Hotel Barge Charter CRUISEs along the Garonne Valley
between Bordeaux and Toulouse
The luxury hotel Saint Louis’ cruising area is South-West France – we travel along the Canal de Garonne between Montauban (in the Midi-Pyrenees region) and Meilhan (in the Aquitaine region).
There are two itineraries – the West ‘Bordeaux’ Route and the East ‘Toulouse’ Route – that meet at Agen. Each itinerary is followed separately in an easterly or a westerly direction, so that there are four possible charter cruises.
Once a separate kingdom, then a duchy, and formerly much larger in area, the present-day region of Aquitaine extends from Perigueux (Dordogne) in the north, to Bordeaux in the west, to Pau and the Pyrenees mountains in the south and to Valence-en-Agen (towards Toulouse) in the east. Taken as a whole, this is France’s most significant wine-growing, agricultural and forestry area. Bordeaux is important as an Atlantic sea-port and for its wine and Toulouse is France’s fourth largest city, renowned for its aerospace and aeronautics, its science and its university (one of the oldest in Europe, founded in 1229).
There are more than 1,000 castles and manor houses in our region, as well as beautiful old villages and historic towns.
Gascony, Armagnac and Bastides
South-West France includes the historical area of Gascony, famed as the land of the real-life Comte d’Artagnan, who inspired Alexandre Dumas’s character in The Three Musketeers. Aquitaine is also home to the hero of the play Cyrano de Bergerac and to the famous Henry III of Navarre who later became king of France as Henry IV.
South West France is famed for its douceur de vivre (“sweetness of life”): its food (it is home to foie gras and Armagnac brandy), its medieval fortified new towns and villages called Bastides nested amidst green rolling hills, its sunny weather and the beauty of its landscape, with the occasional distant views of the Pyrenees. The area is also known for fruit-growing and market-gardening, for maize (corn), sunflowers and for tobacco-growing (although this has recently declined significantly in recent years).
And of course, our hidden corner is also about Wine. South-West France has been growing grapes, producing fabled wines, since Roman times and well before the adjoining Bordeaux region (to the north-west) became dominant in the late nineteenth century. Aboard Saint Louis you can savour their quality.