Meet at the Paris hotel chosen by the group and transfer to the rail station for the train to Béziers. Join ‘Belmond Alouette’ for a welcome reception and a cruise to the pretty village of Colombières, followed by a first gourmet dinner on board.
Visit l’Abbaye de Fontfroide, an 11th-century Cistercian monastery, lovingly restored with a well-kept garden and peaceful cloister. After lunch, cruise to Capestang.
Journey to l’Oppidum d’Enserune, an ancient hill town that is one of the region’s most important archaeological sites. Occupied from the sixth century and expanded because of its strategic location, it served as a melting pot for the many civilizations that made southern France their home. Return to ‘Belmond Alouette’ for a relaxing afternoon on the beautiful Canal du Midi, a brilliant feat of engineering and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. The Canal’s 328 locks, bridges, aqueducts and tunnels have scarcely changed since their creation in the 17th century by Pierre-Paul Riquet.
Experience the wonderful covered market in Narbonne, a lively Mediterranean city and important center of wine production. Enjoy lunch at a local bistro near the market before returning to ‘Belmond Alouette’ for a leisurely afternoon cruise to Homps.
After breakfast, visit Minerve, an old village on a limestone cliff that dominates the vineyards below. The ruined castle, once a Cathar stronghold, was besieged and captured by Simon de Montfort in 1210. Stop at Peyriac-Minervois for a wine tasting before returning to ‘Belmond Alouette’ for lunch and a cruise to the pretty town of Trèbes.
Cruise to Carcassonne, Europe’s largest medieval fortress town, to admire the intricate fortifications. The cathedral here is remarkable for its stained glass windows, fine statues and elegant transepts. Back on board the barge this evening, enjoy a memorable farewell dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to the rail station in Carcassonne for the train to Paris, where your journey ends.
'Belmond Alouette' cruises alternate routes in the early/late seasons (from Apr 1-15 and from Oct 15-28). Contact A&K for details.
Route runs in reverse on alternate weeks and may differ on selected cruise dates.