Cruise with unique style along the Canal du Midi
Mirage is a beautifully renovated boutique barge cruising the Canal du Midi and offering luxury cruises for up to 6 guests. Spacious and distinctive with traditional round port-hole windows and fascinating aviator-themed decor, she has leather sofas, hardwood furniture and a dining table that once graced the Atlantic ocean liner ‘Olympia’. Musicians will appreciate the piano and bass guitar.
On her large teak deck there is a canopy, heated Jacuzzi spa and sun loungers for watching the beautiful scenery of the Midi glide by.
Style: The 'nature' of the hotel barge. Outline subjective guidance as to the quality or comfort level that might be expected on board.
Price Band: Per person. Outline guidance only, on a relative or comparative basis. The bands do not represent accurate low or high season rates.
Hotel Barge Mirage :: Key Features
- Premier class (3*)
- Canal du Midi, southern France
- Charter and cabin bookings, 6 nights, or 3 nights, April to October
- 6 guests / 3 double cabins
- Individually controlled air conditioning and heating
- Full board, lunches in local restaurants, dinners on board
- Self-catering, charter-only, cook-in or eat-out
- Decor reminiscent of a 1930s Aviators’ lounge
- 6 all-terrain bicycles
- Wifi (limited in some places)
- Air-conditioned minibus for transfers and excursions
Hotel Barge Mirage: Cruise Highlights
- Excursion to Narbonne, the ancient regional capital, a tour and lunch out at a fine local restaurant beside its lively market
- Discover Carcassonne’s fairytale medieval castle, the largest in Europe
- Visit Mirepoix, a medieval town in the foothills of the Pyrenees
- Savour local dishes and the delicious wines of Languedoc-Roussillon
- Excellent tow-path for walking and cycling, and sunny deck for pure relaxation
Mirage owners Mimi and Manon Chauvin, along with their dog Lola, are your gracious hosts for an unforgettable cruise aboard their authentic 1950s French barge. Mimi retired from the French Air Force, refurbished Mirage in 2015, creating the elegant, luxury hotel barge you can enjoy today. Manon is Mimi’s daughter, now acting as hostess and proudly carrying on the family tradition.
“Our first barge cruising experience was a 6 night/7 day cruise on board the barge Mirage down the Canal du Midi with Pascal and Mimi. What a truly awesome experience, every day had a wow factor. Pascal and Mimi carefully planned the cruise so that each day we went to a different attraction with plenty of time to enjoy the visit, have lunch and get an hour or cruising on the canal in. They altered the daily plan to suit the weather for us. We visited gardens, a local market, castles etc., everything we wanted to see. Nothing was done in a rush. They chose some excellent local restaurants for lunches. The meals on board the barge were very nice, all prepared by Mimi and Manu. Pascal chose some very nice local wines to compliment the meals. The cabins on board are well appointed and there is plenty of room. The top deck of the barge is perfect to laze on and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the canal. AND a must is to have a flight with Pascal in his WW1 Biplane, truly a wonderful exciting experience – and you get to fly with a jet pilot! We will be planning another cruise with Pascal and Mimi in the future. Truly this was one of our best travel experiences.”
Adrian & Dianne, 2016
“Bonjour Pascal et Mimi, once again, thank you both for a most memorable and enjoyable cruise, which far exceeded our expectations. Kathryn, Gus & Ros and Brendan & Meredith wish to be remembered to you, and also did not stop raving about the cruise.”
Eric, August 2015
6 nights’ accommodation; transfers to and from the pick-up point; full board but with all lunches taken in a local restaurant along the way; all excursion fees, tour guide and associated transport.
Air fares to and within France; travel, medical and cancellation insurance; crew gratuities (5-10% suggested).
Hotel Barge Mirage: Cruises along the Canal du Midi
Two to six guests can enjoy these cruises aboard Mirage:
- Classic Gourmet Languedoc Cruise – 6 nights, Carcassonne to Castelnaudary
- Smart Cruise – 3 nights, Carcassonne to Bram
Private charter only, for 2-6 passengers..
