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Cruise In The South Of France On The Canal du Midi And In Southern Burgundy/Provence Aboard The Ultra Deluxe Hotel-Barge ALOUETTE

The 4-Passenger Alouette offers private charters aboard one of the most luxurious barges currently cruising the Canal du Midi.The beautiful tree-lined canal was built in the 17th century and was an engineering marvel for its time. Highlights of this area include Carcassonne, the most complete medieval, fortified city in existence. Excursions to fortified villages, castles and market towns plus a sophisticated gourmet and service tradition on board the Alouette create the ingredients for an exceptionally memorable barge cruise.

The barge itself offers elegant Provencal decor throughout and has two large and very comfortable staterooms, each with its own private ensuite bathroom with shower. There are large windows that open well above the waterline for you to enjoy the sights as the barge floats by. The spacious living/dining salon with large picture windows has a library area, writing desk, stereo, games, satellite TV and internet access. The sundeck with lounge chairs and sheltering umbrellas is perfect for soaking up the sun while enjoyg the scenery during the day.

The Alouette cruises from Southern Burgundy to Provence in early April before moving to the historic Canal du Midi for the summer to cruise between Béziers and Carcassonne. In late October it returns back to Burgundy via Provence.

One day you may decide to bicycle through the countryside to visit Roman ruins, travel in your own air-conditioned mini-bus to an out of the way vineyard, or visit a local market or the historic towns and villages of the region. Then, at the end of a glorious day, you return to your floating "country home" where your crew has been preparing an evening feast ... an elegant five course gourmet dinner graced by fine wines and cheeses unknown outside France. A sense of comradery seems to prevail as you share the day's adventures with old and new friends ...reliving memories that will carry your conversations for years to come.

We have visited the Alouette several times and think that its latest renovation makes it one of the most beautiful barges afloat, now with very large cabins and bathrooms.


Alouette's Deck Plan
Alouette's Deck Plan

Mar 25 thru May 5
Oct 7 thru Oct 27
May 6 thru Oct 6
Charter for 2
Charter for 3
Charter for 4

Mar 24 thru May 4
Oct 6 thru Oct 26
May 5 thru Oct 5
Charter for 2
Charter for 3
Charter for 4

Please visit our ...
Special Offers Page
... to see potential discounts for this barge or many others.

What's Included
- 7 days and 6 nights on the barge in a cabin with private bath
- Transfers from Paris to the barge and return via TGV train and chauffeur service from Paris hotel to train station
- All meals beginning with dinner on Sunday through breakfast on Saturday, including one dinner at a local restaurant
- All wines with lunches and dinners
- All escorted side-excursions (hot air balloon not available in Canal du Midi area)
- Use of bicycles

What's Not Included
- Overseas air transportation to Paris and return
- Suggested minimum 5% gratuity for the crew, to be paid to the captain in equivalent euros

2018 Season Cruise Schedule*
Week Route (Or Reverse) Season
Mar 25 St. Jean-Lyon Low
Apr 1 Lyon-Avignon Low
Apr 8 Avignon-Beziers Low
Apr 15 Le Somail-Carcassonne Low
Apr 22 Carcassonne-Beziers Low
Apr 29 Beziers-Carcassonne Low
May 6 Carcassonne-Beziers High
May 13 Beziers-Carcassonne High
May 20 Carcassonne-Beziers High
May 27 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jun 3 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Jun 10 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jun 17 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Jun 24 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jul 1 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Jul 8 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jul 15 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Jul 22 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jul 29 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Aug 5 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Aug 12 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Aug 19 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Aug 26 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Sep 2 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Sep 9 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Sep 16 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Sep 23 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Sep 30 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Oct 7 Carcassonne-Beziers Low
Oct 14 Beziers-Carcassonne Low
Oct 21 Carcassonne-Beziers Low

2019 Season Cruise Schedule*
Week Route (Or Reverse) Season
Mar 24 St. Jean-Lyon Low
Mar 31 Lyon-Avignon Low
Apr 7 Avignon-Beziers Low
Apr 14 Beziers-Carcassonne Low
Apr 21 Carcassonne-Beziers Low
Apr 28 Beziers-Carcassonne Low
May 5 Carcassonne-Beziers High
May 12 Beziers-Carcassonne High
May 19 Carcassonne-Beziers High
May 26 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jun 2 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Jun 9 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jun 16 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Jun 23 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jun 30 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Jul 7 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jul 14 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Jul 21 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Jul 28 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Aug 4 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Aug 11 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Aug 18 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Aug 25 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Sep 1 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Sep 8 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Sep 15 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Sep 22 Carcassonne-Beziers High
Sep 29 Beziers-Carcassonne High
Oct 6 Carcassonne-Beziers Low
Oct 13 Beziers-Avignon Low
Oct 20 Avignon-Lyon Low

*Note: Cruise directions and sample itineraries may be in reverse and are subject to change and may depend on bookings and local navigation conditions. Alternate excursions of equal appeal are substituted when needed. For charter cruises special itineraries can be arranged.

Canal du Midi
Beziers to Carcassonne 2018


--L'Oppidum d'Enserune:  a fascinating archeological site and remains of an antiquity village 8km west of Beziers. The hilltop village that was lived in from 600 BC to 100 AD. Its position on the summit of the hill qualifies the title of Oppidum. The main excavation of the site was conducted by Felix Mouret between 1915 & 1928 and uncovered many period ceramics and artifacts.

--Abbaye de Frontfroide: set in a magnificent rural location the abbey was attached to the order of Citeaux from 1145 and rapidly became one of the richest in Europe. From the 13th century  a period of slow decline ensued coupled with the Black Plague that would leave just a handful of monks up until the French revolution  The abbey was eventually sold in 1908 to the Fayet family who have passionately restored and redecorated ever since as a witness to past glories.

