After telling us all about their ‘Mystery afloat’ ’ voyage on a Locaboat Pénichette®, our two travel bloggers, authors of ‘Un sac sur le dos’ (‘A rucksack on your back’) give us a stage-by-stage account of the best, unmissable sights along the Canal du Midi. There’s something for everyone!
Departing from Argens:
Did you already know the Canal du Midi?
No, not at all. We’d only heard the name and seen a few postcards: big leafy trees along both banks, joining at the top to form a leafy tunnel, with barges gliding underneath along the still water. To help other people enjoy the trip as much as we did, we’ve chosen a few top favourites that we fell in love with along the part of the Canal du Midi that we explored, from Argens to the Malpas Tunnel: three places where we moored our boat for the night.
Stage 1: Le Somail
How did your first night go?
Le Somail was our first stopover after we left Argens – and what a brilliant surprise! It had a really easy going, southern atmosphere, with its light-coloured stone houses and bridge, its leafy house-fronts and terraces along the canal…
During this first stopover you found a clue that led you to an unusual place.
Our first clue was on the window of the tourist office. It suggested going to look for a basketful of food at ‘a really unusual grocery shop’ the next day. It wasn’t difficult to track it down. ‘Tamata’, the grocery barge, is a floating Aladdin’s cave that’s a feast for the eyes (and later for your taste buds!) There was a basket waiting there for us, filled with nice things to eat plus a scrap of brown paper showing our next clue. You really must visit the shop if you pass through Le Somail. As well as a great range of local produce you’ll find a really warm welcome.
You also visited a former bookshop…
‘Le Trouve Tout du Livre’ is a former bookshop that’s a world apart. It’s a cross between a curiosity shop, a second-hand bookshop and Beauty and the Beast’s library!
That was a special day for you, wasn’t it?
Yes, it was our wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we had dinner in a quite eccentric little restaurant called ‘L’Ô à la bouche’. It’s a very difficult place to describe. The decor ranges from science fiction figures to reproductions of 1960s American petrol pumps. We had a very good meal there.
Stage 2: Capestang
For your second overnight stay, you stopped in Capestang…
A quick glance at its tourist attractions, like the collegiate church of Saint-Etienne and the Archbishop’s castle, is enough to tell you that this town is packed with history! It’s worth making a detour to the collegiate church for its rich history of revivals and reconstructions, along with its architecture and the pleasure of climbing its spiral staircase to admire the countryside views from the top. Our most beautiful memory is the sunlight shining through the stained glass windows and illuminating the stonework of the church.
Stage 3: The Malpas Tunnel and its hermit
How did your passage through the Malpas Tunnel go?
This was our last straight stretch. The tunnel was much narrower than we’d expected. According to legend, you have to pass through the tunnel with a basket of food for the hermit to avoid being cursed, so we didn’t arrive empty-handed. The hermit was treated to the basket we’d been given by the ‘Tamata’ grocery barge.
Did you enjoy your adventure?
It was a very good first experience and a really enjoyable ‘Mystery afloat’ journey with Locaboat . Following the clues gave a purpose to our trip, to find out information about the various places we passed through and stopped at: places that fed the spirit, like the collegiate church, or the body in the case of the grocery barge.
We’d like to thank Locaboat for this really fun experience as well as the tourist offices at Capestang and Le Somail for joining in the game!