What to See on Wine Tours Down the Canal du Midi

Wine tours through the beautiful, historic Languedoc region offer visitors the opportunity to explore the fascinating past and rich culture of this excellent winegrowing area.

Taking a leisurely barge cruise down the Canal du Midi is the perfect way to really see this beautiful region, stopping off along the way to discover some of the area’s captivating sights.

Here is a list of some of our favourite places to visit along the Canal du Midi.

Carcassonne

Steeped in the turbulent history of the Languedoc region, the medieval citadel at Carcassonne is a truly fascinating place to explore.

First built as a fortress in the Gallo-Roman era, it was expanded into a protected city in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The fortified centre known as La Cité was the sight of a great siege when the Catholic French invaded in the thirteenth century.

The original fortifications are still standing and the Château Comtal, a castle within the city walls, runs exhibitions and tours.

The Medieval Village of Minerve

Another victim of the Albigensian Crusade by the Catholic French, who wanted to drive the ‘heretic’ Cathars from the Languedoc in the thirteenth century, was the medieval hilltop village of Minerve.

Today this pretty, picturesque hillside village is the capital of the Minervois wine region and offers a more peaceful place to stop and take in the stunning views. It’s an absolute must for wine tours of the area.

Fonserannes Lock

The benefit of taking wine tours of the Languedoc region by boat is the chance to not only see but to pass through the beautiful engineering feat which is the Fonserannes Lock.

With eight different water chambers and nine gates, this staircase lock allows barges to travel up 21.5 metres over a distance of 300 metres.

Stop off at the top for some of the most stunning views of the region, looking out over the plains to the Pyrenees.

Narbonne Market

This daily, indoor market is held in a beautiful, one hundred-year-old Baltard-style pavilion. Inside the bustling marketplace more than 70 stalls offer a range of local produce and delicacies.

Everything from bread and patisseries to cheese and local hams are sold here, making it well worth a visit for foodies. There is also a good selection of wine merchants so it’s a great place to stock up on some of the excellent local reds and whites. You could even arrange to have a few shipped home to enjoy when you get back.

Petite Camargue

This beautiful marshland plain, just to the west of the Camargue’s Petit Rhône, is part of the river delta where the Rhône meets the Mediterranean. Famous for its natural wildlife including flamingos, African rollers and cattle, a gentle, meandering boat ride is the only way to truly experience this unique landscape.

Make sure you stop off during your time in the Petite Camargue for lunch and try some of the delicious local oysters and mussels on offer in the cafés and restaurants here.

The leisurely pace of a canal cruise is the perfect way to explore the fascinating and unique area of the Languedoc region as it gives you the time you need to really experience the landscape you travel through.

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge holidays. Offering holidays to France and other great destinations, itineraries include wine tours and other cultural and themed activities. 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. 

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Author: Desiree Michels