Please note. These itineraries are indicative only. The barge operators will always attempt to tailor a cruise
to the interests and wishes of the guests on board. There will always be the opportunity to walk or cycle
along the towpath, to stroll round local villages, to fish, to play petanque, or just to lie back and do nothing!
Equally, they can always arrange wine tastings at selected local vineyards, or excursions to other
places of interest.
Montauban to Agen (or vice versa)
Cruise route map
(Click to enlarge)
Toulouse – Lacourt St. Pierre – Montech
We meet around 3 pm, often in Toulouse, and we travel by car to the Saint Louis. We pass through Granade and Grisolles on the way, and admire the central market square in both villages. On arrival at Saint Louis’ home port, you are greeted with a champagne reception on board. After unpacking, the options include a visit to the local Artisan Distillerie (making renowned aqua vita and liqueurs from local fruits), or a stroll around the charming town of Montech, or maybe a game of pétanque (boules) beside the boat.
Sunday – Montauban – Castelsarrasin
After breakfast, we take the car for an excursion around Montauban, city of art and culture. We see statues by local artist Bourdelle, we explore cobbled streets leading to the gorgeous central square and we admire the 13th century Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) with its superb garrison building. We return to the boat, and have lunch under-way as we head to Montech, passing through one lock before joining the main Canal de Garonne. At Montech, we will usually pass down the extraordinary Montech Water Slope, an engineering marvel that is unique in the world. After cruising for the afternoon, we moor in the beautiful port of Castelsarrasin.
Pigeon lofts of south-west france
We head off down the canal after breakfast, and after descending four locks we cross over the River Tarn by means of an amazing brick-built aqueduct, 30 metres over the river. A few more locks and we arrive in the port of Moissac. After lunch, you are taken to one of the highlights of the trip – Moissac Abbey with its Cloisters that are said to be the finest in the world, and the 13th century church which contains a 10th century organ.
In addition, Saint Louis can leave the canal at Moissac, for a short cruise on the River Tarn and the River Garonne. This option is unique among hotel barges in France.
Pommevic – Auvillar
We have breakfast on deck, while passing through the swing-bridge of Moissac emerging into lovely countryside, with rolling hills to the right and the River Garonne to the left. In time for lunch we moor at the peaceful port of Pommevic – we usually expect to be the only boat in the port. During the morning we could pass numerous pilgrims making their way on Christendom’s third most important pilgrimage route, to the Spanish burial site of Saint James at Santiago di Compostella, which is still 1200 km away at this point. In the afternoon, we go in the car to nearby Auvillar, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. This village has a history in which the manufacture and export of china and quills (for writing) were of major importance – as so often we see the influence that the River Garonne had as a trade artery in the world of commerce of yesteryear.
Lamagistere – Donzac – Dunes
We head off in the morning, having breakfast on the deck under the plane trees. We pass through Valence, and moor for lunch at Lamagistere, surrounded by nothing but views and peace. In the afternoon, we go to nearby Donzac, where there is an amazing museum dedicated to the ancient trades of this corner of France – this is a world class display, put together with professionalism and humour. Later, we visit the ancient Bastide village of Dunes, with lovely half-timbered houses and historical wall-plaques.
Clermont Soubiran – Agen
In the morning, we go in the car to nearby Clermont-Soubiran, where we have views over the whole Valley of the Garonne, and where a walk around the outside of the chateau never fails to impress. We then return to the boat and cruise down into the provincial city of Agen, where we moor beside well-tended lawns under the houses of some of the city’s big merchants. If time permits, we visit the Museum of Fine Arts, right in the middle of old Agen, which has an amazing collection that includes a number of Goyas, and a fine Egyptian and Levant collection.
After a leisurely breakfast on the Saint Louis, you are taken by car back to your connection in Toulouse (or elsewhere), passing through deep rural countryside with fruit orchards, sunflowers and vineyards.
Other possible visits include:
- A wine tasting at a Fronton vineyard – one of south west France’s hidden secrets.
- The Abbey de Belleperche, just beside the mighty River Garonne.
- A genuine Roman bridge – hidden away and not part of any tourist route.
- The Bastide town of Lauzerte – full of history and surprises.
- The 11th century church at Lachappelle – modified in a baroque style and unique in France.
- A working goat farm, where you can see a commercial herd of goats being milked, and the milk made into cheese.
- A museum to Lamothe-Cadillac, in the house of his birth – this is the man who founded Detroit and whose name and coat of arms appears on many cars today!
- A visit to an extraordinary winery in Cotes de Brulhois, that has been in the same family for 300 years and where innovative wines from the early 1700’s are once again being produced.
