European Waterways Canal Barge Anjodi Review

European Waterways Luxury Canal Barge Anjodi

European Waterways Luxury Canal Barge Anjodi

European Waterways Canal Barge Anjodi Review

WJ Tested: Cruising the Canal du Midi in the South of France

An introduction to barge cruising on the Canal du Midi and Anjodi:

In the 17th century in the south of France, Pierre-Paul Riquet created a masterpiece.  His canvas stretched from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea…  Riquet engineered the Canal du Midi, a 240-km long canal which along with the Canal de Garonne connects the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The canal is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cruising the UNESCO World Heritage Site Canal du Midi in France

Cruising the UNESCO World Heritage Site Canal du Midi in France

What was once a primary waterway for commerce and trade, the Canal du Midi is now a recreational mecca for canal boating and barge cruising.  For over thirty years, European Waterways has been fine-tuning its fleet of luxury hotel barges, boasting a resplendent flotilla of some of the finest luxury vessels to ply the canal.  Wave Journey enjoyed the warm embrace of Anjodi and her crew for an unforgettable journey along the Canal du Midi from Le Somail to Marseillan in the Languedoc region of southern France.

Anjodi's Salon

Anjodi’s Salon

Anjodi, a classic Dutch barge refurbished in African hardwoods, rich handcrafted paneling and brass accents, effuses old-world charm.  With four staterooms, allowing for a maximum of eight passengers, this 102′ x 16.5′ barge provided us with a delightful setting for intimate socializing and grand camaraderie with our fellow passengers.  The spacious deck with ample and comfortable seating afforded unbridled views of the fall foliage as we cruised along the plane tree-lined canal.  The salon with comfy couches, loads of reading material, games and music made for a perfect respite before easing into the dining area for meal after meal of gastronomic pleasure created primarily from regional delicacies, local produce, cheeses and wines.

Delicious Dining Aboard Anjodi

Delicious Dining Aboard Anjodi

Anjodi lends itself to decadence.  The feel of luxury abounds.  A week on this luxury barge hotel provides ample time to relax, be quiet and contemplative with picture-book surroundings, explore amazingly gorgeous villages, as well as, historical sites and wineries.  If a guest is so inclined, a walk or a bike ride on the towpath is easily accomplished just by asking.  The slow pace of the barge makes for easy coordinating of exercise along the path.  Thank goodness for digital photography, as photo opportunities are endless along the canal.  Anjodi is an idyllic getaway for a family or a group of friends. Short of that, count on your fellow passengers becoming friends soon after the champagne welcome!

Exploring the South of France with European Waterways

Exploring the South of France with European Waterways

Location: The Canal du Midi in southern France has been in existence for more than 300 years. The original idea of the canal came about as a way to transport goods between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Pierre-Paul Riquet was responsible for the construction that took place between 1667 and 1681, taking over twelve thousand men and women to dig out the 240 km (150 miles) of canal that connects Toulouse and Sete.
These days, the peaceful tree-lined waterway that meanders through the Languedoc region is used primarily by hotel barges and pleasure boaters cruising at a snail’s pace (averaging 5 km/hour). Along the route are many picturesque villages, tiny hamlets, ancient Roman bridges, miles of vineyards, the Pyrennees mountains in the distance, 1 tunnel, 91 locks and 40 aqueducts.UNESCO added the Canal du Midi to its list of World Heritage Sites in 1999.
During our 6-night cruise aboard Anjodi approximately 50 kms (30 miles) were covered, the Orb aquaduct crossed, the Malpas Tunnel cruised through and 7 locks navigated. Locks included the Agde Round Lock (where two barges fit side by side) and the staircase Fonserannes Lock (7 flights) near Beziers.

Itinerary:

Welcome Aboard Anjodi in Le Somail

Welcome Aboard Anjodi in Le Somail

Canal du Midi – Le Somail to Agde
The typical itinerary that Anjodi follows on the Canal du Midi is Le Somail to Marseillan, or vice versa. Our cruise ended in Agde (the last town along the canal route to Marseillan) due to high-waters from a few days of heavy rain. Prior to dinner being served each evening, passengers would meet in the salon with the captain for an aperitif and briefing of what was on the agenda for the next day.Sunday 18th – Montpellier to Le Somail.
We were met at the Holiday Inn hotel in Montpellier at 4pm by Captain Julian Allsop and escorted by minivan to Anjodi where she was moored in the delightful village of Le Somail. Upon coming aboard and being greeted by the crew, we enjoyed a Champagne welcome and hors d’oeuvres. Next we were shown to our cabin and then had time for a relaxing stroll around this quaint village before dinner aboard. A safety talk was given by Laurent and any passenger’s questions were answered.
Guided Tour of Carcassonne

