Why a Wine Tasting Cruise is the Best Vacation Ever

03rd Feb 2020
toasting with a glass on a wine tasting cruise

It’s unlikely your travel bucket list includes a self-drive wine tasting cruise through the impressive French waterway known as the Canal du Midi. Let us shed some light on why you should consider this unique canal boat adventure in your vacation planning. You will experience exquisite countrysides dotted with impossibly-romantic châteaux, colorful markets and perhaps, best of all, some of the best wine regions in France

The sun-drenched Canal du Midi is France’s most famous man-made waterway, connecting the city of Toulouse with the Mediterranean coast. A wine tasting cruise along parts of this 150-mile canal is one of the best ways to experience this exquisite area of Southern France. Take the helm of an easy-drive canal cruiser and discover not only extraordinary vineyards, but gastronomic delights, charming ports and a meandering passage into history. A canal cruise means you have an entirely flexible itinerary that you can design yourself. Pull up and moor where you want to explore, you can even hire bikes to take with you so you can discover so much more.

A slow cruise to the best wine regions in France

The Canal du Midi passes through one of the country’s largest and best wine regions – the Languedoc. The Languedoc Roussillon region of Southern France, boasting roughly 700,000 acres of vines, is responsible for more than a third of France’s total wine production. This region includes many smaller, boutique regions like Minervois, Herault and Corbieres. Here, wine is a way of life and barge cruisers are warmly welcomed at the numerous vineyards and small wineries. It makes for a really social vacation where you can meet fellow wine lovers from all around the world.

In the Languedoc, vineyards are often referred to as ‘patchwork’ because so many excellent grape varieties are grown here. Enjoy full-bodied, fruity red blends featuring Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre as major components, as well as the more well-known Malbec, Cabernet and Merlot. White wines are zesty and produced mostly with Picpoul and Grenache Blanc.

the medieval city of Carcassonne

Visit Carcassonne on your wine tasting cruise

The medieval fortified city of Carcassonne is a UNESCO heritage site of towers and turrets, and a must-visit for Canal du Midi wine cruisers. Walking tours of the city are available, often including local artisanal wine tastings as well as culinary delights. 

The countryside surrounding the ancient walled city is blanketed in vines as far as the eye can see. Many smaller boutique vineyards, like O’Vineyards, offer the unique opportunity to hang out with the winemakers themselves. Larger estates, such as La Voulte Gasparets and Château l’Hospitalet feature well-appointed tasting rooms and on-site restaurants.

Just a few miles northwest of Carcassonne, is the small region of Cabardès. This is where you can find one of the oldest winemaking châteaux in France, the prestigious Château de Pennautier, which has been in the Pennautier family since 1620.

Wine tasting and so much more

Because the plentiful vineyards border the Canal du Midi itself, it makes it easy to tie up your boat and sip quality local wines just steps from the water. You’ll find free tastings and very reasonably priced bottles are more common than not!

But tasting is far from the only reason to cruise the Canal du Midi. Cruise through landscapes of golden sunflowers, stroll ancient cobblestone streets and even bike ride scenic backroads encountering friendly locals at every turn. Gourmet restaurants and taverns line the canal, and fresh flaky croissants and baguettes await at quaint bakeries and cafes. 

Your personal wine tasting cruise

A self-drive canal cruise is custom-fit for your private group in every way. Choose your boat, departure date, duration and itinerary, and chart your own course. Pull your boat to the side and tie up whenever you like. Stay awhile and savor your perfect deck picnic with a view, or cruise on to your next adventure – the choice is always yours. 

Find out more

Ready to experience a different kind of boat rental? We can help you start planning your unforgettable canal cruise with our partner Les Canalous, France’s waterway cruising specialists for 40 years. For more information, email us at [email protected] or give us a call at 855.650.8902. Alternatively, for more vacation inspiration, head on over to our blog.