The Canal du Midi

June 27th, 2011

We have recently returned from a marvellous month’s holiday in France.  May is one of the best times to travel over there.  It is late Spring and this year (UK and France are in drought) we had perfect weather.  I can highly recommend the canal boat we booked for a week on the Canal du Midi, one of prettiest stretches of the vast canal system in France.  ‘Tango’ is a beautifully restored 1930s traditional canal boat — 30 metres long and with generous living and deck areas.  It accommodates 6-8 people in 4 ensuite cabins.  We had skipper and owner Daniel, chef Tony, guide Christophe and the gorgeous Angie to look after our every need — all speak perfect English. 

We spent a week gliding along the canal (at walking pace) enjoying wonderful meals aboard, and every day Christophe took us off for a few hours adventure to nearby villages, chateaux, a winery, fresh food markets and historic towns.  This is the best way to holiday … unpack only once for the week and your floating hotel follows you.  We ended up at Carcassonne, one of the most amazing restored medieval cities in the world.  And ate (in a little hidden restaurant up a back lane) the best Cassoulet ever — though I think our chef Graham Waddell’s version on our current Winter Menu is equal to it.

This type of holiday is quite intimate and you interact closely with the crew.  I don’t think it would suit teenagers or small children though.  It is quiet, contemplative, visually stunning and a total delight.  Everything is included in your holiday price:  all meals, drinks, wines, trips and restaurants off the boat.

One highlight was an unusual lunch in the markets at Narbonne. Chez Bebelle is owned by a popular retired rugby player whose cafe adjoins two butchers — one selling horse meat and the other beef.  When you put in your order, Bebelle uses a megaphone to shout the cut of meat required from one of these butchers.  The meat is wrapped and then hurled 10 metres over the heads of customers.   The atmosphere is a hoot … chaotic, loud and buzzing with happy customers munching on their steak et frittes.  Prices are very reasonable and the place is always full at lunchtime. 

We had just spent half an hour wandering the fresh food markets which was packed with the most wonderful fresh produce.  Acres of terrines & cheeses, rabbits and chicken with their heads still on, white asaparagus and amazing mushrooms.  Our guide Christophe bought a huge platter of the freshest prawns, sea snails and oysters to have whilst we waited for our steaks to be cooked.  Highly recommended!   More details about ‘Tango’ go to www.canalsoffrance.com

2 Responses to “The Canal du Midi”

  1. Jacqui Kingon 11 Jul 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Hi Marilyn,

    Sounds like you had a great trip. Ours as fabulous. We must catch up soon to prepare notes. (our cassoulet in Carcassonne was just dreadful) We will have to try the one at Baguette very soon.

    Love to Francis.

    Jacqui and David.

  2. Jacqui Kingon 11 Jul 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Marilyn,

    Sounds like you had a great trip. Ours as fabulous. We must catch up soon to prepare notes. (our cassoulet in Carcassonne was just dreadful) We will have to try the one at Baguette very soon.

    Love to Francis.

    Jacqui and David.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image