Minervois Cruisers

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Once you have decided to hire a canal boat on the Canal du Midi and the next step is choosing your cruising route. Our boat rental base in Le Somail is the ideal starting point for some wonderful cruises on these historic South of France canals and we have a number of suggested routes below.

These routes are based on around 4-5 hours cruising per day (excluding arrival and departure days), for a relaxing holiday. However, you can of course cruise for longer to travel further if you wish.

Our friendly English staff will be very happy to make personal recommendations for your group, including restaurants, markets and local wineries.

 

One week canal cruising routes

Suggested Route 1
1 Week - Beziers (Fonserannes) - Homps

Suggested Route 1
  • Distance: 122 Kms
  • Locks: 12 Locks

Itinerary

Argeliers

Argeliers

Day 1 Spend your first night in Le Somail and visit one of the canal-side restaurants or travel as far as Argeliers (6km) where there are several restaurants and a small shop.

Day 2 Head for Capestang (17km from Argeliers). It is a small attractive town with a good range of facilities, including a market on Sunday and Wednesday mornings in the square. There are also bars and restaurants clustered around the square and the church is well worth a visit. There is a supermarket (intermarche) on the outskirts of town - but it is a good walk. You can either stop here the night or continue through the Malpas Tunnel to Colombiers (a further 11 kms from Capestang). At Columbiers there is a modern Port area with a range of shops, restaurants an an ATM machine.

Capestang

Capestang

Day 3 From Capestang or Colombiers, head to Beziers (7 kms from Colombiers), and moor at the top of the Fonserannes Staircase Locks - they are spectacular. Have a good look round and watch the boats negotiating the locks. Afterwards, either visit Beziers (you can get a bus or it is around a 45 minute walk) or head back to Columbiers for the night.

Day 4 From Columbiers, head past Capestang, through Le Somail and start in the direction of Carcassonne. The moorings at Ventenac are nice, with two restaurants and a wine cave.

Beziers

Beziers

Day 5 From Ventenac head towards the first lock at Argen Minervois (9 kms), then start the climb towards Homps - a further 6 kms and 5 locks (1 single and 2 doubles). Homps has an attractive canal frontage with a good range of restuarants and boat facilities.

Day 6 From Homps you could continue (12 kms and 3 locks) through La Redorte to the locks at Aiguille, famous for the lock keeper's sculptures. Turn prior to the locks and head back to Homps.

Day 7 From Homps, you continue the descent towards Le Somail, arriving there mid to late afternoon.

 

Suggested Route 2
1 Week - Beziers (Fonserannes) and Narbonne

Suggested Route 2
  • Distance: 108 Kms
  • Locks: 20 Locks

Itinerary

Beziers

Beziers

Day 1 Spend the evening in Le Somail and eat at one of the canal-side restaurants or travel 6km to Argeliers where there is a restaurant by the canal and further restaurants and a pizzeria a short walk into the village centre.

Day 2 Cruise 4 hours (17km) to the attractive town of Capestang where you will find a market every Wednesday and Sunday morning and a selection of bars and restaurants near the impressive church in the main square. Stay overnight or carry on through the Malpas tunnel and stop at the modern port of Colombiers.

Salles d'Aude

Salles d'Aude

Day 3 Head into to Beziers (7 kms from Colombiers), stopping before the Fonserannes locks and take the bus from the car park into Beziers, or take a stroll into the city, which takes around 45 minutes. Don't miss the views from the cathedral and enjoy shopping and people watching from one of the pavement cafes. In the afternoon set off back to Colombiers.

Day 4 Continue back past Argeliers and then turn left on the Canal de Jonction towards Salleles d'Aude (34 kms and 5 locks). Make your way down through the 7 locks stopping when you pass the iron bridge. There is a large supermarket less than 10 minutes walk and you will find several restaurants, an atm and a pharmacy.

