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.
The Canal du Midi runs through the heart of the Languedoc in the South of France. Less well known than neighbouring Provence, but equally charming, Languedoc is a renowned winemaking region that produces more than a third of the grapes in France. But Languedoc is not all AOC wines, open air markets and foie gras. It’s home to some of Europe’s oldest and most breathtaking castles. Whether you’re inspired by good wine, sunflower fields, charming villages or Medieval fortresses, Languedoc will not disappoint.
The Canal du Midi was constructed by Pierre Paul Riquet and more than 12,000 workers between 1667 and 1681. The 240 km canal joined the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, opening up a prosperous trade route. But, the Canal du Midi’s fame was short-lived. When the railway came to France just 150 years later in 1832, canal traffic declined. Today the Canal du Midi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourist attraction, though still a hidden gem.
Food & Wine
Chef knows that sublime food and wine is a principle reason to come to France, that’s why he’s here! Each meal aboard the Athos is special. Inspired both by the tradition of rich, French cuisine and fresh Mediterranean ingredients, Chef takes passengers on a journey through the very best of the Southern French culinary tradition.
Have a dish or ingredient you’d like to try? Chef is more than happy to serve your favourite meal as you dine under Canal du Midi Plane trees.
The Languedoc is home to a great diversity of food and culinary traditions, all of which feature exceptional local ingredients. The warm summer sun and rich terroir produce some of Europe’s best peaches, plums, leeks, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, and of course wines.
Chef sources local ingredients at open-air markets and uses only the best Languedoc meats. Eating fresh, in-season produce is a Southern French delight and we want you to experience it in every Athos dish.
Gourmet French meals are a centerpiece of the Athos experience. Chef carefully selects fresh produce from the local markets and will delight you with cuisine that reflects the region and its love affair with food. Dishes inspired by the first cherries of spring through to the squash harvest in October will be a holiday highlight.
When you think French wines Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy come to mind. But, the Languedoc is a truly exciting wine region with so much more variety and so many different flavours.
Enjoy beautiful sparkling wines; elegant white wines that pair so well with local oysters cultivated at the nearby coast; and full-bodied red wines that taste of the wild herbs that grow in the Mediterranean landscape.
If you’re looking to discover new wines, Languedoc is the place to come.
- Local spring asparagus flash-grilled in clarified butter, cracked black pepper, fleur de sel and lemon zest, served with oven-warmed olive bread.
- Magret de canard with an orange and ginger reduction, creamy celeriac puree and julienned vegetables of carrots, leeks and florets of broccoli
- 3 fromages: Ecu de Combebelle, Bresse Bleu, Brie de Meaux dressed with walnuts and baby mesclun greens
- Carpaccio of lightly-steeped pineapple infused with vanilla and citrus syrup, served with an orange tuile biscuit and lemon sorbet
- Wines: Etang de Colombes, Blanc AOC Corbieres, Borie du Maurel, Esprit d’Automne AOC Minervois
- Traditional French onion soup with caramelized onions and topped with a slice of rustic bread seasoned with chopped parsley and Comté cheese
- Vegetable alternative: Thick and hearty Gascogne Garlic Soup with butter roasted onions and garlic topped with rustic bread and herb gratin
- Warm timbale of roasted Mediterranean vegetables layered with pesto and parmesan, served with a confit of sundried tomato and fresh basil and romaine lettuce salad
- 3 fromages: St. Maure de Touraine, Tomme de Brebis, St. Félicien served with whole almonds and tart apple slices
- Warm baked pear, orange and sultana crumble of ginger biscuits served with warm fresh cream
- Wine: Domaine d’Orthau Pinot Noir
- Filo parcel of fresh local goats’ cheese served with sweet Muscat-poached pear and served with its Muscat reduction
- Braised Lamb shanks drizzled in their roasting juices served with saffron-infused warm Mediterranean couscous, pomegranate and coriander salsa and a medley of crispy pan-fried carrots, Chinese lettuce, mange touts and green beans
- 3 fromages: Gaperon, Beaufort, St. Marcellin plated with dried apricots and lambs’ lettuce
- Walnut Tarte on orange-zested short crust butter pastry with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, fresh sliced strawberries, and topped with a rum caramel
- Wine: Domaine d’Orthau Chardonnay en fut, La Bergerie d’Hortus AOC Rouge Classique
Canal du Midi Cruises
Athos offers Canal du Midi cruises to suit both couples looking for a romantic French holiday and groups celebrating a special deluxe event or planning the ultimate family holiday.
