This little seaside resort, surrounded by camping grounds, holiday cottages, hotels and restaurants offers many attractions to passing boaters. In the old centre of town, the colourful houses with their ground level cellars remind us of the essential activity of this region, the production of wine. At least ten wine makers in the immediate surroundings propose free tastings. Several restaurants, a supermarket and the cooperative cellars can be found in the avenue de la Mer which leads from the port towards the centre of town.
Tourist Office: 04 67 21 76 25
Cooperative cellars: 04 67 2165 01
*Market: Wed.and Sat. mornings
Le Gambetta: 04 67 2160 94 Le Vieux Logis: 04 67 21 77 56 At Vias-Plage toilets and showers are open to the public and a «Californian mini-golf» with its very own palm trees and waterfalls awaits you.
Au Rendez-Vous des Bateliers: 04 6790 88 78
At PK 225, the river Libron crosses the canal. Because of the low level of the surrounding countryside it was not possible to build an aqueduct, so to avoid damage from floodwaters a very unusual structure was built. At first, Vauban simply designed a barge with raised ends which was sunk in the canal during times of flooding. The flood- waters passed over the barge and continued on their way in the river. The present structure which dates from 1857 is the work of the engineer Urbain Magues. In the event of a flood, big gates at each end are closed thus cut- ting the two branches of the river from the canal.
Tourist Office: 04 67 90 82 82
* Market: Sun. morning at the village and Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Portiragnes-Plage * La Vitarelle: 04 67 90 88 90 (7/7) Mon Reve d'Enfant: 04 67 09 93 43 Le Mirador: 04 67 90 9133 (P.-Plage)
* Canal Plus. 04 67 39 32 17 (717)
A busy little town on the outs- kirts of Beziers. You will find good fully serviced moorings.
Tourist Office: 04 67 90 84 31
* Market: Tue and Sat mornings * La Cremade: 04 67 39 4170 (C. Wed) * L'Oasis: 04 67 32 45 19
Already from the top of the Fonserannes stair- case the view across the Orb valley to the bold outline of the cathedral of St-Nazaire is an invitation to disco- ver this historic city, the birthplace of Pierre Paul Riquet, and for many years the capital of the French table wine trade. The Friday flower market provides a splash of colour in this bustling town. Also worth visiting is the Museum of Fine Arts and Beziers Traditions.
Tourist Office: 04 67 76 47 00
La Maison du Canal: information, bicycle hire, shop, etc. Tel: 04 67 62 18 18
Les Comediens (at the port). 04 67 62 59 14 (7/7)
Le Vieux Puits. 04 67 90 05 59 (C. Sun. eve., Mon.)
Le Vieux Siege: 04 67 28 07 06
The Fonserannes Staircase.
Boats going downstream
Mar-14 June 8.30-9.30 13.30 - 15.30
15 June-Aug. 8.00-9.30 13.00 - 15.30
Sept-14 Oct 8.30 - 9.30 13.00 - 15.30
15 Oct - 7 Nov 8.30-9.30 13.30 - 15.30
Boats going upstream
Mar -Apr 10.00 -11.45 16.00 - 17.15
May-14 June 10.00 -11.45 16.00 - 18.15
15 June-Aug. 10.00 -12.15 16.00 - 18.45
Sept-14 Oct 10.00 -12.15 16.00 - 18.15
15 Oct-7 Nov 10.00 -11.45 16.00 - 17.15
This little village with its modern marina next to an old wine cellar, lies on the Domitian Way. A section of this old Roman road has been uncovered by recent excavations.
Tourist Office: 04 67 37 00 90
* Chez I'Eclusier: 04 67 37 14 77 (7/7)
* Pom'Cannelle: 04 67 37 63 96 (7/7)
The Malpas tunnel:
160 m long, presents no particular problem, but the section is one-way so sound your horn before entering. In the Maison du Malpas, situated directly on top of the tunnel, you will find a store selling local produce, tourist information, a multimedia space with interactive ter- minals and a video about the region. The site offers an exceptional view over the dried Montady lake with its star shaped drainage channels. If you are arriving from the direction of Beziers, you can moor at Colombiers and reach the site by foot. On the western side of the tunnel, there is a mooring about 200 metres away in the curve.
The Oppidum of Enserune.
