Guests are met in Carcassonne and transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Clair de Lune. The crew welcomes you on board with a glass of chilled champagne and canapés. Time for a short cruise before your first dinner on board.
This morning, we enjoy a relaxing cruise along the canal, negotiating a series of locks and crossing the aqueduct at Fresquel before passing through Carcassonne to moor at Herminis. After lunch on board, your guide will accompany you to Carcassonne, the restored and most complete medieval fortified city in existence today, dating back to the Gallo Roman era. With its 52 watchtowers, portcullis and extraordinary repertoire of defences, it resisted the many armies that tried to storm this Camelot setting. You can walk the ramparts and step back in time. Dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 Herminis to Bram
After breakfast, we continue our meandering cruise along the canal with plenty of opportunity to walk or cycle the ever-present towpath, to moor at Bram, a wonderfully preserved example of a ‘Circulade’ village. This afternoon, we visit Limoux, home of the distinctive sparkling wine, for a private wine tasting at a renowned winery, before continuing to Rennes-le-Château. This picturesque hilltop village has been at the centre of some intriguing mysteries over time, from the search for the Holy Grail, to the supposed secret riches of a 19th century priest. Dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 Bram to Lasbordes
This morning, we take a drive through the plains of the Lauraigais region, with its fields of sunflowers and views of the distant, snow-capped Pyrenées. We stop at the village of Fanjeaux to see its ancient Cathar citadel, before continuing on to the medieval town of Mirepoix, a town famed for its central square of half-timbered houses supported on wooden pillars creating a magnificent covered arcade. We enjoy lunch in a typical French restaurant, before returning to the hotel barge for our afternoon cruise through the delightful Lauraigais countryside, to our mooring near Lasbordes. Dinner on board.
Thursday, Day 5 Lasbordes to Castelnaudary
Our cruise this morning sees the barge climbing through triple and quadruple locks to Castelnaudary and we enter the renowned Grand Bassin, with its one kilometre circumference, negotiating one of the lowest bridges on the Canal du Midi. After lunch on board, we enjoy a tour of Castelnaudary itself, recognised as the world capital of the delicious French stew, cassoulet. There is a lot to see, including the town’s last remaining 17th century windmill, the unique Chapel of our Lady of Mercy housing an exceptional collection of gilded wooden panels and the Gothic Collegiale with its outstanding bell tower. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 Castelnaudary to Naurouze
This morning we cruise to our final destination, Naurouze, which at around 620 feet, is the highest point on the Canal du Midi. Nearby, in a beautiful park is the outline of an octagonal basin and a monument erected to commemorate Pierre Paul Riquet’s amazing achievement in building the historic Canal du Midi. After lunch on board, we drive to beautiful Lac St. Ferreol. Here, an enormous earth dam was created back in the 1600’s and we see the intricate irrigation system that supplies water to the Canal du Midi that we love today. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
Saturday, Day 7 Naurouze
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to their choice of location in Carcassonne.
*This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. On alternate weeks the cruise is in the reverse direction.