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Advice On Canal Du Midi Please

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In 2017 we wish to hire a boat on the Canal Du Midi during August. We normally hire Swallow from Maffets so we do not need the newest poshest boats, but will have my son and daughter in law plus a little one under 2. Looking for a reasonably priced boat for about 10 or 11 days starting on a Monday thus giving us the weekend to drive there and back. would prefer to have dual steerage if possible. Any help you can give is most welcome.


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An absolutely beautiful run but you need to decide if you want a one way trip or a round trip. Have a look on the Le Boat web site for ideas .We’ve picked up from Cassafieres  and Homps. All the locks or ecluses are manned so no bother there.

The Neuf Ecluses de Fonserannes at Beziers is a nine lock staircase, marvellous feat of engineering, once seen –never forgotten

Just watch out for the huge commercial barges as they take no prisoners

If you get chance have a look at the Rick Stein DVD “French Odyssey” in which he travels down the Canal De Midi and get a feel for it

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Be careful if visiting Carcassone. The marina is also a Autoroute Services. Unfortunately it should be a delight BUT. I am now told you must not leave your car or boat unattended!

Easy pickings for certain types who are not normally French. Damn shame we used to love it as a stop before reaching what feels like the true Med. But have not been there for twenty five years come July, and as we all know things change.

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8 hours ago, BroadScot said:

Vaughan! Where are you? Can you assist Ian, please!

I am here, O Broadscot!

Firstly I should mention that the motorway services which adjoins the canal is not Carcassonne, but further west at the Centre du Lauragais, in an area of the canal which is not so much frequented by hire boats. I have always found, in general, that the French canals do not present a security problem when mooring overnight but there are places to avoid, especially in the high season and a motorway services is one of those!

I would always recommend an "out and back" cruise rather than a "one way", since you are not then under pressure to get to your destination in time, at the end of the week. From Port Cassafières to Castelnaudary (with Le Boat) means passing 54 locks, and you end up cruising all day, sometimes in long queues at the locks, rather than having time to stop in a place that you like, and spend the day exploring on bicycles, just because you are worried that you may not get to your eventual destination in time.

For this reason I would also recommend hiring in the off season, especially in October, when the autumn leaves in the vineyards are fabulous, but the waterway is much more peaceful. This, of course, may not always be possible if you have children of school age. The French canals are very different from a Broads holiday - they are navigable rivers (like the Thames) or man-made canals (such as the Midi) where you travel for literally hundreds of miles through countryside which changes in character every day. I think the key to it is to choose a cruise which will not put you under pressure and will give you the time to appreciate the country around you, and its ancient history.

As to which boat, and which company to choose, I would prefer to send a PM to Maxwellian.

Be careful though - If you get hooked by the French inland waterways, you may not feel the same about the Broads!

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