Just above the Malpas tunnel, was a site occupied from 800 BC through to the beginning of the Christian era. Vestiges of Greek, Celtic and Roman civilisations discovered in archaeological excavations started in 1915 have been assembled in a museum.
Les Platanes: 04 67 93 38 41 (C. Mon. Tue.)
This attractive former canal port has become a popular mooring place with countless boats lining both banks. The town centre is just a short walk down the hill from the canal.
Tourist Office: 04 67 93 34 23
Market: Wednesday and Sunday mornings
Le Provence: 04 67 93 36 54 La Bateliere: 04 67 93 42 77 (7/7) Just next to the Guery aqueduct at the Domaine du Guery, Mr Tastavy and his son will be pleased to show you round their 400-year-old vineyard and offer you a wine-tasting in their cellar (tel: 04 67 93 42 17).
Pont de Malvies (PK 180.6)
* Le Pourquoi Pas: 04 67 93 37 94 (C. Mon.)
Pont de la Croisade (PK 176.5)
* Auberge de la Croisade: 04 67 89 36 36 (C. Tue.and Wed. midday)
* Au Chat qui Peche: 04 68 46 28 74 Market. Tuesday and Friday
* Domaine du Somail: 04 68 46 28 49 (7/7)
! The two signs in place after PK 169 will enable you to calculate your speed. Remember that the maxi- mum speed allowed on the canal is 8 km/h.
In the 18th century, the passenger boats which regularly plied the canal took four days to go from Agde to Toulouse. The staging posts were at Le Somail, Trebes, Castelnaudary and Negra. At Le Somail you will see one of these buildings as well as a circular tower which was used for preserving ice throughout summer. Although, at the time, the trip only cost six pounds, there is no reason to be envious as passengers were requi- red to change boats each time they reached a double or triple lock - a total of twenty-five times. At each of these change-overs they had to carry their baggage up or down the steep slope to their next boat. At Le Somail you should visit Madame Gourgues' anti- quarian bookshop right next to the canal. Here you will find everything from cheap paperbacks to very rare edi- tions. Open each afternoon: 04 68 46 2164. Opposite the bookshop, the Grocery Barge is open all week to passing boats. To order bread you should call the day before, tel: 04 68 46 95 11.
Tourist Office: 04 67 4155 70 Hat museum L'0 a la Bouche: 04 68 46 00 09 L 'Auberge Le Somaillou: 04 68 46 19 41 (C. Tue.)
* Le Barraca: 04 68 43 52 83 (7/7)
* Le Cafe du Port: 04 68 43 23 10 (7/7)
A tight curve in the canal leads to the historical canal bridge of Repudre, one of the few canal bridges built by Riquet himself. It was intended to avoid damage to the canal caused by flooding of the little river Repudre. Completed in 1676, it was the first canal bridge ever built in France and is reputed to be the second built in the world.
Grocery, wines, souvenirs of the canal and regional produce After leaving Argens you enter into the big pound, more than 54 km without locks, before you reach Fonserannes.
(D 611) This town, 5 km from the canal, is the capital of the Corbieres wine growing region. For a long time, most of the production was shipped by barge to Bordeaux, the last wine barge having ceased its activities in the 1980's. In the Museum of the Vine and Wine, you will see an exhibition on the subject of transport of wine over the ages. (The museum is tem- porarily closed in 2007)
Museum and tourist office: 04 68 27 05 42
A lovely little town, typical of the Minervois region, clustered around a 14th century cha- teau and overlooking the canal and the Aude river. Lifting facilities are available in Port Occitanie for boats up to 10 tons.
* La Guinguette: 04 68 27 55 73 (7/7)
An ancient commercial port where barrels of minervois and corbieres wine were loaded for their journey to Bordeaux. There are several wine-producers here whom you can visit.