Narbonne

Narbonne

Day 5 Continue down the remaining locks and briefly onto the River Aude followed by the Canal de la Robine towards Narbonne (12 kms and 5 locks). Moor up in the port area of Narbonne and explore this lovely city.

Day 6 Don't miss the lively indoor market, Les Halles, open every morning from 7am - 2pm. Explore Narbonne for the rest of the day or get the bus to the coast for a day at the beach. Visit the tourist office next to the canal for the latest bus timetable.

Day 7 From Narbonne, make your way back to Le Somail.

 

Suggested Route 3
1 Week - Trebes (for Carcassonne)

Suggested Route 3
  • Distance: 96 Kms
  • Locks: 40 Locks

Itinerary

Le Somail

Le Somail

Day 1 Stay at Le Somail overnight or travel as far as Ventenac (5 kms). Here there are 2 bars/restaurants, a large Vin Cave and a small shop.

Day 2 From Ventenac head towards the first lock at Argens Minervois (9 kms), then start the climb towards Homps - a further 6 kms and 5 locks (1 single and 2 doubles). Homps has an attractive canal frontage with a range of good restaurants and boat facilities.

Aiguille locks

Aiguille locks

Day 3 From Homps you could continue through La Redorte, stopping for lunch at the locks at Aiguille, famous for the lock keepers sculptures (12 kms and 3 locks or 5 locks if you go through and lunch at the top). Marseillette is a further 7 kms and 6 locks away - excluding the Aiguille pair (1 double, 1 triple and 1 single). There are excellent moorings at Marseillette but the Water Point is expensive.

Day 4 From Marseillette it is 9 kms until the triple staircase locks that take you up into Trebes. From here it is 10 minutes by Taxi to La Cite at Carcassonne. Taking the boat to Carcassonne from Trebes is a further 13 kms and 7 locks in each direction.

Carcassone

Carcassone

Day 5 to 7 Reverse your journey. If you are not experienced on the canals, you will be delighted to discover that a canal looks different in each direction. The return journey will be just as pleasurable as the outward-bound leg.

Note: At certain times of the peak season, you may need to set La Redorte as a reasonable goal.

 

Suggested Route 4
1 Week - The Coast

Suggested Route 4
  • Distance: 130 Kms
  • Locks: 24 Locks

Itinerary

Malpas Tunnel

Malpas Tunnel

Day 1 Spend your first night in Le Somail or cruise to Argeliers (6 kms) where there are a number of restaurants, a pizzeria anda small shop.

Day 2 Head for Capestang (17 kms from Argeliers) with its bars, restaurants and impressive church in the main square and either stop here the night or continue through the Malpas Tunnel to the modern port of Colombiers (a further 11 kms from Capestang).

Agde

Agde

Day 3 From Colombiers you need an early start to head to Beziers (7 kms) arriving at the top of the Fonserannes Staircase Locks in readiness for the first morning descents - there is a lock timetable in your Boat Manual. On leaving the "Neuf Ecluses", you travel along an embankment before crossing the River Orb on a spectacular aqueduct. After this you enter the cavernous Orb Lock and descend into Beziers Port. Stay here or continue as far as Villeneuve les Beziers where there is a picturesque square with several restaurants.

Day 4 Leave Beziers Port and continue towards Agde (5 locks and 23 kms away). As you leave Beziers the canal initially passes a number of industrial sites and the traffic is much closer but it soon returns to its picturesque nature. On arrival at Agde (PK 231), there is a marina area where you must turn round. For Insurance purposes, our craft are not permitted to pass through the round lock (Bassin Ronde).

Occitanie beach

Occitanie beach

Day 5 to 7 Start the return journey back to Le Somail. You now have sufficient knowledge to plan your return stops but do not forget the "traffic flow" timings at Fonserranes. If you are not experienced on the canals, you will be delighted to discover that a canal looks different in each direction. The return journey will be just as pleasurable as the outward-bound leg.

