Archives : 2013 : December

Carcassonne – The Jewel of Languedoc and the Canal du Midi

December 19th, 2013

Daily excursions are a highlight of a canal or river barge cruise. When cruising in the south of France on the Canal du Midi, you are immersed in a region which offers natural beauty, a rich history, and many lovely villages and small towns to explore on foot or by bike.

Carcassonne - a medieval city nestled in the Languedoc vineyards

Carcassonne- a medieval city nestled in Languedoc vineyards

Carcassonne – a Canal du Midi Barge Cruise Attraction

Carcassonne, a stunning fortified town that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a highlight of the Canal du Midi barge trips. Though people have been living on this site for millennia, since before Roman times, Carcassonne is mainly known as a prime example of a European medieval fortified town – maybe the best of its kind in all of Europe. It is amazingly well-preserved and is yours to explore with all of its ramparts and towers.


St. Nazaire Basilica is known for its extraordinary stained glass

Carcassonne Sightseeing

What is there to see and do in Carcassonne?

  • Transport yourself to medieval times as you explore the amazing fortifications with its double walls and winding streets.
  • Find the bust of Madame Carcas at the Narbonne gate and learn about the legend of how she saved Carcassonne from a siege ending in the joyous ringing of bells (“Carcas sona”)
  • Step into the ancient and majestic Basilica of St. Nazaire. The grand organ and colorful windows can’t be missed. Simon de Montfort, leader of the crusade against the Cathars of Languedoc, was buried in the basilica before being moved by one of his sons.
  • Visit Chateau Comtal and walk the ramparts for beautiful views of the countryside.
  • Brave a visit to the Torture Museum, which displays a variety of medieval instruments of torture.
  • Try some of the local dishes, including cassoulet, which combines sausage, duck, and beans.

Be sure to bring a camera with you and take lots of photos of the architectural details. Soak in the atmosphere and get transported to another era. Your tour guide with the barge will give your visit more meaning, as you’ll better understand the historical significance of this very strategic site.


Ancient Carcassonne overlooks the new city and the Canal du Midi

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The Canal du Midi – an Engineering Marvel

Contact us for more details about our barge trips on the Canal du Midi. We will take you to unforgettable locales.

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988

Cruise an Engineering Marvel on the Canal du Midi

December 11th, 2013

There are almost a thousand UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and most of the cultural sites in France are buildings. However, deep in southern France is a UNESCO Heritage Site that you can enjoy in leisurely comfort from the deck of a canals of France barge – the Canal du Midi, an engineering marvel of the seventeenth century.

Canal du Midi: A Work of Art

The Canal du Midi was first envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci when he visited France in the early sixteenth century. The idea was to connect the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea via a link between the Garonne and Aude Rivers. The project, which was spearheaded by a Frenchman named Pierre-Paul Riquet, began in 1654 and ultimately completed in 1694, 13 years after his death. The total length of the waterway, including the river portions, is 360 kilometers.


Map courtesy of Wikipedia

Thousands of workers were employed (12,000 at the peak of the project), including 600 women when there were not enough men available! Together this workforce constructed 328 elements in this industrial work of art, including locks, aqueducts, bridges, spillways, and tunnels. The total cost of the project was over 15 million livres, and the result was a functional communications and transportation waterway that symbolized the power of seventeenth-century France. Its impact extended to the development of a number of canals across Great Britain and even America, where George Washington was involved in a number of canal development projects.


8 passenger barge Anjodi cruises on the Canal du Midi. Photo courtesy of

Canal du Midi Barging: The Languedoc Wine Region

The designers of the Canal du Midi were very aware of the impact of this project on the local landscape, creating designs that were both monumental and elegantly simple. Today it traverses the Languedoc wine region, providing a scenic and historic backdrop for ten of our luxurious barges. While no longer used for communications or commerce, you can still enjoy the beauty of this transportation marvel. From the intimate Emma to the ultimate Enchante, you can appreciate the charm of the Canal du Midi while also sampling the delights of local winery tours, regional cuisine and stupendous sightseeing opportunities in medieval abbeys and hilltop towns.


The 6 passenger ultra deluxe Roi Soleil s-l-o-w-l-y passes under a Canal du Midi bridge. Photo courtesy of Roi Soleil.

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Carcassonne – the Jewel of Languedoc and the Canal du Midi
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For more information and to arrange your own experience of this engineering marvel, contact us today.

Happy travels,

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988

A Canal Barge Cruise or a River Cruise? What is the Difference?

December 3rd, 2013

Perhaps you’ve seen the ads on television, with the large, stately vessels floating along a scenic European river, and you think to yourself, “that sounds like a lovely, relaxed way to see Europe.” And you would be right!


We represent Uniworld River Cruises from Paris to Normandy

Then you hear about barge cruises on the canals, and wonder, “what is the difference?”

48mcxFkQ0wRE6pfTYmgxl4ecPWFUzeeeUMCq33Byhow1 – your gateway to the world of canal cruising

It’s like comparing apples and oranges – they are both delicious. I often say a barge cruise is like being welcomed into a charming boutique country inn and a river cruise is like staying in a fine, elegant hotel. I hope this information helps you decide which is the best cruise for you and your interests. Or, like some of our clients, they do both and “vive la difference!”

Features of a canal barge cruise

  • An intimate, personalized experience with 4-21 passengers and friendly crew
  • Cruise on scenic man-made canals through small villages, vineyards and pastoral countryside covering approximately 50 miles
  • Canals are excellent for walking and biking while the barge is floating along – bicycles provided
  • Customized itineraries for private charters are gladly provided
  • Barge trips are 6 nights, usually starting on Sunday or Saturday
  • Everyone dines together at one table with one menu, creating a festive, homey atmosphere
  • Often operated by the owners who are captain and chef and have put their heart and soul into your barge cruising experience
  • Small group excursions allow for private visits to savor local culture
  • Prices range from $3,500 – $8,000

Enjoy browsing our website with 40+ canal barge cruises to choose from.

Features of a river cruise

  • With an average of 130 passengers, you can socialize with a diverse group
  • Cruise on large rivers with moorings in river towns
  • Walking and biking are possible only when the ship is moored. Some ships provide bicycles.
  • River cruises are 7-21 nights and can cover many miles in several countries
  • Dining is similar to an excellent gourmet restaurant
  • A broad overview of many cities and sights
  • Operated by an English speaking, multi-national crew
  • Often a selection of excursions to choose from
  • On excursions, passengers are typically divided into groups and transported to sights on buses
  • Prices start at $3,000 per person and vary by stateroom category and season.

Features of both canal barge cruises and river cruises

  • Guided excursions including entrance fees are included. There may be optional excursions available with a supplement, i.e, hot air ballooning, golf, etc.
  • All meals and wines are included (some half board plans are available on small charter barges). Barge cruises and some river cruises offer an open bar.
  • Dietary restrictions are gladly accommodated.


Ready to go barging or river cruising? Contact us today to experience the unparalleled beauty and experience of a vacation on the water, with all the individual attention of a personalized, and personal-sized, canal barge cruise or elegant river cruise.

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988