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Hotel Barge Caroline:
Sample Cycling Cruise Itinerary
Canal du Midi: Beziers to Carcassonne Biking Program 2013
Guests are picked up at approximately 4pm by Uli, your Captain, at the pre-arranged meeting point and transferred by private air-conditioned Multivan to the Caroline mooring. Champagne welcome aboard by Ute, your Chef, and time to settle in while Caroline is starting her first little cruise to your evening mooring. Relax on deck and watch the picturesque French landscape glide past. Our mooring tonight overlooks a wide area with vineyards and what hopes to be many a marvelous sunset from our deck during your week. Four course welcome dinner on board. Today's welcome dinner is, as with dinners every night on Caroline, served with matching wines for the individual dishes.
You will get all of the information needed for the upcoming week. Typically you can bike everyday between 20 and 55 kms. These distances are from and to the Caroline. You start in the morning, having lunch at noon in a little bar or cafe, which you will find nearly everywhere along your trail. Ute has prepared some water or your preferred drinks and little snacks, so you have them always handy during your bike ride. When you are back on board in the afternoon, then Caroline starts her afternoon cruise. During your stay, we provide you with a cell phone. You can call Uli at any time for whatever reason and he will be there. Or he can pick you up by car and get you back to Caroline halfway through your ride or whenever you call. They will give you information regarding your trail as written, detailed information as well as a GPS tool, which might help you in finding your way.
Awaken to enjoy an extensive continental breakfast with freshly brewed coffee, tea, fruit juices, croissants and baguettes, jams, ham, and cereal. Your bike ride starts along the canal on the towpath heading towards the flight of seven locks and the huge aqueduct of Beziers. You will see the tunnel, Pierre-Paul Riquet built for the canal du Midi. The Pre-Roman site of Oppidum d'Enserune, which was essential to the ancient Via Domitia, the Roman road, connecting Rome with Spain, and the unique Lake of Montady. Enjoy lunch at your expense at various places during your day. The path is level along the canal most of the time. Alternatively, why not pedal to a Mediterranean beach, only 25 km away? At approx imately 15:00 you will meet Caroline at a agreed mooring from where we will start the afternoon cruise. After your dinner, which will be held on Caroline every evening, you can enjoy the evening sitting on deck with a glass of wine or digestif, relaxing, talking about your adventurous day, and laughing.
Your adventure today will be a 25 km ride into the Mountains of the Minervoise, visiting the little ancient hilltop village of Minerve, which is situated at a level of approx 180 meters. There are still about 100 people living there. This visit is a must. Minerve's history is old and sometimes not pleasant. The official roads leading up to Minerve are asphalt and traffic density is not high. You will have a safe trip up into the hills. Having seen the little Museum of Hurepel, which will tell you everything about the cruelties which happened in this area 800 years ago, you can have a bite in one of the little bars/cafes up here. Back to Caroline in the afternoon, again we start an afternoon cruise, stopping at the little hamlet of Le Somail, where your dinner on board Caroline starts after maybe walking and exploring this small village.
From Le Somail, we recommend a visit to the Abbey of Fontfroide, near Narbonne. Today's trail is plain and totals 40 km. You will ride through the countryside with vineyards. You can take your lunch at the Fontfroide Cafe or snack on Ute’s packed lunch which you carry in one of backpacks provided. Tonight's mooring, after the afternoon cruise, will be at a Chateau, which resides on the banks of the canal. Why not a quick wine tasting before your dinner on Caroline starts?
Today Uli recommends "a day off". He would like to show you the village of Narbonne. We visit (by Caroline’s minivan) the open air markets of Narbonne, the Palace of the Archbishop, the ancient underground cave storage and the Cathedral St Just, with its impressive organ. From this vantage point you can see the ancient Via Domitia. Narbonne was founded in 118 BC by the Romans along the Via Domitia. While enjoying the markets you can look for souvenirs before Uli invites you for lunch at a typical bar in the covered food market in the center of Narbonne. The cruise this afternoon includes our first lock. The night mooring will be in a small vineyard village where Ute has prepared your dinner. You prefer to bike instead? No problem at all. Another recommended bike ride leads into the steeper hilled area of Lagrasse, south of the Canal du Midi, into the foot hills of the Pyrenees. Lagrasse is situated at 108 meters with 600 inhabitants.
The village is full of history and pretty houses. This trail is a total of about 55 km.
Today's adventure is the wine tour. After breakfast, you bike into a village west of Caroline's mooring. This is an easy trail which ends at a vineyard. Here you will be welcomed by the winemaker himself. He will tell you everything you wish to know and explain winemaking in depth. You have a "degustation" (tasting) of his wines followed by a "Winemakers Lunch," with their wines of course. After this experience, which can take about 3 hours in total, Uli will pick you up and guide you safely back to Caroline by car. The cruise this afternoon ends, after having gone through some bigger locks, in the village of Homps. Here you enjoy the farewell dinner tonight.
After a relaxing breakfast, we will say goodbye and take our guests to their next destination, leaving at approximately 10 a.m. Drop-off may be coordinated at your hotel, the rail station, or depending on our cruise direction, the Carcassonne Airport.
Note: This is a sample itinerary and stops and excursions may be altered to suit guest's individual ideas and skills. We have alternative excursions prepared for you which we will talk about on your welcome evening. It may run in reverse depending on the cruise direction.
For further information or to book your cycling cruise week, call Special Places Travel at 1-877-64-BARGE (1-877-642-2743).
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