Guided Tour of Carcassonne

Le Somail to Pigasse
Following breakfast we enjoyed a fascinating two-hour morning tour of Carcassonne with Laurent, including a cafe visit. Carcassonne is the most complete medieval fortified city in existence today. It has 52 watchtowers, portcullis and extraordinary repertoire of defenses and has resisted many armies that tried to storm its walls.
We returned to Anjodi for a delightful lunch and then had some free time to wander Le Somail. The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising (for approximately 2.5 hours) along the Canal du Midi to the hamlet of Pigasse. Before dinner there we were able to take a walk or bike ride along the canal tow path.
Lunch is Served Aboard Anjodi

Lunch is Served Aboard Anjodi

Pigasse to Capestang
At 9:15 a.m. cruising commenced and even though the weather was windy, chilly and overcast, passengers bundled up and headed out on deck to take in all that the passing scenery had to offer. Lauren promptly ensured passengers stayed warm with hot beverages – the rum-spiked hot chocolate was delicious. After 2.5 hours we moored in the village of Capestang and had the opportunity to wander through the tiny streets to the town center.
After lunch aboard Anjodi, Laurent whisked passengers off on an excursion to visit an olive oil producing factory and Minerve, the ancient capital of Minervois. Minerve boasts a 12th Century Cathar fort surrounded by deep limestone gorges. Besieged by Simon de Montfort in 1215, its hill-top location affords spectacular views. Upon arriving back on Anjodi, Lauren greeted us with a Kir Royale and hors d’oeuvres. Sarah again delighted passengers with another fabulous dinner aboard.
Dinner in Beziers at La Raffiniere Restaurant

Dinner in Beziers at La Raffiniere Restaurant

Capestang to Beziers
A morning visit with Julian to Narbonne (a Roman Mediterranean capital where the Visigoth monarchs once lived) was fascinating. Although we experienced torrential rain, all the passengers enjoyed visiting the cathedral, learning about the history of Narbonne, visiting the colorful indoor market and visit to a cafe to warm up and dry out.
After devouring Sarah’s delectable cassoulet lunch aboard, passengers were able to walk or bike it off while following Anjodi as she slowly cruised towards Beziers. It was during this section of cruising that we passed through the world’s oldest canal tunnel at Malpas. Dinner at La Raffiniere Restaurant in Beziers was hosted by our charming and entertaining captain, while Laurent was our chauffeur for the evening.
Going Through the 7-Lock Flight of Fonserannes in Beziers

Going Through the 7-Lock Flight of Fonserannes in Beziers

Beziers to Portiragnes
At 9 a.m. Anjodi was first in line to descend the 7-lock flight of Fonserannes with all passengers out on deck to witness this engineering marvel. Shortly after, we crossed the aqueduct over the River Orb and continued our cruise to the town of Portiragnes. Julian escorted us on our afternoon excursion with a stop at Au Chai du Languedoc wine shop and epicerie in Beziers, followed by an informative visit and wine tasting at Domaine Perdiguier, a local chateau, famous for its 15th century frescoes. Julian’s vast knowledge of wine came into play again at the wine tasting as he imparted more wisdom about the wines of the region and the ones we were tasting.
During another amazing dinner, Lauren continued to educate passengers on the cheeses we were about to devour and why she had chosen those particular ones for our meal.
Exploring Pezenas

Exploring Pezenas

Portiragnes to Agde
A relaxed morning quickly passed while cruising towards our final destination and going through the last locks of our voyage. We were joined in the Agde Round Lock by another hotel barge, Athos, and made the decent with her – a rather exciting finale to our lock experiences. After mooring just outside the Agde Round Lock we ventured into the town of Agde to do a little exploring with our fellow passengers. Then it was back to Anjodi for another of Sarah’s delicious lunch creations.
In the afternoon Laurent drove us to visit Pezenas, a delightful village, mostly known for its associations with the French playwright Moliere, who is said to have written many plays while staying there. We returned to Anjodi for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner aboard.
Anjodi Cruising the Canal du Midi in the South of France

Anjodi Cruising the Canal du Midi in the South of France

Agde to Montpellier
After breakfast, passengers departed Anjodi before 10 a.m. and Laurent transferred them by minivan to Montpellier.
Bon Voyage!

If You Go:

 

Note: Viv & Jill were guests of European Waterways on the Canal du Midi aboard luxury canal barge Anjodi during an October 2009 visit to France.

 

 

2 Responses to European Waterways Canal Barge Anjodi Review

  1. thanks for the info I’ll definitely return

    waren 10/10/2012 at 8:15 am
  2. Pingback: Luxury Hotel Barge Anjodi Cruises the Canal du Midi in France

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