Travelers Warm Up to European Waterways’ Springtime 2013 Hotel Barge Cruises in Southern France
Canal du Midi Cruises on “Enchanté” Among Popular Cruises, With Remodeled Dining Room Making Barge More Luxurious Than Ever
A recent refurbishing of Enchanté’s spacious dining room to include a new table and deck set brings to this barge “a new level of luxury and comfort on the famed Canal du Midi,” according to Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways.
“Enchanté has consistently attracted strong bookings, especially in the Spring, as guests seek to shake off the chill of winter and escape the fast-paced city to drift slowly down a tree-lined canal and watch nature take its course,” said Banks. “Springtime is one of the sunnier periods of the year for the historic region, bringing the countryside to life with almond blossoms and lush green hills.”
European Waterways is preparing its barge brochure for the 2013 cruising season, highlighting new amenities and features, while building upon last year’s program of upgrades. With savvy travelers already booking their trips for next year, “it’s looking like 2013 will be another great year for European Waterways, as hotel barge cruising continues to grow in popularity,”
An Enchanting Excursion in Le Midi
Locally known as Le Midi, this region of Southern France is home to lush plains, rich mountains and beautiful coasts, making it one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. As the kiss of Spring greets the wild flowers that line the Canal du Midi, what better way to see the poppies and mimosas bloom than by drifting along the 300-year old canal on one of European Waterways’ most luxurious barges, the Enchanté.
Guests will see the most complete medieval fortified city in existence today during a tour of Carcassonne, where 52 watchtowers still stand from centuries ago. Wine lovers will delight their palates during a tasting at Chateau Saint Jacques d’Albas in the Minervois, one of the few regions to receive the prestigious French mark of approval for wines known as A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Controlée – certification of origin); while foodies can satisfy their taste for the local specialties at Narbonne’s colorful indoor market. Here, they will find delectable goods ranging from fresh produce, including plump figs and sweet honey, to large barrels of olives and mounds of shellfish. Other highlights include a visit to a traditional ‘Oulibo’ or olive press to sample the famous Lucques olive oil, as well as a trip to Lagrasse with its 8th century abbey.
The Feel of Home with a Taste of Luxury
The Enchanté is tastefully furnished in exotic hardwoods with a contemporary twist, while its recently remodelled dining room includes high-quality fixtures like a stylish new glass dining table. The state of the art, double-decker hotel-barge provides plush accommodations for up to 8 guests and houses the largest cabins of any hotel barge on the Midi, offering 4 equal en-suite twin or double suites, each with beautifully fashioned bathrooms.
Specially designed by Roger and Louisa Gronow, who boast 25 years of luxury barging experience and a love of Southern France, the Enchanté exudes luxury and comfort in a relaxing atmosphere. Guests can watch its skilled chef at work via the demonstration galley, and even join in to help him prepare meals, or unwind after the day’s excursion on the open sun deck.
“With majestic views of the Pyrenees Mountains, a cruise on the Canal du Midi is second to none,” said Banks. “Spring departures are scheduled throughout March, April and May, providing numerous opportunities for vacationers to book their getaway. The area is served by excellent regional airports and airlines, including Air France and British Airways, and our hotel barges offer every guest the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with this beautiful part of France.”
Banks added: “Let others have Paris in the Spring, but for me it’s the South of France! From the tree-lined Canal du Midi and the budding flowers along the shoreline and the hills, to the warm weather that greets you each day, the South of France remains one of the best areas to experience the arrival of Spring.”
About European Waterways
The hotel barging experience is different from large vessel river cruising. It offers a slower paced, “gentle voyage of discovery” along the more intimate canals and waterways of Europe, allowing a small number of guests to become more fully immersed in the culture, history and gastronomy of the region. European Waterways is Europe’s largest all-inclusive luxury hotel barging company, offering vacations in nine countries and carrying over 2,000 passengers a year. Founded nearly 40 years ago, they design, build, own and operate a private fleet of luxury barges with cruises in France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Pioneers in hotel barging, they were the first company to operate a hotel barge on the Upper Nivernais in Burgundy, and the “real” Loire Valley. They are also the only cruise company offering barge cruises in Scotland and in the Venetian lagoon and River Po valley.