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Bordeaux Wine Cruises

 

The Region

West from Toulouse the canal becomes the Canal Lateral a la Garonne, passing through Moissac, Agen and Castets-en Dorthe ending at the beautiful the 18th century city of Bordeaux. Started in 1666 and built by as many as 12,000 men, the Canal du midi runs 235 kilometres and requires over 100 locks to join the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Plane trees and poplars line the banks of the Canal du Midi against the hot summer sunshine. From the pink city of Toulouse to the port of Sete, the canal cuts through Southern France.

Cruise to Toulouse

Bespoke, luxury cruises in one of the most fascinating corners of France

Up to 6 guests

Alasdair & Barbara Wyllie would like to welcome you aboard The Saint Louis, for a cruise through the beautiful heartland of south-west France

There is so much to do, so much to see, and we pride ourselves on being able to take the extra effort to personalise the cruise holiday around the real wishes of our individual clients.

We have a quality air-conditioned support vehicle; this is used for transfers to and from the boat, and for all the excursions and visits you choose to make during your holiday.

The history and the architecture of south west France is breathtaking, with a wealth of Roman and Mediaeval buildings. We can guide you to these places, or we can help you enjoy a wide range of activities on-board and on-shore, we can take you to wine tastings at some of the best vineyards in France, or you can simply sit back and relax on the terrace deck watching the world slip slowly by.

“A barge holiday is one of the loveliest things you can possibly do” (RS, England, writer)

The facilities on board the Saint Louis are all designed to make your time with us as comfortable and interesting as possible. The three large cabins are all en-suite, with private shower, wc, etc. The boat is fully air conditioned. We have a small library, with a range of reference and fiction books. And we have a selection of indoor games for those rare rainy days.

It is a key part of our style on board to arrange the cruise and the excursions to suit your own personal preferences, and we have the flexibility to make modifications, even at short notice, to fit in with your wishes and interests.

The constructed heritage in this part of France is quite breathtaking. Let us take you to some of the more interesting places. One of our favourites is Moissac, City of Roman Art. The area abounds in other Roman works - bridges, wash-houses, cloisters, etc. There are scores of Bastides, (mediaeval fortified towns), many in a superb state of preservation. There are more recent chateaux, churches, and other interesting buildings. There are also some impressive constructions which form part of the canal engineering - such as the water-slope at Montech, and the aqueducts at Moissac and Agen. Man’s history in south-west France for the last 2,000 years, sometimes surprising and often turbulent, has left a rich legacy of architecture. If you find this particularly interesting, we can always arrange for a specialised history guide to join us for part of the cruise.

We are also able to introduce you to a wide variety of cultural events, ranging from country markets to classical concerts. There are various festivals held in some of the centres during the summer months. There is also a collection of Goya masterpieces on display in Agen. Perhaps you are interested in museums - as well as all the more usual of these, there is a Cadillac museum, a Prune museum, and a Foie Gras museum! (did you know that foie gras originated in Egypt 4,500 years ago?)

For the more active, the Saint Louis offers a range of options. We carry 6 bicycles on board, for leisurely rides along the tow-path or for exploring local villages. Tennis is a possibility - we have racquets on board, and we have made arrangements to play at various tennis clubs en-route. There are several golf courses in the area, and you can choose between taking the occasional game of golf or coming on one of our specialised Golf Cruises (click here) If you want to do other things - let us know, it’s your holiday! We carry equipment on board for the French game of Petanque. Or perhaps walking is your passion - this part of France is crossed by the main pilgrim’s route of Compostella di Santiago, which since the 9th century has been one of the most important pilgrim routes in Christendom; perhaps you would like to walk a section of this route while you are with us?

Many of our guests would consider that a holiday in this area would be incomplete without savouring some of the really excellent wines produced here. We can take you to tastings in top-quality vineyards of world renown, or we can offer you a speciality Wine Cruise

What to bring:

Bear in mind that July and August, in particular, can be quite hot, and that it can rain at any time of the year (guest umbrellas available on board!). The atmosphere on board is generally informal, and guests prefer to dress in a “casual and comfortable” style. Walking shoes can be useful for some excursions and town visits. We have good first aid provision on board - generally no need to bring a first aid kit. Do not forget, of course, sun glasses, sun lotion, a wide brimmed hat, and a camera!

