelling the Canal du Midi.
Our Path on the Canal du Midi
Our path along the Canal du Midi took us from Homps to Castlenaudry.
The first day was a brief day of travelling. After signing in, unloading, and going through our boat walk-through and lesson, we travelled for simply a number of hours to reach Puicheric.
When we docked, we were grateful for having actually gone shopping in Homps as the town was a little bit of a walking. We had 2 bikes, however there were 4 people, and because we simply got on the boat, we chose to unwind and make supper on the deck. Utilizing the barbecue we made supper and drank red wine from the South of France as we viewed the sun decrease.
We had a six-day travel plan to obtain from Homps to Castlenaudry which was sufficient. Our stops consisted of
We recommend investing 2 nights in Carcassone as this is the biggest city with the most destinations. Castlenaudrey has a great deal of features too and you can capture the train back to Toulouse from here after Le Boat if you do not wish to invest cash on the transfer.
Activities on the Canal du Midi
We had visions of stopping at vineyards and olive groves throughout our time on the Canal however regrettably that didn’t occur. We believed we ‘d be going sightseeing and checking out a lot, however we quickly recognized that the smaller sized towns along the canal, actually do not have a great deal of sightseeing or things to do. When preparing your journey, take the stops into factor to consider.
Besides the towns of Carcassonne and Castlenaudrey, there wasn’t a lot to do. If you wish to see destinations and have expeditions, this is not the journey for you. The destination is being on the boat.
For our path, if you desire expeditions, we recommend investing 2 days in Carcassonne and preparing from there. We could not schedule red wine trips, sightseeing, or perhaps taxis cab from our boat and wanted that we invested 2 nights in Homps and 2 nights in Carcassonne.
About the Locks and the Canal du Midi
If you read our Le Boat experience on the Rideau Canal in Canada, you will see that travelling the canals in Canada it is really peaceful as Parks Canada works the locks. Travelling the Canal du Midi takes a lot more work. The Rideau Canal is far more effective with lines inside the locks that go up and down with the water so you can just loop your ropes around them from the boat.
The distinction is when travelling the Canal du Midi locks, a single person needs to leave the boat at each lock to be there to take the ropes and loop them around the cleats at the top of the lock. This indicates you should bind above the lock and let that individual off prior to you can go through. This makes it a lot more lengthy compared to the Rideau Canal.
Do You Open and Close the Locks on the Canal du Midi?
Prior to going on the Canal du Midi, we had actually heard that we would require to hand crank the locks ourselves. This was not the case on our path in between Homps and Castlenaudry. For the majority of the locks, a lockkeeper exists to run the controls for you. The only thing you require to do is capture the ropes at the top while the captain drives in. And after that a single person needs to be at the front and the back of the boat to hold it constant with the ropes.
Nevertheless, there was one part of the canal en route into Castlenaudry, where the guest needed to run the opening and closing of the locks. The locks are automated, so all you need to do is push the button and follow the guidelines.
An essential thing to note is that on this stretch, the locks have to do with 1km apart, so it is a big day of going through locks. We discovered that, rather of having the captain stop each time to drop among us off prior to each lock, the individual conrtolling the locks rather cycled ahead to be gotten ready for the boat to go into.
When I saw the boat approaching, I pressed the green button to unlock. This made the entire experience really effective.
When the doors opened, Dave drove the boat in and after that Jim and Janice tossed me their ropes so I might loop them around the cleats. I then pressed the button to close the doors and fill the locks. They kept the ropes to keep the boat constant, and when the lock was filled, the doors opened immediately. I then rode ahead to open the next lock.
So our most significant idea for this part of the journey is to have a bike on board.
If you didn’t lease a bike from Le Boat, you will either require to stroll ahead throughout that part or have the captain drop you on and off prior to each lock. We extremely advised leasing a minimum of one bike. Besides, numerous of the mooring locations are found out of town or the supermarket are far from your boat, so having a bike was a big perk.
Sometimes, you’ll desire a bike to purchase some more food as shops were a little bit of a walking from the boat. While dining establishments and bars lie straight or within strolling range of the docks when in Homps, Trebs, Carcasonne, and Castlenaudry, there are times when you’ll be a couple of km from the town. Plus, there are biking courses the whole time the Canal du Midi, so if you enter your dock early, you might wish to get on the bikes to take a look around.
On Board Grocery Load
As we discussed above, we extremely suggest buying the grocery plan to get you begun on the boat. You will absolutely require to do shopping, however this permits you for some additionals such as coffee, milk, butter, jam, olive oil, sugar, and salt and pepper.
It likewise consists of regional red wine, beer, lemonade, coke, water, and treats such as croissants, bread, biscuits, and chips. We discovered that we wound up utilizing whatever consisting of the aluminum foil which is excellent for cooking on the barbecue. Make certain to buy your grocery pack 7 days beforehand to have it on board when you get here.
It depends on you just how much you wish to buy. There are a lot of locations where you’ll have the ability to eat in restaurants however a minimum of for the opening night, you will desire your own food on board. And we extremely suggest having breakfast, treats, lunches, and sufficient food for a number of suppers on board.