Agen to Meilhan sur Garonne (Bordeaux) or vice versa
Cruise route map
(Click to enlarge)
Toulouse – Agen – Boë
The Captain of the Saint Louis meets us in Toulouse at 3.00 p.m. at our pre-arranged meeting place, and we are driven to Boë which is just on the outskirts of Agen.
We opt to take the scenic route for the drive, which takes us through gorgeous countryside and the towns of Castelsarrasin and Moissac. On arrival at the boat we settle in to our comfortable cabins, then after a short safety briefing there is a champagne reception followed by the first of many sumptuous dinners.
Boë – Serignac
After breakfast, we cruise through the centre of the pretty city of Agen. On leaving the city, we pass over the most remarkable aqueduct which takes us over the River Garonne – this is France’s longest masonry aqueduct.
We then descend a chain of four locks to arrive at a beautiful overgrown stretch of the canal which is nicknamed the “Amazon”. At the end of our day’s cruise we moor in the pretty port of Serignac-sur-Garonne. In the afternoon we are taken on an excursion to three fabulous mediaeval villages called Sainte Colombe, Bruch, and Clermont Dessous – the last village having a superb view across the Garonne valley. We arrive back at the port in time to have a stroll through the village of Serignac before aperitifs and dinner.
Serignac – Buzet – Nerac
In the morning we cruise through beautiful unspoiled countryside before arriving at the delightful port of Buzet-sur-Baïse.
After lunch, we are taken on an excursion to the beautiful town of Nérac on the River Baïse, where we visit the Château of King Henry IV and the old mediaeval quarter of the town with its Roman bridge. Later, we are taken on a fabulous visit to an Armagnac producer, based in an old Benedictine monastery; here we see the old chapel, where the Armagnac is aged, and we learn of the rich history of this property and the family that looks after it.
Buzet – Villeton
After breakfast, we are taken on a visit to a barrel-makers, where the owners of the works have set up a viewing platform over the shop floor, and we are treated to an almost ballet-like performance of highly organised craftsmen using very high technology and traditional skills. This private visit is memorable, not least because of the charm and dedication to his craft of the owner who takes us round. On our way back to the boat we call in on the famous Buzet wine producing cooperative. We have lunch on the sun-deck as we cruise down the canal, through the port of Damazan and under shady avenues of plane trees, to arrive at our port of Le Mas d’Agenais. We stop at the astounding gem stone and fossil museum at La Falotte, where the owner explains the categories of his 7,000 exhibits in a fascinating way. We then cruise further down the canal and moor for the night in the small country port of Villeton.
Villeton to Caumont-sur-Garonne
In the morning we cruise further down the canal to Le Mas d’Agenais. Here the barge is moored, and the car is waiting for us to take us for a visit up to the town which is of Roman origin, and where we can see significent parts of the original Roman wall. We admire the wooden market hall which was built in 1616, and we visit the church in which there is an original Rembrandt. Later, we cruise further down the canal to arrive at the pretty “halte” of Caumont sur Garonne. From there, we are taken by car to a presentation called “Gens de Garonne (the People of Garonne) which in a remarkable and unique way tells the story of the people living on the side of the Garonne River.
Caumont to Meilhan sur Garonne
In the morning we head down the canal, cruising once again through superb countryside and under a canopy of trees. We arrive at our destination, Meilhan sur Garonne.
In the afternoon we are taken by car to Castets en Dorthe, where the canal flows back into the River Garonne. We marvel at the flood marks on the specially heightened lock house, and we admire the Chateau that overlooks the village. From there we go to Langon, where we see a phenomonen of an entirely different era. This is the Airbus loading yard where massive parts of the new A380 aircraft are collected at the end of their sea journey, before embarking on their land journey to Toulouse for final assembly. We then take a short car journey to Chateau Roquetaillade, which has been in the same family for the last seven hundred years. The guided tour reveals some astonishing facts about this outstanding historical masterpiece.
After a leisurely breakfast our bags are loaded into the vehicle, we make our fond goodbyes to the crew, and we are taken back to Toulouse for our onward journey.
Some other visits available as options:-
- The mediaeval bastide town of Vianne, with its protective fortified wall
- The Roman bridge and the fortified mill at Barbaste
- The superb Château at Cazeneuve
- The wine centre of Duras, together with Château Duras
- The Musée des Beaux Arts at Agen, home to a number of Goyas
- The cork museum at Mézin
- The Lot Valley, with pretty towns such as Clairac
TO CONTACT US
Phone: +33 561 59 20 07, Fax: +33 561 59 23 54
Phone (Toll-Free from USA + Canada): 1-800-688-0245
The Barge Cruise Company Ltd, 2 Allée de Castelnouvel, 31490 Léguevin