 

Suggested Route 5
1 Week - Narbonne and Port la Nouvelle

Suggested Route 5
  • Distance: 130 Kms
  • Locks: 24 Locks

Itinerary

Port Minervois

Port Minervois

Day 1 Stay at Le Somail overnight or travel as far as Port Minervois where there is a snack bar and access to the river for swimming..

Day 2 Turn onto the Canal de Jonction towards Salleles d'Aude (6 kms and 5 locks). Salleles d'Aude offers a range of shops, bars/restaurants. From Salleles d'Aude continue down the Canal de Jonction before entering the River Aude for a short time then heading onto the Canal de la Robine towards Narbonne (12 kms and 5 locks) into the port area.

Salleles d'Aude

Salleles d'Aude

Day 3 From Narbonne continue on the Canal de la Robine to the Nature Reserve at the Isle of Sainte-Lucie. There are moorings here and it is an area of outstanding beauty. Port la Nouvelle (16 kms and 1 lock) from Narbonne Centre.

Day 4 The end of the Canal de la Robine is at Port la Nouvelle (5 kms and 1 lock) where you must turn. You can moor here and walk 1 km along the main road, passing the commercial port, to the beach. Port la Nouvelle is well served by a wide range of restaurants, particularly those specialising in fish dishes.

Narbonne

Narbonne

Day 5 to 6 You now start the return journey, aiming to reach Narbonne Spend some time exploring Narbonne - the morning indoor market is a mouth-watering exercise, particularly if you are a fish lover.

Day 7 Start the day by passing through Gua Lock and heading back towards Salleles d'Aude again for lunch. After lunch, pass through the remaining locks of the Canal de Jonction before returning to Le Somail (or its outskirts) in readiness for your handover.

 

Two week canal cruising routes

Suggested Route 6
2 Weeks - Carcassonne and Castelnaudary

Suggested Route 6
  • Distance: 202 Kms
  • Locks: 102 Locks

Itinerary

Argens Minervois

Argens Minervois

Day 1 Stay at Le Somail overnight or travel as far as Ventenac (5 kms). Here there are 2 bars/restaurants, a large Vin Cave and a small shop.

Day 2 From Ventenac head towards the first lock at Argens Minervois (9 kms), then start the climb towards Homps - a further 6 kms and 5 locks (1 single and 2 doubles). Homps has an attractive canal frontage with a range of good restaurants and boat facilities.

Homps

Homps

Day 3 From Homps you could continue through La Redorte, stopping for lunch at the locks at Aiguille, famous for the lock keepers sculptures (12 kms and 3 locks or 5 locks if you go through and lunch at the top). Marseillette is a further 7 kms and 6 locks away - excluding the Aiguille pair (1 double, 1 triple and 1 single). There are excellent moorings at Marseillette but the Water Point is expensive.

Day 4 From Marseillette it is 9 kms until the triple staircase locks that take you up into Trebes. Trebes offers a good range of facilities for lunch or evening stopovers. If you continue, Carcassonne is a further 13 kms and 7 locks. The port area at Carcassonne offers a range of facilities but does levy a charge. There are free moorings before the port area. In either case, La Cite beckons and, for many, this is one of the "must see" attractions of a Canal du Midi holiday.

Carcassone

Carcassone

Day 5 Visit La Cite. Castelnaudary is still some 40kms and 24 locks distant. You are advised to top up your water tank before leaving Carcassonne as there are only limited facilities before arriving at the port areas of either Bram or Castelnaudary itself.

Day 6 On leaving Carcassonne, head for the port area at Bram (24 kms and 6 locks). The Port de Bram is actually a Nicols base and offers water facilities etc. (A further 5 kms and 3 locks offers good moorings near the village of Villepinte which has basic shops and a restaurant within 10 minutes walk.)

Castelnaudary

Castelnaudary

Day 7 From Port de Bram it is 16 kms and 18 locks to the Grand Bassin at Castelnaudary - a good days cruising. The Grand Bassin is spectacular - nearly half a kilometre in length.

