Experience the best spots along the canal on a Golden Midi Cruise

Thursday, 16 February 2012 12:26 PM

If you enjoy holidays in picturesque rural surroundings with plenty to see and do, consider booking a Golden Midi Cruise. This sort of France boating holiday is a great way to spend a short break, as the Midi Canal flows past a wealth of interesting settlements and landmarks.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the waterway was built in the 17th century, when it was hailed as one of the era's finest feats of engineering. It connects the Atlantic with the Mediterranean and stretches through the Languedoc region, which is renowned as one of France's most prolific wine-producing areas.

If you've only got a short amount of time to spend on a trip here, you're sure to find travelling by boat is the perfect way to get around, allowing you to take in much more of a destination than you otherwise might on a getaway where you are based in just one location.

Begin your canal break at the pleasure resort of Port Cassafieres, which is situated close to the Mediterranean Sea and as such, has some fine beaches. How better to begin your getaway than by relaxing on the sand before embarking on your journey?

When you've established yourself onboard and are ready to set sail, make your way to one of the largest towns to be found along the waterway - Beziers. The historical location boasts numerous landmarks, so climb ashore here and explore.

Formerly a Roman settlement, the town's older elements can be seen in the form of the Roman church of La Madeleine and the antique St Etienne Cathedral. Soak up some culture at the Musee des Beaux Arts, head to Golf Saint Thomas to practise your swing or make your way through the pretty public park of Le Plateau des Poetes.

From here, you can access the centre of the settlement, and if you're visiting in the morning, be sure to take a look at the covered market. A huge open market is held on a Friday, meanwhile.

After you've taken in all that Beziers has to offer, journey on to the charming spot of Ventenac. If you make a brief stop here, you'll be able to admire the local chateau and also learn more about the process of wine-making at the museum on the first floor of the fortress.

The next port of call you may visit is Homps - an ancient place that was once the location where barrels of Minervois and Corbieres wines were loaded on to boats and shipped off to Bordeaux.

While this form of transporting the locally-produced drink is now obsolete, the trade itself is still going strong, and you can head to one of the nearby wine cellars for a tour and a tasting session.

If you want to take in some of the sights, admire the tower of the Knights of Malta or call in at the Roman chapel. However, if you'd rather get your adrenalin pumping, why not spend some time at Lac de Jouarres, a reservoir close to the Canal du Midi?

Here, you can hire a pedalo or a canoe, or even have a go at windsurfing.

There are plenty of things to do on waterways throughout the region, especially for history buffs. Back onboard, you can make your way next to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Carcassone, a medieval settlement full of fascinating landmarks.

Once you climb ashore you'll be able to admire a castle and ramparts, as well as the beautiful 12th-century Basilica St Nazaire, which has both Gothic and Romanesque elements.

If you've got energy to burn, you might enjoy a long, leisurely stroll through the outdoor forest park. Alternatively, call in at the town's leisure park for a game of volleyball or a round of golf.

The last stop you might make on your holiday is at Castelnaudary - the home of the cassoulet. This dish - made of haricot beans and meat like pork hock, duck confit or garlic sausage - is a type of stew that is hearty and filling, so be sure to sample various incarnations if you plan to stay in the area for more than a day.

You can also take a look round to admire the old Cugarel Windmill and call in at the Presidial Museum, which is full of fascinating artefacts that date as far back as prehistoric times.

With so much to see and do, you're sure to want to start looking for Midi Canal boat hire as soon as possible!


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