We purchased food for all of our breakfasts, lunch, and for 2 suppers. The very best suggestions we can provide is to prepare your meals ahead of time and choose how typically you wish to consume on the boat. You can’t take the food with you, so if you have a clear concept for each meal, you can purchase meats and cheeses, pastries and suppers throughout of your journey.
Loading Fundamentals for Le Boat on the Canal du Midi
Travelling the Canal du Midi takes place in the summertime in Southern France, so anticipate heat. Load the typical summer-specific clothes like shorts and Tee shirts, however one Le Boat-specific product we can not worry sufficient is to load work gloves to man the locks. The ropes can actually destroy your hands, plus, they are typically slimy. We utilized these gloves however I believe water resistant work gloves would be much better. See these on Amazon.
The Canal du Midi is unclean, boats are permitted (really motivated) to dispose their toilets straight into the canal while driving. We can confirm that many individuals even discarded their black water while docked as the odor wafted into our cabins. Because you are managing ropes that are frequently falling under the water, use gloves when binding and doing the lines. And clean your hands typically.
Another product we want we had was a sun umbrella. We could not put our boat canopy up due to the fact that every couple of hundred meters we needed to go under low bridges. Sun hats are a must. Swimsuit are not required as you can not swim in the Canal du Midi. This umbrella appears like it would have been ideal to have at the captain’s chair.
Sunglasses and field glasses are an excellent concept too. Le Boat in both Ireland and Canada provided field glasses however these waterways are on rivers with open lakes and you require to discover buoys and markers. Field glasses are not required on the Canal du Midi because it is simply a straight narrow canal so you do not require them to browse, however it is great to be able to take a better take a look at the passing surroundings.
Likewise, I extremely suggest bringing a number of parlor game or cards for nights and it’s an excellent concept to load portable speakers for your music.
Portable fan– I have a USB-operated fan that is portable which assisted me a lot when I was overheating. I have actually constantly experienced a Thyroid condition and Tomb illness, so my thermostat has actually never ever been excellent. With the still hot air on the Canal du Midi, I was suffering. My portable handheld fan assisted me a lot when the heat was too extreme.
Pick Your Boat Carefully
Le Boat has numerous various designs of boats. If your spending plan permits, we recommend reserving the Horizon Lines or Premier boats. They are the most recent and run the very best. We have actually driven the Horizon fleet in Canada and Ireland and they actually are the top of the line.
On the Canal du Midi, we had a convenience boat Vision 3. It didn’t deal with rather along with the Horizon and you can anticipate a couple of things to fail on the older boats. For instance, our cooling quit working so they needed to provide us a portable system to utilize. And our battery passed away, so we needed to change out boats part method through our journey.
Le Boat has emergency situation numbers and sends service technicians rapidly, so when something does occur they are on it quickly so you do not require to fret about being stranded. They will constantly exist to assist.
For unskilled boaters, The Horizon Line is remarkable and these are the boats we suggest if your spending plan permits. Our Horizons 3 and 4 boats turned on a cent and the thrusters were so effective you can stop rapidly to prevent any crashes.
Our Vision 3 boat in France took a whole boat length to stop and the thrusters weren’t as effective. This boat took more ability to maneuver.
This is specifically real with the winds on the Canal du Midi. We had a fair bit of experience by this time, however we saw individuals entering into locks sideways, striking other boats, and being blown away while docking. With the more recent designs, this is less most likely. So, if you do not have a great deal of boating experience, we recommend sticking to the brand-new and higher-end designs.
Very Low Bridges on the Canal
Likewise beware, that there are a great deal of low and narrow bridges the whole time the Canal du Midi. We reserved a big three-bedroom boat and it felt nearly too huge. If you aren’t comfy driving through narrow passages, we recommend leasing a smaller sized boat. Le Boat has boat sizes that fit any convenience level and they can go as little as simply having 2 guests.
Going through the low bridges can be an excitement, however it likewise ended up being tedious. We might never ever put our canopy as much as get remedy for the hot sun, we needed to duck each time we went under a bridge so as not to strike our heads. (this can be actually major, so we were frequently advised each other to duck when approaching), and it was constantly a bit difficult that we ‘d strike the sides.
About Barging the Canal du Midi
Travelling the Canal du Midi is on many individuals’s container lists. We enjoyed it however felt that Canada’s Rideau Canal was more our speed. In Canada (and Ireland– more on that cruise coming quickly) we delighted in the broad open waters and less locks compared to the continuous narrow channels and abundance of locks on the Canal du Midi.
That stated, my sister-in-law enjoyed going through the locks and stated that her preferred part was having the experience of going through the locks.
As the captain, Dave discovered that needing to pull over frequently to let individuals was a bit difficult and I discovered that needing to leave the boat numerous times a day was a little bit of a task. I would have chosen to remain on the boat to unwind and delight in the surroundings. However, if you enjoy to work and have a job throughout your journeys, you will enjoy the Canal du Midi.
Going on the Canal du Midi is an excellent method to check out the more off-the-beaten-path locations of France. It takes you back in time to take a trip at a slower rate by yourself time. As one individual stated to us “The Canal du Midi is the ideal location to believe more and rush less.” I like that.