If you choose to cruise by booking an Individual deluxe Cabin, you’ll experience our popular “Best of the Languedoc” cruise route. “Best of Languedoc” is an inspired itinerary that includes daily cruising on the Canal du Midi as well as a full selection of irresistible shore excursions, from hilltop towns to wine tasting to outdoor market mornings for all our guests.
If you’d like to cruise the Canal du Midi with your closest friends and family, you have the option of booking a Whole Boat Charter and choosing from our Special Interest itineraries. Do you have a shared passion for wine, painting, golf or tennis? These French Canal cruises integrate the “Best of the Languedoc” route, daily barge cruising AND time dedicated for specialty activities as part of your luxury barge boat holiday. For Wine and Painting cruises, Athos is happy to recommend a professional Master of Wine or a qualified Painting Instructor to accompany and guide your activities while on your Canal du Midi cruise holiday.
Whether you opt to book as a group Charter or by Individual Cabin, a typical day onboard Athos might begin with a leisurely breakfast on deck, followed by a chauffeur-driven ride through the Languedoc countryside to a morning visit of the local Olive Pressoir. The onboard guide will then show you the magic and history that surround the scenic hilltop town of Minerve. Once you’re back on the Athos, a gourmet al fresco lunch, a chilled glass of wine, and a shaded and comfortable reclining chair makes for a perfect afternoon of cruising on the Canal du Midi.
“Best of Languedoc”
Our “Best of the Languedoc” cruise brings you highlights of the Languedoc region. You’ll walk the ramparts of the fortified city of Carcasonne; drive alongside the dramatic Gorge de la Cesse and explore the hilltop village of Minerve; visit a local olive oil pressoir; wander open air markets; and cruise past the marshlands of the “Petite Camargue”, ideal for spotting pink flamingos.
Upon arrival in Montpellier, you’ll be chauffeured to the Athos at her mooring in the charming Argeliers port, located at the southern edge of the Haut-Minervois. Champagne reception and gourmet canapés await. Once settled in to your cabin, you’ll enjoy a four-course dinner under the Plane trees and overlooking an original 18th century stone bridge.
Capestang & Carcassonne
Carcasonne is a picture-perfect fairytale castle. The Athos 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.
Later in the day, the Athos will moor in the quaint village of Capestang in view of the lovely, flood-lit Collegiale St. Etienne cathedral. Take a stroll into the village before chef begins dinner service.
Regismont le Haut & Minerve
Ever wondered how olive oil is made? Find out at the Oulibo where French olive oil is artfully pressed. Then taste a variety of organic olives and olive oils accompanied, of course, by a glass of rosé.
It’s just a short drive up the Gorge de la Cesse to the dramatic hilltop village of Minerve. Minerve is the heart of Cathar country and is an important place in Languedoc history where Cathar Christians of the 11th century were attacked during the crusades.
Fonserannes & Narbonne
Your Languedoc experience would not be complete without a visit to a French market. That’s what we’ll do 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 Beziers. 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.
Portiragnes and Pezenas
The historic market town of Pezanas was the first seat of the Languedoc court where noble families lived in “Hotels Particuliers”, or 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 Pezenas with his theatre group, l’Illustre Théâtre.
The evening’s mooring is just outside the village of Portiragnes. The paved tow path and romantic scenery make Portiragnes a lovely spot for walking or cycling. Then it’s time to enjoy another delicious, gourmet four-course dinner on board the Athos.
Agde to Marseillan
En route to Agde we cruise past the estuaries of the “Petit Camargue”, a bird watcher’s paradise! Bring binoculars to spot exotic species like Pink Flamingos, African Rollers and Bee Eaters. At Agde, a spectacular seafood lunch awaits! We’ll dine in the open-waters of the Etang de Thau, Europe’s largest mussel and oyster park.
