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Vin en Vacances

I’ve lived in the Languedoc for nearly 15 years running my wine tour business and over that time I must have run hundreds of tours around the region so when I was invited to cruise the Canal du Midi for a week it felt almost like a busman’s holiday.  I knew the format of these tours, in the past I’ve worked on-board a few luxury barges running wine tours in Languedoc and Burgundy. I knew I would be waited on like royalty, eat incredible food and drink what ever I fancied whenever I fancied. I also knew each day I would be taken on a tour to experience some of the beautiful Languedoc villages, towns, markets and wineries that I know so well. Even though I didn’t expect to learn anything new I was delighted to accept the trip but I secretly planned to miss out the tours. What on earth could I possibly learn and surely I’d be bored. I was so wrong…

I’d been invited to join a ‘press trip’ and the barge I’d be cruising on would be part of a flotilla sailing from the pretty port town of Salles d’Aude to the historic city of Béziers. Joining me onboard were journalists, writers, bloggers and photographers and I hadn’t taken into account how fascinating it would be to meet these people and see Languedoc through their eyes.

The French name for one of the super large barges that have been converted into luxury floating hotels is ‘Péniche which I think sounds much more in keeping with what you see when you board. I was sailing on the ESPERANCE a Premier class Péniche which can accommodate up to 6 passengers. It’s owned by the lovely Captain Matthias Gilles and the boat certainly reflects his stylish vision of continental hospitality. I was surprised how large and comfortable the Péniche was with its stylish salon, comfortable seating and large glass dining table for indoor dining when it’s too hot outside or if the weather is inclement. There were three beautifully appointed ensuite cabins and mine was so spacious I could have had my own private party in there..!

For British people when you mention ‘barge’ and ‘canal’ they instantly think about narrow boats and waterways and difficulty managing the locks so if your British and reading this wipe those thoughts away. A week on the ESPERANCE  has absolutely no similarity to a British canal and quaint narrow boats what so ever. Our chef delighted us three times a day with delicious meals, our pilot navigated the waterway with skill and panache and our guide was fun and informative and I didn’t miss one of her tours. The week literally floated by like a dream and I loved every minute of it.

I was the guest of Barge Lady Cruises and if your tempted by a week of luxury aboard a stylish Péniche visiting lively towns, mingling with locals at the bustling regional market, tasting freshly pressed olive oils and delicious wines then don’t hesitate to get in touch with them.

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