Notes:

Normally, first-name terms are used on Saint Louis. If you prefer that we and the rest of the crew address you more formally, please let us know before you arrive!

In the interests of comfort and safety, smoking is not allowed below deck, or on the support vehicle.

Gourmet Cuisine

The people of south west France have three passions - food, wine and rugby football. We share all three passions, but can only provide two of them on board the Saint Louis!

Aboard the Saint Louis, the French food tradition has become an integral part of the barging experience. Whether you eat in the wood panelled saloon or alfresco on deck, the cuisine will remind you that you are in a part of the world where food is treated lovingly and seriously.

The superb food on board will very largely be based on traditional recipes from this region of France, with ingredients sourced fresh from local suppliers on a daily basis. Magret, foie gras, and seafood will thus be among the basics of our cuisine. The food, and the ambiance, will be added to with a twist of our native Scotland. Dietary wishes, and special dietary needs, will always be well catered for. All meals will be served with quality wines. The bar will be stocked with a range of excellent aperitifs, as well as some superb malt whiskies from Scotland.

The superb food on board is very largely based on traditional recipes from this region of France, with ingredients sourced fresh from local suppliers on a daily basis. Magret, foie gras, and seafood are thus among the basics of the cuisine. The food, and the ambiance, will be added to with a twist of our native Scotland. Dietary wishes and special dietary needs are always well catered for.

Breakfasts are Continental-style, with croissants and bread arriving each morning still warm from the baker’s oven.

Sometimes we will find ourselves close to one of the many very special French restaurants, and we may take you there at our expense to sample the range and quality enjoyed by the people here.

The wines on board will be excellent quality wines selected largely from local vineyards, including some wonderful examples from Gaillac and Fronton, and of course a selection of wines from the Bordeaux region. Local liqueurs will be well represented in the bar, also, with a range of Armagnacs and Flocs de Gasgogne. The bar will also stock a number of distinctive high quality malt whiskies from Scotland.

Sample menus

• Brick de foie gras, julienne de legumes sauce cepes

• Roti de porc aux pruneaux rix pilaf, legumes de saison

• Plateau de fromage

• Tartes aux framboises

• Salade de chevre chaud

• Eventail de magret de canard au miel, legumes de saison

• Plateau de fromage

• Crème dessert rhum et caramel

 

Cruise Options

Classic Cruise

The Classic Cruise is our top-of-the-range option.

All meals are included, and are either taken on board or at quality local restaurants at our expense.

Wines served on board will be of top connoisseur quality.

Casual Cruise

The Casual Cruise is a preference for many people, either because of the lower cost or because of the more relaxed ambience. The main elements of the cruise are the same for both Classic and Casual - transfers from Toulouse, the same range of excursions and visits, the same possible activities, unlimited drinks from the bar, and so on. The main differences are a) with the Casual Cruise, one meal a day is taken ashore, at our guests’ expense and b) with the Casual Cruise, the very top level of wines and spirits are not available. (good quality AOC wines, and for example quality blended whiskies, will continue to be available)

Golf Cruise

Our specialist Golf Cruise can be taken as a part of either the Classic or the Casual cruise, and is included in the cost of the cruise apart from green fees, club hire, etc.

We can even arrange for some of your group to have a specialist Golf Cruise, while others participate in our standard excursions and visits.

Normally, you could expect to play at least one different course each day.

Wine Cruise

Our specialist Wine Cruise can be taken as a part of either the Classic or the Casual cruise, and is included in the cost.

Generally, it works best if all members of your group participate in the Wine Cruise, although if different members of your group would like to do other things, we would always do our very best to find ways of fitting this in.

Normally, you could expect to participate in at least one specialist tasting each day.

If required, we could arrange for a professional wine expert to

Boat Design

boat layout

The Vessel

The Saint Louis was built in Holland in 1923. Some ten years ago, she was bought by her previous owners, who made a fabulous job of the design of the renovation, and of the work itself. They managed to retain her original pleasing lines, while converting her to carry up to six passengers in real comfort. All up-to-date conveniences were fitted, including central heating and air conditioning, and the boat has all the features you could need for a fabulous holiday.

• The three cabins are spacious (127 square foot each) and are light and airy. The accommodation in each can either be twin beds, or queen-sized doubles. They all have fully tiled en-suite bathrooms, with roomy showers. The cabins are well insulated, and equipped with wardrobes, full-length mirrors, dressing-tables and storage.

