Europe & Baltic Cruises
(Canal de Garonne Cruise)
Explore Toulouse with your expert guide before you'll leisurely cruise the canals of the Garonne and Tarn rivers in the company of up to a maximum of only six guests, a truly relaxing and intimate voyage along the canals of southwestern France, The rhythm of your barge cruise generally consists of a half day of gliding the canal: enjoying the countryside drift by with a cool drink in your hand, walking the tow path, or biking into that picturesque town across the sunflower fields. The second half of the day is usually spent in a guided exploration of all that the region offers in historical sights, wine tasting, artisan crafts, and culture. All of your meals will be prepared from fresh local ingredients and served on board by the resident chef, while an occasional meal might be enjoyed at a nearby restaurant serving the finest regional cuisine. A fully stocked bar, with excellent wines of the region, coffee, tea, and soft drinks is included in your voyage. Daily excursions and access to bicycles are included while you cruise from one historic riverside town to the next. Private charter options are available.
Cruise Departure Dates:
Montobaun-Agen: Apr 19, May 3,17, Jul 12,26, Sep 20, Oct 4 (2014)
Agen-Montobaun: Apr 26, May 10, Jun 7,21, Jul 5,19, Aug 16, Sep 27 (2014)
Airport transfer with private vehicle and driver.
The Crowne Plaza (4*) Hotel is located in the city centre, on one of the most famous and attractive squares in Europe the capitole. The city of Toulouse is known as well as the "ville rose"(pink city). The large traditional building is very elegant and decorated in warm colours and dark wood. The rooms are large and nicely decorated with stylish furniture. They provide with anything you need to make your stay comfortable. Both rooms and bathooms are in excellent condition.
Enjoy a 2 hour private walking city tour of Toulouse, This tour will enable you to have a much better idea of the architectural and cultural richness of the city. Plaes of interest you may like to visit include the Old grain exchange which has been transformed into a famous concert hall for classical music, the Botanical Garden with its exotic plants, Saint Michel bridge for a view of the old city, the water tower, the Saint Cyprien neighbourhood, the Modern Art Museum located in the old slaughter house, the Canal de Brienne, Capitol Square, famous private mansions, St Etienne Cathedral and Saint Sernin Basilica. You may like to get a taxi to cover more ground on your tour (not included).
You'll be met by a cruise representative, and transfered to your awaiting barge at port. You pass through Granade and Grisolles on the way, and admire the central market square in both villages.
Welcome aboard!On arrival at Saint Louis’ home port, you are greeted with a champagne reception on board. After unpacking, the options include a visit to the local Artisan Distillerie (making renowned aqua vita and liqueurs from local fruits), or a stroll around the charming town of Montech, or maybe a game of pétanque (boules) beside the boat.
The Saint Louis barge's style might best be described as ‘casual luxury’ – this is the style of the interior fittings and furnishings; and the outside lounge deck and its furniture. This concept encapsulates the ethos of the hotel barge, her skipper and crew; and the way in which cruises along the delightful waterways of south-west France aboard Saint Louis are lived. Originally built in 1923 as a bulk cargo carrier, a full conversion and refresh in 1994 and 2007 respectively have expertly transformed the Saint Louis barge into a floating hotel haven of comfort and style, eager to host up to six guests in its three guest staterooms. On the sun deck, there are cushioned solid teak chairs and sun-loungers to provide the perfect elevated canal-side view of the villages and the countryside, the locks and the bridges, as you cruise slowly past. Relax, chat, read a book – or do absolutely nothing except day-dream to the sound of bird-song. Or enjoy an alfresco meal of fresh local ingredients, with a glass of superb local wine. Below, ‘up forward’ (at the front of the ship) are the guest cabins. In the centre of the boat is a generously sized saloon, dining area and bar. Aft (towards the back of the ship) lies the well-equipped kitchen, then the wheelhouse and finally the crew’s quarters.
After breakfast, you'll set out in the car for an excursion around Montauban, “city of art and culture”. You'll see statues by local artist Bourdelle, and explore cobbled streets leading to the gorgeous central square, also admiring the 13th century Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) with its superb garrison building. You return to the boat, and have lunch under way as you head to Montech, passing through one lock before joining the main Canal de Garonne. At Montech, you will see the extraordinary Montech Water Slope, an engineering marvel that is unique in the world. After cruising for the afternoon through gentle and productive rural countryside you'll moor in the beautiful port of Castelsarrasin.
Today you head off down the canal after breakfast, and after descending four locks you'll cross over the River Tarn by means of an amazing brick-built aqueduct, 30 metres over the river. A few more locks and you arrive in the port of Moissac. After lunch, ypi are taken to one of the highlights of the trip – Moissac Abbey with its Cloisters that are said to be the finest in the world, and the 13th century church which contains a 10th century organ. There are numerous art shops, including a glass blower, in this gem of a medieval town. As an option, Saint Louis can leave the canal at Moissac, for a short cruise on the River Tarn and the River Garonne.
Enjoy breakfast on deck, while passing through the swing-bridge of Moissac emerging into lovely countryside, with rolling hills to the right and the River Garonne to the left. In time for lunch you'll moor at the peaceful port of Pommevic – you can often expect to be the only boat in the port. During the morning you could pass numerous pilgrims making their way on Christendom’s third most important pilgrimage route, to the Spanish burial site of Saint James at Santiago di Compostella, which is still 1200 km away at this point. In the afternoon, you go in the car to nearby Auvillar, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. This village has a history in which the manufacture and export of china and quills (for writing) were of major importance – as so often you'll see the influence that the River Garonne had as a trade artery in the world of commerce of yesteryear.
You'll head off in the morning, having breakfast on the deck under the plane trees. Pass through Valence, and moor for lunch at Lamagistere, surrounded by nothing but views and peace. In the afternoon, you'll go by car to nearby Donzac, where there is an amazing museum dedicated to the ancient trades of this corner of France – this is a world class display, put together with professionalism and humour. Later, visit the ancient Bastide village of Dunes, with lovely half-timbered houses and wall-plaques that detail some astounding events in the history of this little village. Return to mooring.
In the morning, you go in the car to nearby Clermont-Soubiran, where there are views over the whole Valley of the Garonne, and where a walk around the outside of the chateau never fails to impress. You then return to the boat and cruise down towards the provincial city of Agen. You'll moor at Boë on the outskirts of Agen. The possible excursions from Boë include a visit to the Musée des Beaux Arts in Agen, where there is a fine Egyptian and Levant collection as well as number of Goyas, or perhaps a visit to the first water-lily nursery in Europe, where Monet gained his inspiration.
This morning, you'll disembark the barge after an incredibly relaxed, cultural voyage.
You'll once again be transfered by cruise personnel back to Toulouse, concluding your barging experience.
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