A week of fun for everyone: horseback riding, swimming in the Med, canalside cycling, learning petanque with our professional petanque-playing guide Matt(!!), or challenge Captain Julian to a tennis match! Throw in a fantastic personal chef who is open to your family’s dietary preferences, add glorious Canal du Midi cruising on the luxurious Athos, and call it a perfect Family Barge Boat Holiday.
Sunday 4pm pick up at designated point in Beziers
Your family will be met by ATHOS Captain and Manager. In the comfort of ATHOS’ private air-conditioned Chrysler minivans, you will be chauffeured to where the ATHOS awaits you at her moorings. You will be treated to a full-crew Welcome Aboard, including an introduction to the Ship’s Dog, Jill! Toasting with either Champagne or soft drinks, the Chef will offer a selection of Mediterranean canapés fit for kids and adults alike.
Once you are settled into your cabin, there may still be time for a quick bicycle ride alongside the canal. The Athos collection of children’s and adult bicycles & helmets are at your disposal throughout the week.
You will be invited to a 4-course dinner, prepared by our highly acclaimed Chef. Athos will have asked in advance for details about your family’s likes and dislikes so that the crew can present you with meals that meet the whole family’s approval! Discuss with the Chef about whether you’d like to have a few adults-only evening meals, or whether your gourmet experience will be a Family Dinner every evening.
Monday ARGELIERS to LA CROISADE
While coffee is available at any time from the bar, continental-style breakfast is served, at your leisure, beginning at 8:30am. A breakfast buffet offers a selection to please everyone: cereals, juices, yogurts, cold meats and cheese, and of course fresh pastries and bread from the local boulangerie! Your guide suggests an excursion to the famous Medieval double-walled city of Carcassonne where he will includes the legendary tales of Dame Carcas, and a visit to the tombstone of Simon de Montfort. She will also make sure that there is still time to browse the shops!
The Captain is getting ATHOS underway for an afternoon’s cruise to La Croisade, and Chef serves up another gourmet meal while the whole family relaxes on the sunny deck.
If exercise and a swim are in order, cycling enthusiasts might like to hop off with bicycles. Alternatively, your guide proposes a quick drive to the swimming hole at the Cesse River under the 17thC Canal Bridge. Ready for a refreshing glass of wine or a cold drink? Another delicious meal has been prepared. The on board hostess asks if everyone would like to eat al fresco, under the shade of the Plain Trees?
Tuesday LA CROISADE to CAPESTANG
After breakfast, your guide suggests a morning outing to the local equestrian centre. Along with the sheep, goats & chickens, la Fount del Bosc has a collection of very well-kept, well-educated poneys and horses. Your guide suggests a morning trail-ride en famille. On the way back, your guide stops at Bize Minervois, where the locals swim in the river – a refreshing cool-down at the end of an enjoyable hack.
Returning to Athos for a well-earned lunch on the Athos deck, Captain Julian starts the engines, and the Athos moves off. As Athos moors for evening, the crew suggests a quick game of Petanque (or French boules). The vineyards surrounding are sprawling and the view over Capestang towards the floodlit St Etienne collegiale is a pleasant setting for an outdoor dinner.
Wednesday CAPESTANG – FONSERANNES
This morning your guide invites enthusiastic swimmers and paddlers on an excursion into the Cevennes mountains, where large, wide kayaks float down the River Orb! After the scenic drive into the hills, everyone is handed a helmet and lifejacket, then set off in kayaking groups to navigate the mostly-shallow riverbed. Chef has packed a superb picnic lunch to be served by crew who have accompanied you on the adventure. For those more enthusiastic about relaxing than kayaking, Julian invites you to stay on board for a leisurely cruise, lunch on deck, and a quiet time under the parasol. When kayakers return to Athos, cruising continues as far as the Fonserannes.
This evening’s mooring is the breath-taking viewpoint at the Fonserannes. Perhaps a little cycle ride down to the famous staircase locks and the Canal Bridge will work up your appetite for the Chef’s creations this evening?
Thursday FONSERANNES to PORTIRAGNE
Following breakfast, your guide invites you on a side-trip to the weekly morning market in Narbonne? Even for non-shoppers, Narbonne offers bustling entertainment on a Thursday morning. Explore an excavated portion of the original Roman road, the Via Domitia, or, browse through the well-compiled Roman Museum and the beauty of St. Juste Cathedral. Or, simply take a moment to blend into the scene by sitting and relaxing in one of the many cafés. At 12 o’clock, your guide leads you to one of the most popular lunch spots at the brasserie Chez Bebelle in the covered food market. It is a busy, atmospheric and in-demand spot run by ex-rugby player Gilles Bebelle. The lunch is a casual affair, and the entertainment is Bebelle himself who calls out orders between the butchers’ stall and his grill. Heads up – the cuts fly!
On your return, Captain Julian and his deck hand are busy getting ATHOS underway. This 17thC feat of engineering, the Neuf Ecluses (or staircase locks), is sure to impress! ATHOS crew expertly tie her up in each lock, and wait for the gates to close safely behind her before the water levels empty out and allow her to pass one locks into the next. But it’s not over yet! Coming up next is the 18thC Canal Bridge that will carry the ATHOS over the Orb River.
The paved towpath and the many locks leading to this village make it an ideal afternoon for walking or cycling alongside the ATHOS.
When we arrive at the evening’s mooring just outside the small village of Portiragnes, your guide invites swimmers for a quick trip to the white sand beach (either by bicycle or car, as it’s only 1.5km away!) and a swim in the Mediterranean. Dinner on board.
Friday PORTIRAGNES to MARSEILLAN
Athos will get underway just after breakfast. Some active family members may like to take the bicycles back to the beach for a quick swim, and then return to re-board the Athos as she makes her way under the Portiragnes bridge.
A spectacular seafood lunch arrives as you enter the open-waters of the Etang de Thau. The Etang hosts Europe’s largest Mussel and Oyster Park. The crew’s favourite swimming pool is the Etang! Join them and jump in to cool off!
As ATHOS comes to moor in the port at Marseillan, you will notice the enclosure of the Noilly Prat Vermouth distillery. End a perfect day with a walking visit of the village, a romp around the seaside play-park which is a stone’s throw from Athos’ mooring, or a leisurely cycle ride down the promenade. Alternatively, ask your guide to book you Tennis courts on the clay courts here. Captain Julian and guide Matt are both keen players and there might be a family vs crew tournament to be had?
Chef’s efforts are sure to make this evening worth remembering! Captain Julian will join your party for your final dinner on board this evening. During the evening, he will also invite the crew, including Jill, to make a farewell toast with you.
After breakfast, everyone waves goodbye to Jill and the Crew, who have looked after your every need throughout the week. The minivans will now depart to the appointed destination in Beziers.
Athos on Etang de Thau