Days 8 - 14 Start the return journey back to Le Somail - you now have sufficient knowledge to plan your return stops. If you are not experienced on the canals, you will be delighted to discover that a canal looks different in each direction. The return journey will be just as pleasurable as the outward-bound leg.

 

Short break canal cruising routes

Suggested Midweek Route 1
Beziers (Fonserannes)

Suggested Midweek Route 1

Itinerary

Day 1 Stay at Le Somail overnight or travel as far as Argeliers (6 kms) where there is a restaurant and a small shop.

Day 2 Head for Capestang (17 kms from Argeliers). It is a small attractive town with a good range of facilities. There are bars and restaurants clustered round the square and the church is well worth a visit. You can either stop here the night or continue through the Malpas Tunnel to Colombiers (a further 11 kms from Capestang). At Colombiers there is a modern Port area with a range of shops, restaurants and an ATM machine.

Day 3 From Capestang or Colombiers, head to Beziers (7 kms from Colombiers), and moor at the top of Fonserannes Staircase Locks - they are spectacular. Have a good look round and watch boats negotiating the locks. Afterwards, either visit Beziers or head back towards Colombiers for the night.

Day 4 From Colombiers, head back past Capestang to Le Somail.

Day 5 Hand back your boat.

 

 

Suggested Midweek Route 2
Ecluse d'Aiguille

Suggested Midweek Route 2

Itinerary

Day 1 Stay at Le Somail overnight or travel as far as Ventenac (5 kms). Here there are 2 bars/restaurants, a large Vin Cave and a small shop. Alternatively, continue as far as Roubia, where there is also a restaurant.

Day 2 From Ventenac head towards the first lock at Argens Minervois (9 kms), then start the climb towards Homps - a further 6 kms and 5 locks (1 single and 2 doubles). Homps has an attractive canal frontage with a range of good restaurants and boat facilities.

Be very careful at the second double lock (Ognon) as the water rushes from the sluices and hits the sill, then can splash into the boat. Make sure you shut all bow doors and hatches before going up in locks.

Day 3 From Homps continue through La Redorte, stopping for lunch at the locks at Aiguille, famous for the lock keepers sculptures (12 kms and 3 locks away). Turn the boat here before the locks and start the journey back to Homps.

Day 4 From Homps, retrace your steps to Le Somail.

Day 5 Hand back your boat.

 

Suggested Weekend Route 1
Capestang/Colombiers

Suggested Weekend Route 1

Itinerary

Day 1 Stay at Le Somail overnight or travel as far as Argeliers (6 kms) where there is a restaurant and a small shop

Day 2 Head for Colombiers (28 kms from Argeliers) passing through Capestang, Poilhes and the Malpas Tunnel en route. Colombiers is a small attractive village with bars and restaurants clustered round the Port/Marina, where there is also an ATM Machine.

Day 3 From Colombiers, get an early start and head back to Capestang. It is a small attractive town with good range of facilities, including a French Produce Market on Sunday mornings in the square. There are also bars and restaurants clustered round the square where a leisurely lunch can be enjoyed and the church is well worth a visit. In the afternoon, start your return journey to Le Somail.

Day 4 Hand back your boat.

 

Suggested Weekened Route 2
Homps

Suggested Weekened Route 2

Itinerary

Day 1 Stay at Le Somail overnight or travel as far as Ventenac (5 kms). Here there are 2 bars/restaurants, a large Vin Cave and a small shop. Alternatively, continue as far as Roubia, where there is also a restaurant

Day 2 From Ventenac/Roubia head towards the first lock at Argens Minervois then start the climb towards Homps - a further 6 kms and 5 locks (1 single and 2 doubles). Homps has an attractive canal frontage with a range of good restaurants and boat facilities.

Be very careful at the second double lock (Ognon) as the water rushes from the sluices and hits the sill, then can splash into the boat. Make sure you shut all bow doors and hatches before going up in locks.

Day 3 Retrace your steps as you return to Le Somail.

Day 4 Hand back your boat.