A similar story to ours: beginning with love, a remarkable business venture and a successful expat family living in the south of France.

Meet Julian and Dannielle Farrant, owners and operators of Athos du Midi, luxury barge holidays. Athos link  

Did I mention Dannielle is from Kitimat BC? We came all the way to South France to meet our neighbors. Okay, well it isn’t quite that close to Surrey, but it’s a small world after all.

Dannielle and I sing together in the Capestang International Choir, are both from BC Canada with young families in Southern France and quickly began chatting to find we have a few friends in common. Crazy!

She came to the Languedoc, like many, looking for work. The ski season in Chamonix was at a close, Dannielle was 22 at the time. Julian had already been the captain of Athos by then for about 8 years.

‘I thought that he looked like a bit of a wannabe Aussie:  6’4 with seriously sun-bleached uncut hair, painting/work shorts in tatters, and in the style of English humor, cracking jokes about subjects that no one else dare laugh about. Although I told myself that I was far too sensible to fall for a guy 15 years my senior, and so absolutely wouldn’t – of course I did.  We got married in 2004.’ Dannielle recalls.

Julian’s side of the story is equally amusing.  Originally, he came down to South France after a meeting in the pub (as you do) with a couple of Cambridge UK mates who had been working as pilots on French barges & hot air balloons. Julian had just sold up his motorcycle (bike-breaker’s) in Cambridge and was vaguely looking for the next thing.  N, one of the barge & hot air balloon pilot friends, had recently bought shares in Athos ownership – but he was just about incapable of changing a light bulb, much less fixing the myriad of engine, electrical & other typical problems that one encounters on boats.  In any event, he told Julian about barging, to which Julian replied that it sounded incredibly slow and boring, but that as a friend, he’d help N out for no longer than 6 months.  That was 22 years ago.
They have two beautiful children, Jack 4 and Alex; she is 2, both born in Narbonne, in the midst of chaos of barge-season start-up.’They think “Daddy’s boat” is brilliant – and are only ever allowed on it when they can’t break, trash and destroy things on bored, or worse, horrify passengers!  They both speak French and English and think it’s perfectly normal and correct.

The Farrant family even have a dog that lived on board Athos. ‘Jill the dog is probably more of an onboard fixture than the children, although she’s such a big baby these days and so attached to the kids and I that she’s not all that enthusiastic about going to “work” on Athos anymore. She’s nearly 9 years old now, and more docile than any self-respecting dog ever abandoned in a Languedoc-vineyard.’

The Hamori family has been invited on Athos to sample canapes, take pictures, and meet the operation first hand next month, then we will bring you more news on our experience aboard Athos. Should be a fun time.