Roxana is a travel enthusiast from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family. Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find her articles on HighStyleLife and StyleByAsia.
Contrary to what most people think, France is so much more than just good old Paris. While the city of lights is truly an awe-inspiring destination that can dazzle even the most sceptical souls, it is important to realize that this country in western Europe has a lot of other remarkable sights worth seeing. I always had the desire to explore the medieval port cities of the Mediterranean and this spring I finally got the opportunity to experience the true splendour of Southern France. My husband and I wanted to try something out of the ordinary, so we decided to book a barge on the Canal du Midi and spend one week on our personal enchanting tour de France. These are some of the highlights from our trip:
The Medieval Charm of Carcassonne
After a classy champagne welcome in Narbonne and a delicious dinner on board, we were patiently waiting for the next day to explore the ancient town of Carcassonne. This fortified town truly resembles a sight from a fantasy novel, with its barbicans, defence walls and 53 towers designed to prevent attacks. There is something astonishing about touring a city with such great historical importance and learning that you are standing on the grounds where so many battles were fought.
Wine Tasting in Minervois
After the magnificent visit of one of the World Heritage Sites the former day, we were looking forward to a soothing afternoon touring the winery of Château Saint Jacques d’Albas in Minervois. Although France is globally known for its exquisite wines, this winery is certified with and A.O.C. label (appellation d’origine contrôlée) which is a guarantee of its origin and quality. Being a wine lover myself, I can truly say that this was by far the most delicious red wine I have ever tasted.
Visiting The Most Beautiful Villages of France
The narrow medieval streets, the remains of the town walls and its charming archaic bridges are probably the reason why Lagrasse is a part of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Besides the overall picturesque scenery, we had the opportunity to visit The Abbey of St. Mary of Lagrasse, dating back to the 7th century. After touring the florid village, we sat down to try some authentic French cuisine. Let’s just say that there was a lot of cheese and wine involved.
The Charming Hamlet of Le Somail
The enchanting, historical village of Le Somail is situated right on the Canal du Midi and was actually purpose-built for the canal. The sights of ducks and swans in the canal added to the magical appeal of this pleasant hamlet, while the visit to the old bookstore of Le Somail truly completed the whole tour. The day took a sudden turn and we continued our adventure to the local olive oil press and advanced to the ancient capital of Minervois. This 12th century Cathar Hilltop town, surrounded by limestone canyons is truly a spectacular sight.
Archbishop’s Palace in Narbonne
The last day before we disembarked this magnificent cruise, we have spent in touring the largest commune in Aude – Narbonne. We booked one of the enchante barge cruises and it took us to on a short excursion through the Canal de la Robine, which runs through the center of the town. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to see the imposing Archbishop’s Palace and its keep, the nearby cathedral, dating back to the 13th century and do some quick shopping at the Halles market.
On the last day, after breakfast we were dropped off at Narbonne once again and were sad to realize that our journey was over. The enchanting ambience of Southern France will forever remain in my memory and I can only dream about visiting this astonishing country once again. At least we have a few bottles of wine to comfort us when nostalgia strikes