Luxury Barge Cruising in the South of France
6 Nights / 7 Days • River Cruising
A luxury barge cruise through the Languedoc region of Southern France (rumoured to have the best weather in the country!) is an idyllic way to spend a week. The cruise includes exceptional meals, drinks, transfers, day trips, transportation and expert local guides – basically everything.
The Languedoc is well-known for their wines – full-bodied reds created from blends such as Syrah and Grenache; zesty un-oaked whites blended from Grenache Blanc and Picpoul, and excellent rosé from the same varieties. Don’t forget sparkling: Cremant de Limoux is this region’s extraordinary answer to Champagne… this is wine-lovers heaven.
As one would expect on a luxury cruise in Southern France, the food is lovingly prepared from fresh, local ingredients based on the season. Chef Emma creates the daily menu and wines are carefully chosen to accompany her choices.
Whether you’re eating lunch on the deck, watching the scenery lazily float by – or enjoying a special meal in the well-appointed dining area, the food and wine will definitely be a highlight.
The itinerary is relaxed – activities include an olive oil tasting, market visits, a stop at a vermouth distillery and the chance to explore medieval villages and castles – all with friendly informative guides and transportation included.
Apart from the occasional walk through town or (optional) use of the on-board bicycles, there is very little physical activity required. The gentle pace will soon lull you into a relaxed, blissful state as you soak up the Mediterranean sun.
- A six-night stay (Sunday-Saturday) beginning with a champagne reception
- An expert Captain who looks after all aspects of navigation
- Hostesses prepare and serve a continental breakfast each morning, and look after passengers’ needs
- Superb, chef-prepared lunches and dinners each day
- A fully-stocked, complimentary bar of wines and spirits available to passengers (at any reasonable time)
- An expert local guide for daily excursions and tours to places of historical interest
- Transfers to and from the Athos at the beginning and end of your cruise
- Use of bicycles
Price is per person, based on double occupancy.
Applies to departures April 3-29 and October 8-22, 2017.
See below for other dates and room options.
DAY 1 - Arrival Day
Today your journey begins in Beziers (regardless of whether you’re going from Argeliers to Marseillan or reverse). This is a small town, so you’ll be picked up at the train station, airport or your hotel and chauffeured to the barge.
Note: this itinerary describes the journey from Argeliers to Marseillan.
When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the staff and crew of Athos – who will welcome you on board with a glass of champagne and canapes. You’ll have a chance to get settled in before your delicious four-course meal, to be enjoyed under the shade of nearby plane trees while overlooking an 18th century stone bridge.
DAY 2 - Carcassonne & Capestang
After breakfast you’ll be driven to Carcassone to explore the incredible Medieval Château. Of course you’ll be accompanied by your Athos guide, who will explain the area’s rich history and show you around.
After lunch and relaxing on board, the Athos will be moored in the charming village of Capestang – the ideal spot for a stroll or gentle bicycle ride. This evening’s dinner will be served in view of the beautiful cathedral; Collegiale St. Etienne.
DAY 3 - Regismont le Haut & Minerve
Today you’ll visit another quaint village; Bize Minervois – where the first stop will be at the Oulibo for an olive and olive-oil tasting. There are many varieties of organic olives and oils to be tasted – and of course they are best enjoyed with a glass of rosé.
After the tasting, you’re off through the beautiful limestone scenery of the Gorge de la Cesse, en route to the hilltop village of Minerve. Offering dramatic views of the surrounding countryside, Minerve has a fascinating history and was the site of an important battle in the Crusades of the 11th century. Again, your Athos guide will explain the relevant history and show you the highlights.
DAY 4 - Narbonne & Fonserannes
This morning you’ll have the chance to explore the delights of a French market. Ponder fresh local produce, the finest cheeses and meats; oils and condiments, bread and wine: this is foodie heaven.
When you’ve had your fill of the market, stop and stand on an excavated 2,000 year old road built by the Romans – then learn more at the fascinating museum nearby. Or, if you’d prefer, this charming town has a wide variety of cafes to choose from, so you can stop and soak in the atmosphere over a cafe au lait and homemade pastry before heading back to Athos.
En route to Beziers, the Athos will traverse a series of locks known as the Fonserannes. In less than 1/3 of a kilometre, the water level will raise 70 feet (21.5m) – fascinating even to the casual observer, this is a marvel of canal engineering.
DAY 5 - Portiragnes and Pezenas
Our first stop of the day will be the beautiful, lively town of Pezanas – once the home to nobility, this is now a protected historic zone; famous for their “Hotels Particuliers” (mansions) the town is home to some stunning architecture and perfect for wandering.
Here you’ll find delightful cafes and shops – narrow, cobblestone streets and possibly even come across a festival of some type, which the town is also known for. Explore before heading back to Athos for a well-deserved rest and glass of wine.
This evening Athos will stop near the village of Portiragnes – a romantic, scenic spot ideal for walking or cycling – there’s plenty of time before dinner on board.
DAY 6 - Agde to Marseillan
Yet another decadent day awaits. Today we traverse the estuaries of the “Petit Camargue” – this protected area is home to many exotic bird species including pink flamingos, bee eaters and African rollers. Bring your binoculars!
On arrival in Agde, it’s time to experience a truly spectacular seafood lunch while floating in the scenic open waters of Etang de Thau – Europe’s largest oyster and mussel park.
After you’ve had your fill of oysters, it’s time to learn more about vermouth – and of course enjoy a sample or two. The Athos will head to nearby Marseillan, where you’ll disembark for a tour of the Noilly Prat Vermouth distillery.
DAY 7 - Departure Day
After a relaxing week, you’ll have one last delicious breakfast before saying your goodbyes. You’ll be chauffeured back to Beziers for your onward journey.
- Athos has a maximum of 10 passengers at any given time. If you would prefer to travel with a private group, we are able to charter the barge (rates opposite). Other options include specialty Wine, Tennis, Golf or Painting departures; please ask.
- Ask us about affordable airfares and pre- or post-stay options in Barcelona, Paris, or Marseille.
ADDITIONAL DATES & DETAILS:
Value Season (April 3-29; October 8-22, 2017)
Per person $4,550 (based on double)
Charter for 6 passengers $36,800
Charter for 8 passengers $39,400
Charter for 10 passengers $42,000
Single supplement $1,500; Child discount $300
Regular Prices (May 1 – October 2)
Per person $4,990 (based on double)
Charter for 6 passengers $41,500
Charter for 8 passengers $44,500
Charter for 10 passengers $47,500
Single supplement $1,700; Child discount $300
Price is per person based on two people sharing a standard room. Other room types: please inquire. Proof of insurance is mandatory; if you need to purchase trip cancellation or health insurance please inquire. For full Booking Conditions, please see thetravelsociety.com/booking-conditions/ Tour is operated by The Travel Society, Inc., 174 Spadina Ave., Suite 404, Toronto, ON, M5T 2C2, Canada; 1 (877) 926 2500; TICO Registration #1280649