Hotel Barge Mirage: Classic Gourmet Languedoc Cruise – 6 nights, Carcassonne to Castelnaudary, Canal du Midi
Day 1 Sunday – Arrival
Pick up at the meeting point for transfer to Mirage, moored at the port in Carcassonne. Meet the crew with a grand cru Champagne toast and settle in whilst cruising east to the Foucault’s Epanchoir, the mooring for the night. Dinner on board.
Day 2 Monday – Carcassonne to Villesequelande
Wake up to a classic French breakfast of croissant, pastries, fresh fruits, coffee, tea, and juices served on the sun deck. Then, a guided tour to the medieval town of Mirepoix, where half-timbered houses line the market square; time to explore the shops and street market stalls before taking lunch at one of the local auberges. After lunch, cruise on westwards, with a chance to walk or cycle along the tow path, or simply relax in one of the comfortable deck chairs as the countryside glides by. Dinner on board and moor at Villesequelande lock.
Day 3 Tuesday – Villesquelande to Beteille
Excursion to the lively Mediterranean city of Narbonne. See the Via Domitia, the first Roman road in Gaul, which connected Italy to Spain; the 11th century Cathedral, still one of the tallest in France, but unfinished; a visit to the Les Halles covered market, help Chef choose what will be on the menu for dinner. Enjoy a bistro lunch and then return to Mirage for an afternoon cruise through the countryside and an elegant series of locks. Dinner on board, moor at Beteille lock.
Day 4 Wednesday – Beteille to Villepinte
Excursion to the historic Cité de Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage sit.. Step back in time as you explore the restored medieval fortified town and shop in the boutiques lining the cobblestone streets. Lunch on succulent cassoulet, the region’s most famous dish of beans and duck confit, prepared at the Auberge des Lices. Afternoon cruise with views of the Pyrenees on the way towards Bram, a Roman outpost and Cathar town. Dinner on board and moor at Villepinte lock.
Day 5 – Thursday – Villepinte to St Sernin
Visit to the town of Limoux in the Pyrenee foothills for a tour and tasting at the Ginot winery, revealing all there is to know about putting bubbles in white wine; Cremants, Blanquettes and the most famous of all, ‘champagne’ (which Limoux claims to have invented). Lunch at a typical restaurant before an afternoon cruise with many pretty locks, and more opportunities for exercise for those who don’t want to just laze on deck. Dinner on board and moor at St Sernin lock.
Day 6 – Friday – St Sernin to Castelnaudary
Drive up to the lake of St. Ferréol in the Black Mountains to visit an impressive museum an exhibits explaining the complex engineering needed to keep the water flowing from this storage lake to both sides of the Canal du Midi, one to the Atlantic and one to the Mediterranean. Stop in Revel to browse the open-air farmer’s market and take time out for a coffee or aperitif in the town square. Lunch at Revel, the antique dealers’s village, and then an afternoon of cruising to Castelnaudary bassin. Farewell dinner on board and moor at Castelnaudary.
Day 7 – Saturday – Departure
After breakfast, depart to the drop-off point at Carcassonne, Narbonne TGV station or Toulouse airport for onward journey.
Please note: This itinerary is subject to change and on alternate weeks runs in the opposite direction.
Smart Cruise Itinerary – 3 nights
Charter only, from $2,340 per person
Day 1 Sunday – Carcassonne
Pick up and transfer to Mirage for a grand cru Champagne toast and then cruise to Foucault’s Epanchoir for a delicious supper on board. Moor for the night.
Day 2 Monday – Visit to Mirepoix
After a classic French breakfast we’ll explore the medieval town of Mirepoix, before lunch at one of the local auberges. Then cruise back to Carcassonne, with views of the historic fortified city above the canal. You’ll have an opportunity to walk or bike along the canal tow path, or simply relax on deck. Moor up and dine aboard – Mimi will demonstrate how she prepares you next delicious meal.
Day 3 Tuesday – Visit to Carcassonne
Visit the historic Cité de Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore and shop in this restored Medieval town and lunch on a succulent cassoulet, the region’s most famous dish of beans and duck confit prepared at the Auberge des Lices. Then, an afternoon cruise towards Bram, where you will be served your farewell dinner.
