2014 Boat Show for the luxury Barge Companies was held in our lovely village of Capestang. Over a dozen barges set up along the shores displaying some of the most amazing holidays offered in southern France.
These luxury ships range anywhere from 20,000-42,000 per week and sleeps 2-10 people, and cater to you from the moment you step onto the ship. On board chef, hostess, pilot and tour guide are all there to make sure you are taken care of with no detail overlooked.
These experienced chefs are known for using fresh local ingredients, extraordinary desserts paired with the finest wines of the region. From the Egyptian cotton sheets on the beds to the art-deco tiling in the bathrooms, I was impressed at every turn. Each has different features and has their own flare. Most book full for the season with people from around the world wishing to visit the number one tourist destination in the world; southern France.
Athos gave us a warm welcome in the rain and served up warm coffee.
Our group was composed of a variety of people; the Mayor and his delegates, a few Canal du Midi officials, photographers, writers, editors and magazine owners. We made our way around to all the boats before 12:00. After we enjoyed an aperitif with the lovely staff at the Capestang tourist office.
Athos is one of the original boats along the Canal, and inside has beautifully finished wood trim, traditional nautical features and fixtures. They have an extraordinary deck space with a revolutionary awning on top that folds down to get under the bridges.
Esperance was chic, with paneled stripes on the walls in soft blues and cream, über elegant plush carpeting, and a high fashion New York City feel. The staff was very nice and the owner was sweet to give us gifts.
Roi Soleil is worth noting; it has a beautiful open layout on the top floor, a hot tub and outdoor eating space, and below has material lined walls that give it a very French feel. It only sleeps six, but those six are sure to have an amazing holiday, and all the staff sleeps on board.
Enchanté is the most modern double-decked luxury barge we saw. The top floor consists of a modern open kitchen and dining area as well as well allocated sitting areas. The deck has a hot tub, and dining area. Below are the cabins, four in total, and spacious rooms with soapstone showers in tranquil colours. Neutral tones with a hint of light green on the beds, and a splash of lagoon blue tiles along the hallways; the sleeping area is relaxing.
Tango is the Art-Deco floating party barge. I couldn’t get enough of the tiled bathrooms; I love the use of colour next to the real wood features. The rooms were welcoming. The master at the end of the boat was like a museum with wood paneling and a real bathtub with feet. The staff was friendly and interesting with fantastic stories of their lives. I even got to meet the captain’s mom. Big leather couches, a piano and a big dining table inside and another outside with their hot tub. Party on!
Calibri is owned by a lovely couple, which has two live on board dogs (sleeps 4) and Emma was another that felt like I was inside someone’s home (sleeps 6). Both felt like we were visiting old friends and the homey feeling is sure to be nice while travelling the Midi.
Alegria (sleeps 6) is the only barge with giant aquarium like windows to view out. It is decorated in red and brown tones that remind me of Africa. It has a warm comfortable feel and a very nice host.
Fandango and Clair de Lune are classic barges as well, both with original wood features and a friendly staff. My friend Gabi works for Clare de Lune this season so they are very lucky indeed!
One thing that needs mention, is the private hire boats were here as well; France Fluviale, Linsen and Happy Mag. They are becoming more popular with the locals as it is a form of glamour camping along the Midi where everyday you have a new location. They are offered between 1000-2200 per week and sleep 2-8 people. These are self-catered, self-driven holidays. Another great way to slowly meander along the Canal du Midi and experience the rich history, traditions but especially the food of southern France.