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Canal boating Canal du Midi - Languedoc
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Languedoc canal boating
Home > Explore The Region > Activities > Canal du Midi > Canal Boating

Canal boating in Languedoc


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Languedoc may well be the best place in the world to go canal boating - with three canal systems weaving their way through hundreds of miles of beautiful countryside. The Canal du Midi is the most famous of the three - and the longest. It stretches between Toulouse in the west to the Mediterranean near Agde. During the summer, canal boats ply their way up and down the canal, past the many locks (where lock-keepers sell local delicacies), under a canopy of plane trees, past pretty stone villages and old bridges. Canal boating is a great way to explore Languedoc, as there are many places to moor and get a bite to eat, or explore the surrounding countryside.


Cnal du Midi at CapestangCanal boating east from Toulouse, through Languedoc's fields of sunflowers, you enter into the Minervois wine region, with its superb red wines. Carcassonne is the next city on the canal boating route, dominated by its famous medieval fortress. From there, the plane-tree-lined canal meanders slowly under pretty stone bridges, past traditional villages until you reach Beziers, another small city with a pretty town centre. From here, your canal boat gets closer to the sea, where at Agde it enters Languedoc's 'Etang de Thau', an enormous salt-water lake. This is where the Canal du Midi becomes the 'Canal Rhone Sete', heading past the seaside towns of Sete, Palavas and Carnon and up in to The Camargue, a huge marshland populated by flamingoes, wind bulls and white horses. Eventually, you reach the walled town of Aigues Mortes, and continue on to the border with Provence at Beaucaire - from which you can visit Nimes and the Pont du Gard.


So where should you start and end your canal boating journey in Languedoc? Well - classic Canal du Midi boating territory, with its plane-tree-lined banks and pretty bridges, is really between Trèbes and Capestang. Languedoc is greener and less built-up here - so your canal boat experience will be a more relaxed and traditional one. Once you approach Beziers, you hit suburbia and general sprawl - so it's not quite as pretty. But there's more in the way of shopping and city life to enjoy from your canal boat rental. Canal boating in the Etang - between Agde and Sete, feels like you're almost in the sea - with wide open vistas and fishing villages in the distance. This canal boating area of Languedoc is great for seafood, and Marseillan, Meze and Bouzigues are all very charming. Palavas, Lattes and Carnon are to be avoided - although they, again, are quite lively. Then you're into the Camargue of Languedoc, which again is a very different canal boating experience, with its salt mountains and vibrant bird life. So - lots of diverse canal boating to choose from in Languedoc - but the choice ultimately is yours...


Languedoc's 3 canals

Some canal highlights (and lowlights)


castelnaudary canal boatingCastelnaudary


Home of Languedoc's 'cassoulet' (a heavy stew of duck, sausage and beans) Castelnaudary is the largest town between Toulouse and Carcassonne, and a popular canal boating launch pad. Fly to either Carcassonne or Toulouse to get to the canal boat hire centre here.

carcassonne canal boatingCarcassonne


Famous for La Cité - the world's largest medieval fortress - Carcassonne is a pleasant city of streets arranged in a grid - with a lovely square in the middle that boasts lots of cafes and restaurants. The canal here is not too pretty - improving at Trèbes. The airport is 15 minutes drive from the canal hire centre.

trebes canal boatingTrèbes


A charming Languedoc town just outside Carcassonne. This is canal boating central, with lots of boats moored here and quite a few restaurants set up to serve  them. Fly to Carcassonne.

le somail canal boatingLe Somail

Beautiful little Languedoc village with a quite famous 2nd hand bookshop - transported brick by brick from Paris. Some nice restaurants and sometimes jazz concerts in summer. The Canal du Midi here is very picturesque - and canal boat hire from here is very popular. Fly to Carcassonne to get to Le Somail.

 beziers canal boatingBeziers

The historic centre is lovely, with winding cobbled streets and good shops and restaurants. The Feria in August is famous for bull fighting and street parties. The outskirts of the city are rather ugly. The canal boating here is not all that special. There aren't flights yet to Beziers, so fly instead to Montpellier.

agde canal boatingAgde

Charming seaside town on a hill overlooking the sea. Lots of interesting shops and seafood restaurants. Cap d'Agde is Europe's largest naturist colony - with some of Languedoc's best beaches. A nice place to stop if you're on a canal boat, or planning to hire one. Nearest airport is Montpellier.

palavas canal boatingPalavas / Lattes

Ugly Languedoc seaside town of tall concrete flats and gaudy funfair attractions. Lots of restaurants and shops. Not a terribly nice place to moor your canal boat rental. Montpellier and its airport is only 15 minutes away. Lattes is slightly more in-land.

carnon canal boatingCarnon

Rather ugly seaside town of concrete holiday flats and an OK beach. Not somewhere to linger. If your canal boating trip starts here, fly into Montpellier airport, which is minutes away.

aigues mortes canal boatingAigues Mortes

Impressive 13th century walled town on the edge of the Camargue wetlands. You'll see flamingoes in the marches here, as well as wild horses and bulls. Lots of horse riding opportunities nearby too. To get to Aigues Mortes for your canal boat rental, fly to either Montpellier or Nimes.

beaucaire canal boatingBeaucaire

Largish town with a vibrant atmosphere and plenty of shops and restaurants. If you decide to begin your Languedoc canal boating experience here, try to find a flight into Nimes airport.

narbonne canal boatingNarbonne

A charming city with the Canal de la Robine and all its canal boats running right through the middle. Lots of good shopping and restaurants, and the impressive Archduke's Palace and the Cathedral. The best way to get to Narbonne for canal boating is either by train, or by flying to Carcassonne and either renting a car or taking the local train across Languedoc to Narbonne.




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