No better way to follow an oyster lunch than by cruising to nearby Marseillan for a tour of the Noilly Prat Vermouth distillery, with a tasting of course.
Family and Friends Cruise
Organizing a family reunion or a special getaway with eight of your closest friends?
We’ll work with you to develop an itinerary, meals and excursions that will please every guest and make your reunion the experience of a lifetime.
Wine Tasting Cruise
There’s no better way to treat your inner oenophile than on an Athos wine cruise. From extraordinary tastings to lively discussions with our Master of Wine who provides wine education and daily wine touring, this week is dedicated to the wonders of wine.
Join us for a truly unique way to discover the best wines of the Languedoc.
What’s a holiday for tennis aficionados without a match or two? The Athos Tennis Cruise brings you the best of French scenery, history, cuisine and cruising with plenty of time set aside for the tennis court. You’ll enjoy some of France’s most picturesque views from the courts we select alongside our Canal du Midi route. Want a post-match cool down? Hop on one of our hybrid bikes and cycle alongside the canal and through scenic villages.
The Athos Golf Cruise marries your love of the game with the good life. Combine historical and cultural excursions with golf games under the Mediterranean sun. You’ll be chauffeured to and from some of France’s best courses, only to arrive back on board where Chef has prepared a decadent four-course meal. Contact us to find out more about the golfing opportunities in Languedoc.
Calling all art lovers. Join talented artist and teacher Andrew John for a week-long floating art course aboard the Athos. Flanked by some of France’s most beautiful countryside, you’ll encounter inspiration everywhere! The painting cruise combines lessons and practice time with excursions and the very best of French cuisine.
|2016 Prices||$ USD|
|Stateroom per person||4330||4770|
|Charter for 6 passengers||34670||38825|
|Charter for 8 passengers||38820||43300|
|Charter for 10 passengers||42300||47650|
- Value Season:
- April 3 – April 30 & October 9 – October 29
- Regular Season:
- May 1 – October 8
Contact & Booking
Ready to book your holiday, or want to learn more about the Athos or the historic Canal du Midi? Please write to us below.
Get in touch
Please use this form to contact us with questions or to book your barge trip in France holiday. You’ll receive a response within 48 hours.
13 rue Abbé Gouttes
Office: + 33(0) 468 338 392
Cell: + 33(0) 683 717 633
Fax: + 33(0) 468 463 604
The Athos Blog
Building the annual onboard wine list is always an adventure. From year to year, we follow our palates, and the trusty advice of friend & Master of Wine, Juliet Bruce-Jones. Most years Athos keeps to many of the tried and true Languedoc wineries, although we occasionally switch up for something new and interesting.
Last weekend saw a quick tasting at Chateau La Negly. La Negly is one of the tried and true Languedoc producers, and a must-taste for wino’s and cruisers of the Languedoc. Here’s what we bought to add to our 2015 list –
La Natice – an exceptional diversion from the region’s many good dry & fruity Languedoc roses. Although crisp and dry, La Natice delivers a fragrant, almost perfume-y strawberry nose. Elegant. And it’s a posh bottle.
La Natice, perfectly elegant rosé.
La Brise Marine – la Negly sits directly on the coastline between Vendres and Narbonne Plage and so is directly exposed to the ocean air, or “brise marine” and its clay mineral soil. Made from 70% Bourboulenc and 30% Roussanne grapes, giving notes of peaches, mango and almonds, this is a perfect pairing for seafood.
La Brise Marine, AOC Coteaux de Languedoc
La Falaise 2011 Coteaux de Languedoc: In fact, sold out. But Negly have pulled out all the stops and gone digging in their cellars to come out with enough of the 2011 for Athos’ 2015 season. Here’s what Curious Wines said about it: “This deep ruby red Syrah (50%), Grenache (40%) and Mourvèdre (10%) blend shows raspberry and blackberry fruit with undertones of chocolate and black olives on the nose. Hints of liqourice and roasted coffee beans mingle with dark fruit on the palate, where the wine displays ripe, smooth tannins and a long, savoury finish.” Cheers!