Luxury Canal Cruising France - Ultimate Canal Cruising Experiences

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Saint Louis

Saint Louis offers a cruising experience equivalent to a small private luxury boutique hotel. Peace and tranquility is guaranteed as you cruise rivers and canals, passing through the lush countryside, pretty villages and memorable towns.

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Trip Highlights

  • Visit historic medieval villages
  • Wine tasting at local vineyards
  • Relax on the sun deck and enjoy the scenery, glass of wine in hand
  • A day exploring the fabulous 12th Century Castlenau in Lauzerte. The views are amongst the most breathtaking in Southern France The trip starts with a walk to the village centre in time for lunch, usually at the Hotel du Quercy which is listed in the Guide Michelin. Here local specialities are prepared…

Features

  • Capacity Accommodates up to 6
  • Rooms 3 cabins with ensuites
  • Feature Sundeck
  • Kitchen All meals included and prepared by your chef
  • Heating / Cooling Fully airconditioned
  • Bikes Bikes Available

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On Board

Itinerary

Morning

We will have moored up the afternoon or evening before, securely tied to the quayside under the skipper’s experienced eagle eye.

At 30m in length and 127 tons weight, the Saint Louis stays firmly and dependably level in all circumstances; not that the inland waterways of South-West France offer anything by way of waves or other watery conditions that might upset her lady-like equilibrium in the first place! She moves gracefully through the languid green waters as quietly, calmly and smoothly as a luxury automobile negotiating the driveway of a stately home.

Breakfast on the Sun Deck

So it’s quite possible that you will sleep late, with no sounds from the outside world beyond your bedroom window to disturb your slumbers. Get up, relax, take breakfast exactly as the mood takes you. Alternatively, maybe your sleep will be so satisfying that you’ll actually wake up with the birds, emerging on deck to glimpse an electric blue kingfisher perched on the guard rail or a grey heron stalking the shallows.

You have the option of breakfasting in our hardwood panelled saloon or, more usually, to enjoy the morning sun and your croissants, freshly squeezed juice and coffee, on the sun deck. During or after breakfast the Saint Louis will probably let slip her mooring and set off along the canal.

Through canal bridges

Working the barge is a fascinating operation, and you’ll have the ringside seat (but you won’t be ‘pressed’ into service – all that’s expected of you, is to sit back and watch the professionals – the skipper and the crew – at work!). Casting-off or tying-up is a delicate process, the skipper combining a hand on the wheel, a touch on the throttle, and an experienced eye to bring the barge slowly and accurately alongside the mooring, or away from it. You’ll notice – or perhaps you won’t! – that no urgent shouted instructions take place between the skipper in the wheelhouse and the crew on the deck or on-shore; it’s all done quietly and professionally (using just the merest small hand-signal or raise of an eyebrow) by people who know what they’re doing – and enjoy doing it.

During the morning you are free to enjoy Saint Louis’ progress through the countryside towards the lunchtime destination. Outside, on the sun deck, your cushioned solid teak sun-lounger provides the perfect elevated canal-side view of the villages and the countryside, the locks and the bridges, as they gently slide past. Relax, chat, read a book – or do absolutely nothing except day-dream to the sound of bird-song.

Pigeonniers in Aquitaine

Your hosts know the region well and will point out items of interest along the way. For example the many gorgeous little pigeonniers – pigeon houses – that sprinkle the landscape, forming small ingredients in France’s heritage. Each conforms to a basic, practical theme but each is architecturally different, each builder contributing individual ideas and details to make each one unique. There must be thousands in South-West France – how many will you spot?

The crew are always at hand to fix you a mid-morning drink or rustle up a delicious snack!

Afternoon

After lunch (often taken al fresco under the parasols on the sun deck) there might be an excursion in the car, maybe to a mediaeval village or a wine tasting at a local vineyard – or both! The barge cruises through a number of wine areas, all part of the official South West wine region – these include Fronton, St Sardos, Cotes de Brulhois, Buzet, and Cotes de Marnande. In addition, we are able to do excursions to wine areas that are a little further from the canal, such as Gaillac, Cahors and Cote de Duras. We have researched a very wide range of visits, and the excursions each week are very much tailored to the interests and tastes of the guests on board. You will find all the places we visit to be un-crowded and unspoilt, with no pressure from mass tourism.

At Your Service

Sometimes the boat cruises during the afternoon. At any time you have the chance to examine how the Saint Louis is put through the various locks along the Canal de Garonne. Maybe you choose to watch this from the sun deck, with a glass in one hand and a book in the other, or maybe you decide to join the Skipper in the wheelhouse and observe from this “control centre” the finesse required in manoeuvring the boat.

Whatever the afternoon’s programme, once again the crew are at your disposal, to ensure your experience aboard Saint Louis is complete and thoroughly enjoyable.

Evening

Moored Up

At the end of the day’s cruise, the skipper and crew will moor Saint Louis. Sometimes we moor in a small port or historic town, sometimes near a little village, sometimes alongside the canal bank in open countryside. You’ll then have plenty of time to do few things before supper. Perhaps you’d like to borrow one of our excellent bikes and go for a ride along the (surfaced) canalside path – canals have level towpaths, no hills! Or a stroll into the town or village to explore, shop, meet the (friendly) locals and try out your French. Maybe the afternoon’s ‘exertions’ (well, visiting a vineyard and tasting the produce can be hard work . . . ) mean that all that’s necessary is a comfortable deck-chair and a sundowner.

Dining aboard the Saint Louis is a relaxed and delicious experience, whether taken on the sun-deck as the sun sets, or whether taken below in the panelled saloon. After drinks and aperitifs, you will enjoy a delicious meal planned and prepared by our chef, and accompanied of course by quality wines of the region. The pace of the meal, and of the rest of the evening, is entirely up to you. You may like to linger over coffee and malt whisky or Armagnac, or you may all decide to play a game of Scrabble or cards. Perhaps you choose to curl up with a book, or maybe your group takes on the task of putting the world to rights! Or you could just decide to get an early night, to relax in the private luxury of your own cabin.

Rate Includes

  • Transfers to and from the Saint Louis using the air-conditioned Mercedes people-carrier. Collection can be from Toulouse, either from the airport or from one of the hotels. Alternatively, it may be more convenient to meet in Montauban or Agen (or occasionally, in Bordeaux).  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you wish to arrange an alternative meeting point.
  • Accommodation on board for six nights
  • All mealstaken on board – and any meals taken with us ashore
  • All drinks – coffees, teas, cold drinks, drinks from the bar and drinks with meals
  • All excursions and visits
  • All cruising costs
  • Use of all on-board equipment
  • Full-time professional crew, devoted to making your stay with us as comfortable as enjoyable as possible.

Does not Include

  • Airfares to France
  • Travel within France to our agreed meeting place
  • Cancellation and travel insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Health / accident insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Any drinks, snacks or sweets you might choose to buy while ashore
  • Sundry purchases and personal items
  • Activities outside the charter itself – for example, Green fees, club hire, etc.
  • Discretionary crew gratuities.

Saint Louis’ rates are by enquiry only. Please contact us if you are interested in cruising on Saint Louis.

Payment Terms

  • Deposit of 25% of the cost of the cruise for confirming the booking.
  • The balance of 75% has to be paid 90 days prior the departure date of the cruise.
  • The payment of the deposit means that these conditions have been accepted

Contact us for further information. We would love to use our experience to help you plan the Canal du Midi barge holiday to remember!

Full Saint Louis Terms and Conditions

Saint Louis Availability

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  • Available
  • Booked

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