--Narbonne: The history of Narbonne dates over 2000 years and was originally located on the Via Domitia, the first Roman Road in Gaul connecting Italy to Spain and an important commercial crossroads. To help trade and encourage visitors further the Canal de Robine traverses the town overlooked by the imposing 14th century Cathedral, one of the tallest in France. Today tourists can enjoy mingling with the locals on market day and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this charming town.

--Cité de Carcasonne: added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites since 1997, the majestic medieval walled city has been built up and fortified by its many successive rulers. It now dominates the "modern" town below where the Canal du Midi gracefully meanders through, and Alouette moors in the town port & within walking distance of the shopping centre.

--Minerve: as per the local wine the inhabitants of this village are called the "Minervois". This small village oversees the Cesse-Brian Gorge and a site of incredible beauty. Our guide will unravel the compelling story of Minerve which is steeped in local folk law before heading onto a local domain and winetasting.

l'Abbaye de Fontfroide
l'Abbaye de Fontfroide

L'Oppidum d'Enserune

Canal du Midi
Canal du Midi

Minerve Hilltop Village
Minerve Hilltop Village


Sunday - Beziers
A champagne reception welcomes you on board and gives you a chance to meet the crew and your guide for the trip. Time permitting, enjoy your first cruise to the pretty village of Colombières. The evening brings your first fabulous dining experience on board, with a dinner prepared by our chef showcasing the region's finest seasonal ingredients.
Monday - Visit Abbaye de Fontfroide. Cruise to Capestang

This morning visit l'Abbaye de Fontfroide, a Cistercian monastery founded in the 11th century. Now privately owned, the abbey has been lovingly restored with a well-kept garden and peaceful cloister. Return to the barge for lunch, followed by an afternoon cruise along the beautiful Canal du Midi to Capestang. Dinner is served on board.
Tuesday - Tour Oppidum d'Enserune. Cruise to Le Somail
After breakfast enjoy a visit to Oppidum d'Enserune, a pre-Roman hilltop settlement and one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. The location affords a panoramic view of the "pond of Montady," a former freshwater wetland drained in 1247 and transformed into a sunburst-shaped network of ditches. On the way back to the barge, you stop at a local wine producer for a tasting. Lunch on board is followed by a relaxing afternoon taking in the grandeur and beauty of the Canal du Midi with its fine locks, buildings and aqueducts, scarcely changed since their construction over 300 years ago. Dinner is served on board.
Wednesday - Visit Narbonne and the market. Cruise to Homps
This morning, visit the wonderful covered market in Narbonne with the chef and help choose your dinner menu. Narbonne is a lively Mediterranean city and an important wine-producing centre. The historic architecture, shady boulevards and location on the banks of the River Robine all contribute to its charm. Enjoy lunch at a local bistro close to the market and then return to the barge for an afternoon's cruise to the port at Homps, followed by your evening meal.
Thursday - Visit Minerve. Cruise to Trebes
After breakfast, visit Minerve, an ancient village on a limestone cliff, overlooking the vineyards below. Its now ruined castle was once a Cathar stronghold, besieged and captured by Simon de Montfort. On the way back to the barge, stop at Peyriac-Minervois for a wine tasting. Following lunch on board, relax and soak up the everchanging views from the comfort of the deck, or perhaps walk or cycle along the tow path. Tonight we moor in the pretty town of Trebes, the perfect spot for dinner on board.
Friday - Cruise to Carcassonne. Visit Carcassonne
Finish the week with a tour of Europe's largest medieval fortress - Carcassonne. Explore the intricate fortifications of the two castellated walls, one inside the other, about a mile in circumference. The views from the battlements towards the Pyrenees are stunning. Visit the cathedral, remarkable for its stained-glass rose windows, elegant Romanesque nave and Gothic transepts. Back on board, the chef prepares your farewell gala dinner.
Saturday - Carcassonne
After breakfast the crew bids you farewell before you disembark the barge for your onward travel arrangements.
Note: The cruise runs in reverse on alternate weeks. The route may be subject to change without prior warning as a result of unforeseen circumstances.

Dining Aboard The Alouette:

A taste of the gourmet cuisine served aboard the Alouette. Dining on board the Alouette is among the highlights of the cruise. Our five-course candlelit dinners are a particularly special treat. The table d'hôte menus onboard the Amaryllis are of the very highest quality and include many regional specialties and fine wines. Each week's menu includes some of the Chef's original recipes as well as regional specialties and seasonal delicacies unique to the particular area of the country you are cruising.

You will enjoy a buffet style continental breakfast, large lunch including pâtés, cheeses, cold meats, tarts, terrines and salad. Dinners are always plated with at least four courses and complementary wines.

Meal times may vary to fit in with excursions but are generally:
Breakfast between 8:00 am to 10:00 am
Lunch between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm
Dinner at 7:30 - 8:00 pm


Carefully selected wines, including 1er Cru and Grand Cru vintages, are served with lunch and dinner. We will of course try and accommodate any specific requests from clients for particular wines and spirits where possible.

Passenger Comments:

It was perfect. The staff was exceptional. We took a barge trip 2 years ago and I didn't think it could get any better but it did!
C.A, MA, USA, October 2017

Our crew were just outstanding. From the moment we arrived at the train station to the moment we left, we felt like royalty. A barge cruise is slow food for the mind and body. My husband describes it as floating through an Impressionist painting while dining at a Michelin quality restaurant. The barge was gorgeous, the staff and service were outstanding, and the Canal du Midi mesmerizing. The emphasis on local food, local wine and visiting quirky local museums and vineyards made this holiday a highlight of our trip to Europe. It was a family trip and thoroughly enjoyed by all, irrespective of age.
C.S., Australia September 2011

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This page last updated August 3, 2018