Day 4 Wednesday – Departure
Depart after breakfast on deck, with drop-off at Carcassonne, Narbonne TGV station or Toulouse airport for onward journey.
Please note: This itinerary is subject to change and the following 3 day cruise will run in the opposite direction.
For those who would like to experience hotel barge cruising in do-it-yourself style, Mirage provides a perfect setting with the freedom to cook-in or eat out.
The cruise includes:
- Six night charter from Saturday – Friday, including fuel and water
- Use of the galley and equipment; pantry staples (condiments, cooking oil etc)
- All linen and bedding
- One washing machine load per cabin per week
- Transfers from and to Carcassonne on days 1 and 7
- Two shopping excursions for galley provisions in the barge vehicle
- Transport to / from local restaurants (if required)
- Use of bikes
- Wi-Fi (subject to local reception
- Friendly advice and local knowledge from the barge owners
- Food and beverage.
- Transportation services (except where mentioned above)
- Gratuities for the crew (discretionary)
See the Prices tab for Optional Extras
Hotel Barge Mirage cruises through Midi-Languedoc, southern France
Barge Cruising – Midi-Languedoc
Canal du Midi – Canal de la Robine
The Canal du Midi has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in acknowledgement of the astonishing feat carried out by its 17th century architect Pierre-Paul Riquet in linking the Etang du Thau in the south east with the River Garonne in Toulouse, effectively making it possible to convey goods from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Riquet’s audacity in engineering can be seen in the flight of nine characteristically oval-shaped locks at Fonserannes, near the ancient city of Beziers which is famous not just for its 13th century cathedral, but for its bullfighting festival too. If ticking off UNESCO sites is your thing, then you get two for one in Carcassonne, where the canal passes close to the ancient citadel that forms one of the most iconic skylines in the whole country.
The 240 km length of this historic waterway is extraordinarily beautiful, meandering between the vineyards of Corbieres to the south and the Minervois to the north and a visit to the wine town of Minerve, which has been designated as one of the most beautiful in France, is a treat. A diversion along the Canal de la Robine leads to Narbonne, which dates back to Roman times when it was a strategic trading centre, and even today its covered market, supplied by local producers, is a kind of foodie heaven.
Hotel barges often collect and return guests to a pre-agreed Toulouse or Narbonne hotel. French international airports are at Toulouse, Bordeaux – and Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are also European-flight airports at Carcassonne and Montpellier. TGV express train stations are located at Toulouse, Carcassonne, Narbonne and Montpellier; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.
– [below] In the region: Minervois, Minerve, Canal du Midi, Beziers, Narbonne, Carcassonne –
Situated mid-way along the Canal du Midi, Carcassonne has an incredible history dating back to the Romans and the Visigoths; the town was a stronghold of the Cathars and the fortress of Simon de Montfort. The so-called ‘New Town’, located on the opposite bank of the River Aude from the fortified Cité, was founded by ‘Saint’ Louis IX and Carcassonne then successfully resisted siege by the Black Prince in the C14th Hundred Years War. The Cité then fell into such disrepair that it was planned to demolish it entirely in 1849 but public outcry saved this gigantic remarkable and picturesque castle and it was restored through the architectural genius of Viollet le Duc. The backdrop to many swashbuckling Hollywood films!
Hotel Barge Mirage: Details and facilities
- Dimensions: 98.5 ft x 16.5 ft
- Cabins: Both St Exupery (139 ft2), Concorde (124 ft2) have king size / twin beds. Caravelle (120 ft2) has a queen size double bed.
