Europe & Baltic
(Canal de Garonne Cruise)
Step aboard a relaxing and intimate barge cruise on the canals of Aquitane. There are more than 1,000 castles and manor houses, as well as beautiful old villages and historic towns in this hidden corner of southwestern France. Once a kingdom, then a duchy, and formerly much larger in area, the present-day region of Aquitaine extends from from Bordeaux in the west, toward Toulouse in the east, from Dordogne in the north, to Pau and the Pyrenees mountains in the south. Taken as a whole, this is France’s most significant wine-growing and agricultural area, not to mention Toulouse is France’s fourth largest city, renowned for its aerospace and aeronautics, its science, and its university- one of the oldest in Europe, founded in 1229. With a maximum of only six guests, you'll enjoy a more personalized vacation, highlighted with daily guided excursions, and exquisite culinary delights on board, paired with superb wines from the region. A fully stocked bar, with excellent wines of the region, coffee, tea, and soft drinks is included in your voyage. This is a taste of the France you never knew existed.
Cruise Departure Dates (2014):
Boe-Meilhan: May 24, Aug 2,30
Meilhan-Boe: Sep 6
Please inqure for private charter options.
Airport transfer with private vehicle and driver.
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'll take the scenic route, which takes you through gorgeous countryside and the towns of Castelsarrasin and Moissac.
Welcome aboard!On arrival at the Saint Louis barge, you settle in to your comfortable cabin, then after a short safety briefing there is a champagne reception followed by the first of many sumptuous dinners.
After breakfast, you'll cruise through the centre of the pretty city of Agen. On leaving the city, you pass over the most remarkable aqueduct which takes your barge over the River Garonne – this is France’s longest masonry aqueduct. You then descend a chain of four locks to arrive at a beautiful overgrown stretch of the canal which is nicknamed the “Amazon”. At the end of your day’s cruise you'll moor in the pretty port of Serignac-sur-Garonne. In the afternoon you'll be taken on an excursion to three fabulous medieval villages called Sainte Colombe, Bruch, and Clermont Dessous – the last village having a superb view across the Garonne valley. Arrive back at the port in time to have a stroll through the village of Serignac before aperitifs and dinner.
Today you cruise through the beautiful unspoiled countryside before arriving at the delightful port of Buzet-sur-Baïse. After lunch, you're taken on an excursion to the beautiful town of Nérac on the River Baïse, where you visit the Château of King Henry IV and the old medieval quarter of the town with its Roman bridge. Later, you are taken on a fabulous visit to an Armagnac producer, based in an old Benedictine monastery; here you see the old chapel, where the Armagnac is aged, and learn of the rich history of this property and the family that looks after it.
This morning you're taken on a visit to a barrel-makers, where the owners of the works have set up a viewing platform over the shop floor, and you're treated to an almost ballet-like performance of highly organised craftsmen using very high technology and traditional skills. This private visit is memorable, not least because of the charm and dedication to his craft of the owner who takes you around. On your way back to the boat you'll call in on the famous Buzet wine producing cooperative. You'll enjoy lunch on the sun deck and cruise down the canal, through the port of Damazan and under shady avenues of plane trees, to arrive at the port of Le Mas d’Agenais. You'll stop at the astounding gem stone and fossil museum at La Falotte, where the owner explains the categories of his 7,000 exhibits in a fascinating way. You then cruise further down the canal and moor for the night in the small country port of Villeton.
In the morning you cruise further down the canal to Le Mas d’Agenais. Here the barge is moored, and the car is waiting to take you for a visit up to the town of Roman origin, and where you can see significent parts of the original Roman wall. Admire the wooden market hall which was built in 1616, and visit the church in which there is an original Rembrandt. Later, you cruise further down the canal to arrive at the pretty “halte” of Caumont sur Garonne. From there, you'll be taken by car to a presentation called “Gens de Garonne (the People of Garonne) which in a remarkable and unique way tells the story of the people living on the side of the Garonne River.
This morning your boat heads down the canal, cruising once again through superb countryside and under a canopy of plane trees. You arrive at your destination, Meilhan-sur-Garonne. In the afternoon you're taken by car to Castets-en-Dorthe, where the canal flows back into the River Garonne. Marvel at the flood marks on the specially heightened lock house, and admire the Chateau that overlooks the village. From there you'll go to Langon, where you see a phenomonen of an entirely different era. This is the Airbus loading yard where massive parts of the new A380 aircraft are collected at the end of their sea journey, before embarking on their land journey to Toulouse for final assembly. You then take a short car journey to Chateau Roquetaillade, which has been in the same family for the last seven hundred years. The guided tour reveals some astonishing facts about this outstanding historical masterpiece.
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.
Le Palladia Toulouse (4*) located between the Toulouse-Blagnac International Airport and downtown Toulouse, this luxury hotel is a place that blends brilliant and modern architecture, and a charming contemporary style. It is located 3 miles from central Toulouse, near Blagnac International Airport. Hotel has 90 spacious rooms and suites, a 300-seat amphitheater, 14 meeting rooms with natural light, a cozy bar-lounge, a 180-seat gourmet restaurant, a heated outdoor pool and a fitness area.
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.
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