Renting a canal boat and exploring the Canal du Midi by yourself may be fun, but for a truly luxurious canal experience in Languedoc, you can't beat a week on one of France's many canal barge cruises.
The canal barge cruises that ply their way up Languedoc's canals, including the Canal du Midi, feature barges that range in length from 76 to 128 feet - with the smallest sleeping 6 people, and the largest 12. All the canal barges have full time staff who take care of all the navigation and meals (either full board, half-board or B&B) - and most also include a tour guide and stewardess - to serve you chilled rose and point out the best attractions along the way.
Accommodation on Languedoc's canal barge cruises ranges from very comfortable (*** in the tables below) to ultra-luxurious (*****) - and meals tend to be of an excellent quality. Some of the canal barges on the Canal du Midi also sport jaccuzzis (for those cool autumn evenings) and all also carry bikes - so that you can explore the banks of the canals at your leisure.
Most of the canal barges in the south of France are owned and run by married couples, who also hire staff. Most bookings, however, are not done directly with the owners, who tend to farm out the marketing of their canal barge hotel to various travel companies - most of whom sell online.
Prices for luxurious canal barge cruises can be high - especially for the 5-star boats, with per-person costs ranging from €1,600 for the week to €3,400. To charter the entire barge will set you back between €8,000 and €44,000 - depending of course on the size and level of luxury.
Below, we've listed the canal barges currently plying their way up and down the Canal du Midi and Canal Rhone-Sete. We've also listed those websites that you can visit to see more photos of each canal barge and read more about them.
Most of the canal barge cruises on the Canal dud Midi will start either at Beziers or Carcassonne - so we'd recommend flying to Montpellier and Carcassonne ariports respectively.