- Ensuites: Concorde and St Exupery cabins have showers, the Caravelle has a Japanese bathtub
- Each cabins has: safe, hair dryer, 220v & 110v sockets
- Crew of four: captain and pilot, chef, matelot/tour guide and hostess
Other items on board:
- Large saloon/dining room with very high ceilings, giving a very spacious ambience; fully-stocked bar; open galley (650 sq ft, 9.85 ft floor to ceiling)
- Flat screen satellite TV, dvd, music, Wifi internet access
- Panoramic opening portholes/skylights
- Library, board games
- Enclosed wheelhouse with panoramic windows
- Large teak sun deck with dining area, loungers and canopy
- One set of steps with gentle gradient and double hand rails provide access from deck to saloon. Sorry, no wheelchair access provided
Hotel Barge Mirage: Cuisine
Lunches are taken in local restaurants in typical French villages, to provide guests with that authentic experience during their stay in France.
Mirepoix: L’autre Jardin
Abbaye Fronfroide: La table de Fronfroide
Carcassonne: Le Comte Roger
Fanjeaux: La table Cathare or Revel: L’Entre Vin
Dinners are served on board Mirage, prepared with the freshest locally sourced meats, sea food, fish, and cooked using traditional methods and recipes unique to the region. The open galley allows you to sip a glass of wine and pick up tips from the chef as your meals are prepared.
Quality wines are selected from local vintners in the Languedoc-Rousillon region and served with meals, and are freely available from the bar at all times.
Puff pastry of beetroot
Grilled prawns flambés in Cognac, served with locally grown rice
Cheese platter featuring regional cheeses
Melting chocolate fondant cake
Fresh baby greens salad with foie gras on toasted spice bread
Homemade succulent cassoulet roasted beans, duck confit and pork
Cheese platter featuring regional cheeses
Grand Marnier pastry baba style.
Baked eggs and foie gras
Joint of pork
Mascarpone cheese and strawberries
A selection of cold sliced meats
Deep fried duck pastry rocket pocket
Chilled minted pea velouté
Beef with French vegetables “façon grand-mère”
Regional cheeses platter
Hand-crafted dessert by artisan chocolatier BIMAS
Charter and Cabin bookings
Sunday to Saturday
All lunches ashore in selected restaurants, all breakfasts and all dinners on board.
Regular rate weeks:
April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
May 6, 13, 20, 27
June 3, 10, 17, 24
July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
August 5, 12, 19, 26
September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
October 7, 14
2 guest charter: 13,250 EUR / 14,100 USD
3 guest charter: 14,850 EUR / 15,800 USD
4 guest charter: 17,250 EUR / 18,350 USD
5 guest charter: 20,450 EUR / 21,750 USD
6 guest charter: 22,800 EUR / 24,300 USD
Per Cabin bookings
Double Cabin: 4,000 EUR / 4,280 USD per person sharing a double cabin
Single Occupancy Supplement: 1,470 EUR / 1,575 USD
3, 4 or 5-night cruises:
2 guest charter: 1,100 EUR / 1,200 USD per person per night
3 guest charter: 840 EUR / 890 USD per person per night
4 guest charter: 740 EUR / 790 USD per person per night
5 guest charter: 690 EUR / 730 USD person per night
6 guest charter: 670 EUR / 710 USD per person per night
Charter bookings only
Saturday – Friday
2 – 6 guest charter: 8,100 USD / 7,300 EUR
Breakfast aboard every morning: 490 USD / 450 EUR
Excursion (price per excursion): 110 USD / 100 EUR per person.
All rates and prices will be confirmed at time of booking. Special Offers are available from time to time – contact us
We feature information about 50 wonderful hotel barges, of various sizes and price/style levels, more than 100 individual cruises to choose from every week of the season, in 8 regions across France. Some book flexibly by the cabin, others exclusively charter the entire hotel barge. Quite a choice!
Every one of our hotel barge information pages has been carefully crafted and written by us, from our own unique first hand-hand experience – but we also understand that there’s nothing like speaking to a friendly expert to help see the wood for the trees and make the best possible decision about the vacation cruise of a lifetime.
So please, send us a Booking Enquiry form (click on the red tab above) or just pick up the phone and give us a call.
We love France, we love the rivers and canals of France, we love hotel barging – and we love talking about all three!
+33 609 740 064 -or- +44 7590 287 178
We have been cruising and exploring France
aboard our own river boat since 2003.
– we also have expert colleagues in North America and Australia –