Southern France’s premier luxury hotel barge experience. Come cruise the historic Canal du Midi with us.

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Your Hosts

The Athos du Midi 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.

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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.

On Deck

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.

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The Athos Story

Built in 1964 as a commercial grain and wine barge, the Athos is a historic canal boat 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.

Argeliers

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.

Capestang

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.

Fonserannes

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.

Portiragnes

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.

Marseillan Ville

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.

 
  • Carcassonne
  • Minerve
  • Bize
  • Narbonne
  • Pézenas
  • Mèze

Location

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.

History

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.

Sources

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.

Food

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.

Wine

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.

Spring

  • 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

Summer

  • 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

Autumn

  • 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

Cruises

Choose from special interest cruises and our popular “Best of the Languedoc” route that covers an inspired itinerary. If you’re booking an individual cabin, you’ll enjoy the “Best of the Languedoc” cruise.

Special Interest itineraries are available to charter groups with a shared passion for wine, painting, golf or tennis. These cruises integrate the “Best of the Languedoc” route with time dedicated for specialty activities.

Standard Cruises

“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.

Argeliers

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Tennis Cruise

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.

Golf Cruise

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.

Painting Cruise

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.

Prices


 2015 $ USD UK £ Euro €
value regular value regular value regular
Stateroom per person 4330 4770 2860 3150 3360 3695
Single supplement 1200 1400 850 950 1000 1150
Charter for 6 passengers 34670 38825 22900 25640 26880 30100
Charter for 8 passengers 38820 43300 25640 28600 30100 33580
Charter for 10 passengers 42300 47650 27940 31480 32800 36950
Family discount/child $300 £185 € 225
Value Season:
March 31-April 27 & October 13 – November 2
Regular Season:
April 28 – October 12

Download our Athos Holiday Package for detailed booking and cruising information.

Contact & Booking

Ready to book your 2015 holiday? Want to learn more about cruising on the Athos on the historic Canal du Midi?

Get in touch

Please use this form to contact us with questions or to book your holiday. You’ll receive a response within 48 hours.

Mailing address

13 rue Abbé Gouttes
11120 ARGELIERS
France

Call us

Office: + 33(0) 468 338 392
Cell: + 33(0) 683 717 633
Fax: + 33(0) 468 463 604

Inside of the Athos
Fragrant peonies

Passenger Comments

“We took this tour in 2009 with family and it was one of the most memorable experiences ever! The food was fabulous, the crew charming, helpful and informative. Captain Julian was most hospitable, and even let my 88 year old father pilot! We absolutely recommend the Athos.”

Laura & Philip

“Eight of us took this tour a few years back and it was splendid. From the outstanding knowledge Dannielle has of the art and history of this part of France, to over the top food service and fresh hot croissants in the mornings, we still talk about this trip. Absolutely the way to see this part of France.”

Jim

“Very relaxing, fantastic scenery, excellent food and a very good selection of wines and local produce. The cultural tours and excellent service by the Athos staff… we like being pampered like this.”

Lauren S, USA

“Hi Danielle and Julian, finally back home. I can’t express in words how fantastic the experience has been. Both of you are amazing in your knowledge and skills. My wife and I still find ourselves laughing over the “Captain’s Dinner”.”

M.S., Austrailia

The Athos Blog

Champagne flutes at the ready

How to Choose Your Best Bubbly

Although there is nothing wrong with being partial to a glass or two of Dom Perignon, a respectable sparkling wine doesn’t have to cost the price of a bottle of His own.

1. Determine your preferences for sparkles: Do you prefer:
- the traditional dry and biscuit-y taste of AOC Champagne or would you rather a wine that’s fruitier or even sweet?
- how do you like the size of the bubbles: smaller or larger / coarser or smoother?

In the Languedoc, a number of traditional grape varietals and fermentation methods are used which affect the generally-described differences above. Chenin and Mauzac, grapes used in the Languedoc “Blanquette” give for a fruitier, and often sweeter sparkling wine with finer bubbles than its drier counterpart, Cremant. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the predominant grapes in Cremant, and the no-sugar-added fermentation process produces a coarser bubble, making it generally more akin to traditional Champagne.

Both approaches have their merits. Sweeter sparkling can be a delightful accompaniment to dessert, or refreshing as a pre-dinner drink with savoury canapes. Most people are hard-pressed to find a bad accompaniment for a dry sparkling wine with a clean finish!

2. After the broad guidelines above, making a choice for a favourite in-house sparkling is a matter of tasting and testing.  Note: Some might find the taste-testing a demanding task – others less so.

Bubbly


Bubbly

Cremant de Limoux

Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone & Honey

This is an Emeril Lagasse recipe & photo that’s followed by Martha Stewart and a whole line-up of others including Athos! It’s perfect for the perfectly ripe peaches of the Languedoc:

INGREDIENTS
• 6 large ripe peaches, halved and pitted
• 6 tablespoons honey, plus more for serving (optional)
• 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
DIRECTIONS
• Preheat a grill to medium-high.
• Place the peaches, cut side down, on the grill and cook until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the peaches, cut side up, to a grill-proof baking dish or baking sheet, and drizzle them evenly with the honey. Place the dish on the grill and close the grill. Cook until the peaches are soft, about 5 minutes.
• Remove the baking dish from the grill, and divide the peach halves among six dessert plates. Divide the mascarpone evenly among the plates, and drizzle with additional honey if desired. Serve immediately.

Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone