The Athos du Midi barge hotel is owned and operated by Julian and Dannielle Farrant. Julian has captained the Athos for 25 seasons, traversing the canal more than 5000 times. While traveling in 1997, Dannielle worked aboard the Athos as a hostess. She was romanced by the Languedoc (and Julian), and made France her home. The Athos tour guide for eight years, she now works behind-the-scenes to ensure that cruising the Canal du Midi is your best holiday ever.
The Athos Crew
Led by Captain Julian, a professional crew of two hostesses, a tour guide and accomplished chef deliver first-class food, captivating excursions and fine service. The Athos crew has a well-earned reputation for hosting with charm and skill.
Inside the Athos
Each bright cabin, with en suite bathroom and shower, reflects the understated beauty of the French countryside. Fresh cut flowers and lavender body products are reminders that you’re taking in the best of the South of France.
The salon is a comfortable, intimate place for relaxing with a book, sipping an aperitif, and enjoying a five-course meal.
The Athos’ outdoor deck is the most spacious and comfortable of any vessel on the Canal du Midi. Dine in the shade of Plane trees or settle into a cushioned, hardwood deck chair for a post-lunch siesta in the warm Mediterranean sun. Feeling adventurous? Take an on-board bicycle and discover what’s up ahead on the towpath, the shore-side trail originally used by horses towing barges.
The Athos Story
Built in 1964 as a commercial grain and wine barge, the Athos is a historic canal du Midi barge specially designed to navigate the Canal du Midi’s narrow waterway and 17th century bridges. It was converted into a luxury hotel barge in 1982 and renovated again in 2007 and fully equipped with modern luxuries. As one of the few traditionally barges left on the canal, cruising on the Athos awakens the romance and history of the Canal du Midi and Southern France.
From the Athos’ home mooring in charming Argeliers port, located at the southern edge of the Haut-Minervois, you’ll enjoy champagne, gourmet canapés, and a four-course dinner under the Plane trees and overlooking an 18th century stone bridge.
We’ll use Athos’ comfortable minibuses to drive to the Medieval Château at Carcassonne in the morning, where our guide will walk you back through time in an unforgettable tour of the fortified city. You’ll have plenty of time to take in the romantic setting and to explore and shop for Languedoc specialties and souvenirs.
We next moor at the quaint village of Capestang in view of the lovely, flood-lit Collegiale St. Etienne cathedral.
In the village of Bize Minervois we’ll visit the Oulibo and taste a variety of organic olives and olive oils accompanied, of course, by a glass of rosé.
A short drive up the Gorge de la Cesse takes us to the dramatic hilltop village of Minerve, in the heart of Cathar country and an historic point where Cathar Christians of the 11th century were attacked during the crusades.
Our mooring at the Fonserannes overlooks the staircase locks, the Orb River and Beziers. From here we’ll visit a French market in the charming town of Narbonne. We’ll also explore an excavated original Roman road, take-in the Roman Museum and enjoy a cafe au lait while blending in with the town’s lively cafe scene.
The week’s cruising highlight is the Fonserannes, the seven staircase locks at Béziers. Fonserannes has eight lock chambers and nine gates, allowing the Athos to be raised a remarkable 21.5 meters in a distance of just 300 meters.
At our mooring just outside the village of Portiragnes, the paved tow path and romantic scenery make a lovely spot for walking or cycling.
From here we visit the market town of Pézenas, taking in the “Hotels Particuliers”, mansions whose striking architecture is unique to this town. Theatre lovers will enjoy the guide’s stories about French playwright, Moliere, who once stayed in Pézenas with his theatre group, l’Illustre Théâtre.
En route to Agde we cruise past the estuaries of the “Petit Camargue”, a bird watcher’s paradise with exotic species like Pink Flamingos, African Rollers and Bee Eaters. At Agde, a spectacular seafood lunch awaits! We’ll dine while floating on the open waters of the Étang de Thau, Europe’s largest mussel and oyster park.
There’s no better way to follow an oyster lunch than by cruising to the nearby Port of Marseillan for a tour of the Noilly Prat Vermouth distillery, with a tasting of course.