Bateau sur le canal du Midi - VNF, Sylvain Cambon

Exploring the Canal du Midi from the water : boating and water-based activities

Tourism is the canal's main activity today, and a boat trip on the canal is a unique and highly enjoyable experience. Choose a boat trip for a few hours or over several days, for a complete change of scenery guaranteed. This timeless moment on the water is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Hire a boat without a boating permit, for a bucolic sightseeing experience

What better a way to explore the Canal du Midi, than from the water? To make the most of this exceptional heritage, beautiful scenery, to explore charming villages and taste the fascinating and varied specialities of south-west France, you can hire a boat or a small barge from one of the many boat hire companies along the Canal du Midi.  

Several types of boat are available, to accommodate between 2 and 12 people.

These boats do not require a boating permit. Before you set off, the boat hire company will show you how to drive the boat. It is not particularly difficult, but remember to be careful as you are sailing along the canal. You will respect the maximum speed of 8 km/hr and sail at an average speed of 6 km/hr. 

To plan your boating trip along the Canal du Midi, it is important that you are aware of the safety rules to respect, to know the basics of sailing, how to cross the locks and how to moor your boat.

Passage d'écluse à Herminis - VNF, Sylvain Cambon

Passage d'écluse à Herminis - VNF, Sylvain Cambon

Looking to hire a boat or barge on the Canal du Midi?

A few hours, a week or longer, what duration will you choose for your escapade on the Canal du Midi?

Choose the boat trip that suits you! The duration of the boat trips along the Canal du Midi depends on the routes and the choice of visits along the way. You can choose a boat trip over a week, a weekend, four days... If you're not pressed for time, why not embark on a two-week cruise?

You could also opt for a return boat trip from the boat hire pontoon, or sail from one location to another, using the same boat hire company.

Some boat hire companies also have electric boats that can be hired by the hour. An ideal experience to explore the canal easily, without passing through the locks. 

The main boat hire companies are in Port-Lauragais, Negra, Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, Argens, Lattes and at Port du Somail.

How much does a boat trip on the Canal du Midi cost?

The price of your boat trip depends on your chosen route and boat. We invite you to browse the list of boat hire companies and cruise companies

Canal cruises

Boat trip for a few hours or a full day

An organised trip on a canal barge or sightseeing boat is also a great way to explore the Canal du Midi. These cruises use boats with large capacity, some of which also offer on-board catering services.

Choose from a 1.5 hour, 2 hour or a full day cruise, departing from Sète, Béziers, Carcassonne, Castelnaudary and Toulouse. 

Hotel barges, to stay a night or longer on the Canal du Midi

If you are looking for a unique experience on the Canal du Midi, you could choose to stay on a hotel barge. 

These barges accommodate small groups of passengers. Without having to think about sailing, you can devote all your time to admiring the scenery all around you from the water.

Depending on what you're looking for, you can choose a half-board or full-board package.

Activities on the water:
a different way to explore the Canal du Midi

There are so many water-based activities to choose from on the Canal du Midi, and they offer an excellent alternative to explore all or a part of this unique waterway network.

Canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and rowing are just some of the options available. However, when you reach a lock, you'll need to get out of the water and carry your canoe or board along the towpath to go around the lock. These activities are not authorised inside the locks because they are too lightweight and not stable enough to withstand the moving waters inside the lock chambers.

Safety rules for water-based activities

You must remain visible, and avoid using the middle section of the navigation channel so that motorised boats can overtake you in complete safety.

The stopover towns

While you're exploring the canal by boat, don't hesitate to stop off at the stopover towns. There is always plenty to see and do, with something for everyone!