A trip down France’s beautiful, 300-year-old Canal du Midi makes the perfect wine tour of the famous Languedoc-Roussillon region. It gives you the time you need to see how the stunning landscape of the area has given birth to a rich wine-producing culture.
A journey down this beautiful canal is like stepping back in time. Whether you choose to stop off and see the historic city of Carcassonne, one of the last hiding places of the Languedoc’s persecuted Cathars, or the fourteenth-century Château de Perdiguier, the history of this region permeates its present. And wine has always been at the heart of the region’s story.
Discover the Canal du Midi à la Rick Stein
In his program for the BBC, ‘Rick Stein’s French Odyssey’, the famous chef described travelling by barge and stopping off at local sights as the ideal way to take in the country’s unique scenery and atmosphere.
Stein travelled for much of his journey through France on the Anjodi, a Dutch barge refitted by luxury barge holiday company European Waterways as a barge hotel. The Anjodi currently offers a week-long wine tour down the Canal du Midi so that guests can travel in Stein’s footsteps, discovering the hidden sights and wonderful delicacies of the region.
Explore the Château de Perdiguier
Some tours can drag you from vineyard to vineyard so fast that they all begin to blur into one. It’s worth making sure you take time on your wine tour of Languedoc-Roussillon to stop off at the fascinating wine-producing Château de Perdiguier, as guests on the Anjodi do.
Close to Béziers, the fourteenth-century château with its six elegant rounded towers and original cobblestone courtyard really gives the impression of stepping back in time.
The château was given its name by Jean Perdiguier, who was gifted it for services to Charles V in 1375. Unfortunately Perdiguier decided to impose rather strong taxes on his tenants and, as a result, was murdered just four years later.
Added to over the course of its history, and now owned by the Feracci family for three generations, the château was declared a historic monument of France back in the 1960s.
Today the Domaine Perdiguier produces a variety of goods from grain and honey to fruit and walnuts across its 200 hectares but it is still most famous for its eight varieties of vines grown over just 25 hectares. Most of its vines are cabernet sauvignon and merlot but there are also some pinot noir, cinsault, syrah, chardonnay and petit verdot.
Visit the château for a wine tour and you’ll be taken around its beautiful vaulted cellars with its rows upon rows of oak casks where the precious product is aged. On a tour you will also have the unique opportunity to taste some of the estate’s spectacular wines at their source. My personal favourite is the cabernet-merlot blend, En Auger.
This is a beautiful region to explore – but don’t just sit on a coach being ferried from one estate to another! Rather, take a leisurely trip down one of France’s oldest man-made waterways and discover the historic treasures of the Languedoc-Roussillon at your own gentle pace.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider if you're looking for an all-inclusive, luxury wine tour barge holiday in France or other great destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.