Who has never dreamed of taking the helm of a boat, like a captain on the high seas? The canal du Midi gives you the chance to set sail on an adventure with family or friends. There are various different packages available, maybe you fancy a weekend, a week or longer... Cruising along the canal is taking a nomadic break from it all. You move to the gentle rhythm of the canal boat and the locks.
You get up at sunrise and go to bed at sunset, while making the most of all the comfort of your floating home. Let yourself drift away with the beautiful landscapes. Appreciate the tranquillity when you moor up as the sun starts to set. You could, perhaps, enjoy a glass of chilled white or rose wine on the deck, or try some local produce, simply yet inventively prepared, in one of the restaurants by the side of the canal.
Enjoy the cruise
Often with mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety, the temporary captains and crew are quickly reassured by the rental companies, who spend a good twenty minutes explaining how to handle the boat and teaching how to make a proper sailor's knot. Everyone quickly feels comfortable with the handling of the boat, which does not require a licence.
And so, you're off, for three days, a week or even longer, on your canal trip, aboard a really comfortable boat, whatever its size. Family life is spent in the salon, where you can eat and play games. The bedrooms are at either end of the boat, the prow (at the front) and the stern (at the back), perfect for different bedtimes.
But life on board your canal boat, is about the deck. That's where you steer, admire the countryside, sunbathe, or enjoy an aperitif as you watch the sunset. The canal is a calm place but also where you get to meet other pleasure cruisers from around the world, producers, guides, and tradespeople who are happy to share their region, history and produce with you.
Advice for sailors
- Don't go faster than 8 km/h, so as to not damage the banks, and don't attach your ropes to the plane trees, to stop the spread of canker stain, a fungus attacking the trees
- Sail in the centre of the canal and bear right when you meet another boat.
- Prepare your cruise well before you set off, familiarising yourself with the ports and services along the canal. Consider how much water and electricity you need, not all ports offer the same services
- Reserve your boat on line. Different level packages are offered by the companies, ranging from three to eleven days. Budget between 200 euros (two people for a weekend) and 1,500 euros (6 to 8 people for a weekend).
- Take or hire bikes to be able to discover the rich heritage, explore the countryside and meet the locals in the land of Oc.
- Remember to take binoculars to make the most of the views from the canal and to observe animals. Also, take one or more pairs of gloves to manoeuvre the locks and to avoid getting blisters from the ropes.
- Please note, the canal is open for sailing from mid-March until the end of October.
The key word is care, as you approach a lock. The maximum speed limit is 3 km/h and you must make sure that the traffic light is green, just like on the road. Two sailors leave the boat, one on either bank, and two others throw them the ropes so that the boat remains stable while the lock fills. When the water has risen to the same level as the next stage of the canal, you can start your engine. You've done it!
Find out more about the locks
A different sort of boat trip
- For 1 hour or a half-day? Hire an electric boat at Le Somail or the port lauragais
- Just for 1 night? with Navicanal
- Easy sailing? Choose a hotel canal boat
- In a canoe? Yes, you can! However, you are not allowed to go through the locks, so you need to get out of the water before the lock and get back in after.