* La Peniche: 04 68 9124 34 (7/7)
* L'Arbousier: 04 68 91 11 24
(C. Sun. eve., Mon., Wed.) Les Tonneliers: 04 68 91 14 04 (7/7)
Near the aqueduct over the little river Argentdouble you will see a magnificent stone spillway. This was built in 1693 to empty the canal of excess water during times of flooding. The towpath crosses the spillway above
This village, like so many in the region, has kept its medieval character. As you enter Puicheric via the twisting narrow streets, go towards the church tower. Here you will see the last vestiges of an 11 th century chateau burnt down in the 14th century by soldiers of the Black Prince. Romanesque church * Co-operative wine cellars
Market Tuesday and Friday morning * Chez Stella: 04 68 43 78 52 (7/7)
This town is situated on the southern limits of the Minervois wine-growing region and the local co- operative will introduce you to these excellent wines. Regional products can be purchased from the stall on the canal bank.
* La Muscadelle: 04 68 79 20 90 (7/7)
* La Terrasse: 04 68 79 05 38 (7/7)
You can moor in the centre of this little town. The moorings are right next to the shopping centre. There is an excellent wine cellar on the quay.
Trattoria Napolk 04 68 78 83 08 (7/7)
Le Moulin de Trebes: 04 68 7B 83 03
The port of Carcassonne offers full ser- vices including a washing machine. On arriving, go to the port office where you will be allocated a mooring The mooring fee is 8€ during the day and 16.40€ if you stay the night. The famous Cite of Carcassonne is a few kilometres from the town centre situated on the top of a steep hill, so we suggest you use one of the electric vehicles made available to boaters to reach it. This extraordinary fortified town dates back to the Roman Empire (3rd and 4th centuries AD). Used as a garrison in later years, the site fell into ruin but was restored, somewhat imaginatively, at the end of the 19th century by the famous architect, Viollet-le-Duc. You will find plenty of souvenir shops and there is a guided visit to the Count's chateau. In summer La Cite is brought alive by musical and theatrical festivals. To get to the Cite a mini-bus service is available from mid June to the end of October. Outside these dates, you can take the bus which starts from the Place du Dome, or simply hail a cab at the taxi stand opposite the port.
Port Office: 04 68 25 10 48
Tourist Office: 04 68 10 24 30
* Market: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings and Sunday morning on the port.
* Le Relais Romain: 04 68 78 09 96 (7/7)
The Foucaud Spillway. At this point the canal origi- nally continued on to the north of Carcassonne. However, the inhabitants quickly realised the economic advan- tages it could bring and arranged for a new canal to be built through the middle of the city. At the spillway, ves- tiges of the original canal can be seen.
At the Espitalet farm, you can find many local Lauragais products such as local wines and, in season, artichokes, asparagus and other vegetables fresh from the garden. A simple mooring at PK 88 on the right bank gives access to the farm.
A pretty village built on a circular plan with a 13th century church in the centre. In ancient times, Bram was an important staging point on the road from Toulouse to Carcassonne and at the Maison de l 'Archeologie you can see the results of 30 years of excavations (amphors, funerary objects etc.) Tel.04 68 78 91 19.
* Market. Wednesday morning
L'Eau Berge (on the port): 04 68 76 73 34 (7/7)
Auberge du Pigne: 04 68 76 10 25 (7/7 reservation necessary)
In a former cooperative wine cellar, 800 m from the canal, you can see the different works of the glass maker Thierry Deloffre as well as objects left by other artists. The different ways of working glass such as stained glass, glass blowing and fusing are all on display. You can also purchase a souvenir of your visit in the shop beside the gallery.
La Verrerie du Canal (open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a. m. to midday and from 2 p. m. to 6 p. m.)
Tel.: 04 68 94 29 30 Aux Deux Acacias: 04 68 94 24 67 (7/7)
This little village, two kilometres from the canal, has a post office, a very good bakery and a grocery store.
The Peyruque Lock (PK 71.5)
La Boutique de I'Ecluse : sale of hand made objects in ceramic and local produce.
On the western side of the grand basin a small island called
the Ile de la Cybelle was built to protect unladen
barges from the strong Tramontane wind as they turned
into the port.
Moorings are available in the Grand Bassin, the town
port and a new quay has been built conveniently situated
opposite the swimming pool. On arriving, go to the
port office situated beside the Police Station.
Tourist Office: 04 68 23 05 73
Port Office: 04 68 94 58 21
Market: Monday morning
Cougarel wind-mill • Presidial museum
Hotel du Centre et du Lauragais: 04 68 23 25 95
Le Tirou: 04 68 94 15 95
La Maison du Cassoulet 04 68 94 0174