• The beautifully decorated salon aboard the Saint Louis is very well appointed, with a fitted bar, a dining area, and a “sitting room” with comfortable sofas. There is also a small library, stocked with reference books and novels, and a music centre/CD player.

• The large sun deck has loungers for lazing away those sunny afternoons, and tables and chairs for all those alfresco meals.

Your Hosts

Alasdair & Barbara Wyllie, have worked together on a number of service projects since leaving Scotland in 2001. Back in Argyll, some 10 years ago they set up and ran a prestigious B+B enterprise in addition to their main occupations. They each have a very flexible attitude, and are keen to develop their reputation for being able to tailor a cruise to the exact requirements of their guests, and thus provide an entirely bespoke service. They have lived and worked in south west France for the last two years.

Alasdair's background is in engineering and rural development. He is a very experienced salt-water sailor, and holds the coveted Yachtmaster Offshore (Commercial) certificate (as well of course as having the relevant French papers for skippering a barge in France). With your safety on the road in mind, he holds a UK Advanced Motorists certificate.

Barbara's background is in administration, customer services, and catering. She completed a number of Scottish Tourist Board courses, including Quality Housekeeping. She is a super cook, with a keen interest in dishes from south west France as well as elsewhere in the world.

They have with them a gorgeous Labrador called Mellie; Mellie loves everyone and everyone loves her, but if any group of guests do not wish to have a dog on board, arrangements can be made for her to go and visit one of her friends for the week!

 

Details

Includes

Toulouse transfers to and from the Saint Louis

Accommodation for 6 nights

All meals taken on board and whatever meals taken with us ashore

(please note that with the Casual Cruise, one meal a day ashore is at guests’ expense)

All coffees, teas, cold drinks, drinks from the bar and drinks with meals

the boat
a cabin
the bathroom
the living room
the deck
the living room

Bordeaux Wine Cruises

Our main cruising route is between Montauban and Agen, but we can always tailor-make a cruise for you anywhere on the waterways between Bordeaux and Toulouse. If you would like us to construct a special cruise from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, that is possible too - for this we would generally link up in Toulouse with one of the barges operating on the Canal du Midi.

an arrowInquiry Form

 

Sample Itinerary

Saturday - Arrive on board late afternoon. Captain's reception. Local activities.

Sunday - Cruise through the locks to Montauban. Guided excursions in Montauban and surrounding areas. Return on board + cruise to Montech.

Monday - Descend through the historic Montech water slope. Cruise to Castelsarrasin. Excursions and local activities.

Tuesday - Cruise to Moissac - (City of Roman Art) - via the aqueduct over the River Tarn. Guided excursions in Moissac and surrounding areas.

Wednesday - Further excursions in Moissac area. Cruise to Valence. Local activities and excursions.

Thursday - Cruise to Agen. Excursions to Agen and surrounding areas.

Friday - Departure after breakfast to Toulouse.

 

All excursions and visits

Use of all on-board equipment

Full-time crew of 4 (occasionally 3)

Your cruise price does not include:

Airfares to France, travel within France to our designated meeting place

Cancellation and travel insurance (strongly recommended)

Health / accident insurance (strongly recommended)

Any drinks, snacks or sweets bought by you ashore

Sundry purchases and personal items

Green fees, club hire etc in the case of golf being played

Optional crew gratuity - normally in the region of 5%, handled via the Captain in one sum

Single cabin charter may be available for specific weeks only - please enquire.

This will be charged at 1/3 of the Casual Cruise rate.

Each charter week runs from guests being picked up from Toulouse mid-afternoon on the Saturday, to leaving the Saint Louis after breakfast (around 10 am) the following Friday.

We can always provide special prices for multiple weeks or for part weeks - please enquire.

Transfers are made in our very comfortable support vehicle. We uplift from Toulouse - generally either from the airport or from one of the hotels.

One suggested hotel in Toulouse is Hotel Golf de Seilh, which is just 15 minutes from the airport and which has a wide range of facilities - 2 x 18 hole golf courses, swimming pool, tennis, fitness centre, sauna, etc. At present, this hotel is offering a special package for Friday and Saturday nights, which could be of interest to any of our guests who wish to extend their holiday in Toulouse after the cruise.

Other designated meeting places can always be managed by special arrangement. With this in mind, Montauban has good rail connections with Paris, and Agen has flights three times a day from Paris Orly.

 
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