From Meilhan to Agen along the French canals.

Taking a canal holiday in the South West of France can be very enjoyable. Our short break started at a small villiage named Meilhan sur Garonne near Bordeaux, in the Aquitaine region of France. The trip was along the Canal Lateral a la Garonne which is an unspoilt area with wonderful scenery, superb local food and wine. The region has many medieval castles and very old villiages almost unchanged throughout the years.

You can hire a canal boat that either sleeps 2,6 or 8 people for your journey. All have comfortable beds – some double; fully equipped galleys (kitchens) with fridge, gas cooker and oven; all the cutlery, crockery and utencils that you need; and come complete with all bed linen including duvets. However, you need to bring your own towels. Heating is either with a space heater or there is central heating depending on the size of the canalboat you hire. All boats have radio cassettes or CD players and some have 240v supply.

Before you leave the mooring for the first time, the boat hire staff go around the vessel with you to allow you to familarise yourself with everything. They will give you instructions on starting the engine, handling the boat and stopping as well as how to moor up.  You will have no problems understanding the staff because they all speak very good English.

For those that have a passion for nature, there is a large nature reserve easily accessable along this canal trip. The place is at Tonneins, called Reserve Naturelle de L’etang de la Maziere. The nature reserve covers 100 acres of wetland, and is home to a vast array of aquatic wildlife. Not only bird watchers will be fanscinated but anyone with an interest in nature. There are well over 200 species of birds including herons, black kites, crested grebes and bitterns. In addition to birds the reserve also has loads of mammals, 44 different species, so something for all the family to see and enjoy.

Along the canal towards our destination at Agen we also visited the vineyards at Buzet-Sur-Baize, for a guided tour of the whole process of wine making!  After looking at all the barrels of wine, you get to sample at the tasting session. Wonderful! You are then able to buy some bottles at the shop on site. Afterwards you can wander around the vineyards on several routes throughout the area.

At Agen, the end of our canal journey, there is a beautiful Art Museum which dates back to the 16th century. It has over 2000 works of art including some from the Spanish artist, Goya. The museum also has the Palissy ceramics, which are very decorative. You will certainly come away having both an educational and enjoyable day in Agen.

Our one weeks holiday on the canalboat from Meilhan to Agen cost about £700 in April for 2 adults. Prices may vary depending on dates and special offers etc. It was certainly very relaxing, entertaining, enjoyable and we would thoroughly recommend this area of France for a holiday on the canals.

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