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5 must-do stops on your Canal du Midi cruise

If you're thinking of experiencing the Canal du Midi, but don't know what to see or do along the way, take a look at our list of 5 stops you must make on your Canal du Midi cruise. They're all tried and tested by us!

Cité de Carcassonne

Cité de Carcassonne

This ancient walled city with its impressive fortified ramparts and double wall and may look like a relic from history, but once you step inside you will find that the cobbled streets are still very much alive. 

Take a guided tour to truly discover the history of this fascinating cité. Your guide will point out things you may never have noticed, such as where the towers have been rebuilt by various occupants in different styles and how the Romans’ used drainage systems to collect rainwater and funnel it inside the city walls.

Once inside the city walls you will discover a bustling centre with restaurants, shops and more history to be discovered, including the castle itself and the magnificent Basilica of Saint Nazaire.

Le Somail

This picture perfect French Village only has 60 residents during the winter, but when the canal is open, Le Somail is the place to be, with bistros and restaurants and their friendly owners, ready to welcome you and introduce you to their take on local French food.

Pick up fresh bread and pastries from the village’s only shop, which is on a barge! Visit Madam Gourgues Antiquarian Bookshop where you’ll find everything from cheap paperbacks to very rare editions, crammed in bookshelves from floor to ceiling. There is also a hat museum here, promising to show you a collection of hats that is ‘unequalled in all the world’!

While you are in this postcard village, complete your French experience by hiring a Citroen 2CV and driving through the vineyards to L’Oulibo Olive Caves for a tour of the olive groves where you can learn about the olive oil creation process from start to finish, and sample the products too. 

Musee des Potiers Gallo-Romains Amphoralis

A museum dedicated to Roman pottery may not sound like much but in reality, it is so much more! Set on the site of archaeological discovery, the museum contains the pottery that was found and lovingly reassembled. While outside the archaeological dig site is there for you to enjoy - see the Roman remains for yourself.

Set in several acres, this museum has become a hub for the local community as well as the archaeologists who work and experiment here. Using the knowledge gained from the digs, archaeologists have recreated their findings around the site, including a bread oven and pottery kiln. Come here on certain days throughout the year to see live demonstrations and community events. There is even a Roman feast each year! 

Narbonne

Continue your Roman cruise of discovery when you stop off in Narbonne. This town was built by decree from Rome and situated at the crossing of the first and second Roman roads in Western Europe, a section of original road can be seen in the town centre.  At its peak, Narbonne was home to around 100,000 settlers,  nowadays Narbonne is a laid back town of around 47,000.

When wandering around Narbonne you will see a row of houses built across a bridge. This is one arch of the Merchant’s Bridge, which during the roman period would have been 6 times longer as the canal was once a wide river. On one bank of the canal you will find the original town of Narbonne, with its Archbishop’s Palace and cathedral, on the other side you will find the Gothic Basilica of Saint Paul-Serge, and Les Hall de Narbonne - a large indoor food market.

Paraza

At the heart of the village of Paraza you will find the Château de Paraza, one of the oldest estates dedicated to the growing of vines in the South of France. Dating back to the 17th century, the chateau hosted the architect Pierre Paul Riquet during the construction of the Canal du Midi. As a gift to his hosts, he later built seven magnificent terraces with stunning views of the Aude valley and the Pyrenees.

The 75 hectare vineyard produces grape varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre and the wine produced here is among the best wines in the South of France, recognised and exported worldwide. Moor up and walk up the hill to the chateau for a friendly welcome, wine tasting and some seriously stunning views.

See these sights

If you like the look of what this region has to offer and fancy experiencing any of the above for yourself, take a look at our Midi-Robine Cruise. 

Have you been to the Midi already? Pop over to our Facebook page and let us know your 5 must-stop destinations!