11 things not to miss along the Canal du Midi this summer

The summer months herald the busiest season for events on the Canal du Midi. Just about every town and village, small or large, near or far from the beaten towpath, has something to celebrate in the summer. Here’s our pick of 11 must-see events to catch while you enjoy your cruise on the Canal du Midi this summer.

 

All that jazz
ensemble playing night concert on the stageFour of the very best contemporary jazz musicians play at dinner-concerts in the historic setting of one of the largest wine estates in the Canal du Midi area. Listen to the likes of Jamie Cullum or Diana Krall as you dine under the stars among the vineyards. Enjoy a glass of Champagne with the jazz stars after the concert.

When: 28-31 July

Where: Château L’Hospitalet, Narbonne

Price: €170

More information: http://www.chateau-hospitalet.com/fr/vos-evenements-au-chateau-l-hospitalet/festival-de-jazz/

A fête of fish

Bouillabaisse a typical French dishOver the course of three days, fishing communities pay homage to St Peter, the patron saint of fishermen and the Mediterranean. Valras Plage holds some of biggest and brightest celebrations, and festivities include processions on land and water, live entertainment, tasting of local cuisine including the famous cuttlefish and olive stew (prepared by fishermen) and a firework display on the Saturday.

When: 26-28 June

Where: Valras Plage

Price: free entry

More information: http://www.ville-valrasplage.fr/index.php/fr/

Around the world in folk music

Aix en Othe musical festivalTake a round-the-world trip in folk music at the Handpan World Music Festival. Concerts run every evening between 5pm and 0.30am. Yoga classes and massages also make up an essential part of this summer event on the Canal du Midi. And to bring some real colour to your barge holiday don’t miss the giant Holy Powder Party, Saturday 18 June 5-6pm.

When: 17-19 June

Where: Camping Parc Bellevue, Valras Plage near Beziers

Price: €12 1-day pass; €30 3-day pass

More information: http://www.festivalhandpan.com/

Art by night

Dance couple dancing ballroom dancing to a live band soundsAll the arts come together for an evening’s celebration of culture at venues throughout the town. View paintings, watch dance and film, admire sculptures and listen to live music performances. You can buy a piece (or 2) to take home at the art market. Food and refreshments available.

When: 26 July 6pm to 1am

Where: Saint Chinian

Price: free entry

More information: http://www.abstrackt-particule.com/

Celebrating music and voice

Abbaye de Caunes-MinervoisThe small medieval village of Caunes hosts a selection of Baroque concerts and opera recitals in its atmospheric 8th century abbey. Optional food tastings and dinners with the performers come before and after concerts.

When: 8 July to 5 August

Where: Caunes

Price: from €18

More information: http://www.lesvendredisdecaunes.fr/

European recitals

Abbaye de fontfroideThe Jordi Savall Music Festival celebrates the best of European poetry and music with musicians from all over the continent from Portugal to the Balkans. The 4-day event closes with a musical homage to probably the most famous writers in Europe, Cervantes and Shakespeare, on the 400th anniversary of their death.

When: 15-19 July

Where: Abbaye de Fontfroide, Narbonne

Price: early evening concerts cost €16, late evening performances €45

More information: http://www.fontfroide.com/festival-jordi-savall/

On the banks of the Aude

Pont pieton Homps (Canal du Midi)Moor up on either side of the River Aude in the town of Homps and join in the fun at the Canal Festival where wine and food tasting, live music, children’s fun, circus tricks and street theatre offer an evening’s entertainment.

When: 10 August from 5-11pm

Where: Homps

Price: free entry

More information: http://www.ccrlcm.fr/

Setting the sky on fire – Bastille Day

Carcassonne fireworksEvery year, the 600-metre façade of Carcassonne’s medieval quarter comes ablaze with lights (in patriotic red, white and blue) and hundreds of fireworks. The fiery spectacle is best viewed from the banks of the River Aude or on one of the bridges. Grab your spot early (afternoon is best) to secure a front row seat.

When: 14 July at 10.30pm

Where: Carcassonne

Price: free

More information: http://www.tourism-carcassonne.co.uk/prepare/what-do-carcassonne/highlights-year

Walk and dine

Southern France, Canal de Midi at the village of Capestang. Focused at the sign with the name of the canal.Take a short guided tour of the history of the Canal du Midi in the pretty port of Capestang. Then after your half-hour stroll, sample the very best of local wine and produce.

When: every Tuesday and Thursday at 5.30pm June-Sept

Where: Capestang Port

Price: free

More information: Capestang Tourist Office, Quai Elie Amouroux. Tel: +33 4 67 378 529

When it’s all on stage

An empty Stage Before the Concert with floodlight and musical instrumentsIn 10 short years, the Festival of Carcassonne of music (classical, rock, pop, hip hop, opera…), theatre and dance has become one of the biggest events in France and a definite must-see if you’re on holiday along the Canal du Midi. Performances take place on stages at different venues around the town. Star performances couldn’t be more varied and this year include Pharrell Williams, the Spanish National Ballet, Marianne Faithfull, the Scorpions and La Bohème.

When: 4 July to 1 August

Where: Carcassonne

Price: 2-day pass from €60; 3-day pass from €80

More information: http://festivaldecarcassonne.fr/fr/accueil

Wine and dine
Professional winemaker smelling a glass of white wine in his traditional cellar surrounded by wooden barrelsThe annual Fête du Cru brings together the best of Canal du Midi wines in a day’s celebration of the area’s AOC labels. The day’s events start at 10am with a church service and parade through the village before the serious wine tasting begins. Sample the best vin and local produce on the 60+ stalls and enjoy the live music and entertainment. The kids area with face paints and games opens in the afternoon.

When: 17 July

Where: Saint Chinian

Price: free entry

More information: http://www.saint-chinian.pro/fete-du-cru,fr,8,89.cfm

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