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Marion wrote: I am a sea lover. Seems to be an interesting cruise. david martin Abrahams would love to travel on it.
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YV&C News Desk wrote: Cruising the canals of the Camargue in the South of France is to sample a vacation experience like no other, as you enjoy the local food and wine together with the flexibility, freedom and fun that only a self-catering yacht vacation can offer.
YV&C News Desk wrote: Cruising the canals of the Camargue in the South of France is to sample a vacation experience like no other, as you enjoy the local food and wine together with the flexibility, freedom and fun that only a self-catering yacht vacation can offer.


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Cruising the Camargue on a Yacht Charter Vacation
The black pearl of the Med


We arrived in Aigues-Mortes, a medieval walled Crusader town whose ramparts today are as robust as ever they were.  The town sits stranded nearly four miles from the sea.  It was built by Louis IX as a port and remains a symbol of human obstinacy because it was clearly silted up before it was ever completed and, despite it being the salt capital of the Camargue, became a virtual backwater almost as soon as it was completed.  It is perhaps because of this that the town is so perfectly intact today.  Henry James writing 100 years ago said the town was hardly alive but was neatly embalmed.  I doubt he would say that today as 130,000 tourists flock there each year.  They come to do as we did, walk the near mile of solid stone ramparts that surround the town that is dominated by the Tour Constance, which was the original ports lighthouse and subsequently served as a prison, which is not surprising given that its walls are up to 20 feet thick.  That evening we ate under the stars, taking dinner at one of the many restaurants that fill the town square.  Next morning, Sunday, it was market day and we took full advantage of the edible goodies on sale, walking back to the boat with our newly purchased baskets bursting at the seams.

The scenery changed again and the canal passed through stonewall banks with water either side of the walls.  It was here that the waterway runs parallel with the sea and at one point, close to the Abbey de Maguelonne we stopped for lunch, mooring alongside the towpath and taking our bicycles to the beach and abbey.  That evening with what can only be described by the skipper as immaculate planning and by his crew as a sheer fluke, we arrived in Frontignan just as the bridge made the last of its three daily openings, and passed into the town made famous by producing 2 million bottles of Muscat, the sweet wine, every year.

Shortly after leaving town the next day we left the Canal du Rhône à Sète and entered the Etang.  This shallow sea lake is heavily farmed by oystermen, producing tons of the shelled aphrodisiac in numbers to equal the production of northern France.  We visited the ports of Mèze and Marseillan, choosing to spend the night in the latter.  It is here that Noilly Prat, the vermouth, is made and the factory offers a fascinating tour of inspection where guides explain the complex, time-consuming process behind the mixing and blending that goes on to produce the quintessential aperitif.  We feasted on local oysters that night and I have an observation to make to would-be oyster openers: potato peelers are poor substitutes for a proper oyster knife!  We also enjoyed La Tielle, or squid pie, a local specialty made with bread dough filled with baby octopus in a spicy tomato sauce, which was quite delicious.

It did not take very long the next day for us to cross the final stretch of lake and enter the Canal du Midi or Riquets Ditch, as the less reverend tend to call it.  Our trip would take us along the canal through the vineyards of Langudoc towards Homps, but that is another story for another issue.

For our crew, the highpoints of the trip included our visit to Aigues-Mortes, the historic sights, and the Sunday open market.  The wildlife of the Camargue was outstanding with the horses, cattle, and pretty flamingos.  Because we are foodies, we adored the markets selling local produce and particularly enjoyed our tour of the Noilly Pratt factory in Marseillan.  Will we be back?  Most certainly, I can think of no better way of combining the love of boating with the sheer joy of walking in the countryside and eating and drinking its produce.  It is the perfect family holiday and I would recommend it and Connoisseur, the company that runs the boats so well, to everyone.   

More Information: The Camargue

  • Travel
    Connoisseur bases are conviently located within a reasonable distance from an airport.  Nimes Montepellier and Perpignan are all served by budget airlines operating out of the UK.  Marseilles is served by Air France and British Airways.  There are smaller airports at Béziers and Carcassonne.
  • Charter Costs
    Our trip took place in May when the cost of this boat was priced at €2365 for a week.  It rises to €3700 per week at the height of the season.  The only boat based extras is the cost of the fuel and this is charged at €6 per hour of engine time used and deducted from the fuel deposit paid at time of taking the boat.  In ten days we clocked up 42 hours of use.  A one way supplement of €100 is charged and both base car parking and hire of bicycles must be allowed for if required.  Marinas charge very little, seldom more than €25 per night and generally include water and electricity, but truthfully many ports are free as is the towpath.  Why pay if you do not need to?
  • Charts, Pilots & Guides
    There is a guidebook on board each boat, which truthfully is a little out of date, still quoting, for example, marina fees in Francs long after the euro became the currency of France.  We used the much lauded multi lingual Midi Camargue Waterway Guide published in France by Éditions du Breil available on the internet, in better nautical bookshops or direct from Connosisseur at time of booking.  My advice is to buy it as early it is a perfect planning tool and invaluable if you want to get the most out of the holiday trip.
  • Paperwork
    Very little is needed and what there can will be handled by the base staff who know all the ropes and hand it all over at the time of the boat briefing.  If using credit cards in France it is sometimes useful to carry a photo ID.
  • Weather
    It was very pleasant in early May and whilst we confess we did not utilise the air conditioning we own up to firing up the webasto central heating on a couple of damp evenings.  With the heat of the summer time will come crowds, more boats and longer passage times!
About Michael and Frances Howorth
Frances & Michael Howorth have been travelling together for the last 25 years, initially working aboard cruise liners and then as crew aboard luxury private and charter yachts. Latterly their trips have been confined to joint photojournalistic assignments aboard ships and yachts. Their voyages of discovery have taken them to Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, India, and a plethora of islands in between with such diversity as to include Tristan de Cunha, St Helena, and the Maldive Islands.

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Cruising the canals of the Camargue in the South of France is to sample a vacation experience like no other, as you enjoy the local food and wine together with the flexibility, freedom and fun that only a self-catering yacht vacation can offer.

Cruising the canals of the Camargue in the South of France is to sample a vacation experience like no other, as you enjoy the local food and wine together with the flexibility, freedom and fun that only a self-catering yacht vacation can offer.


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