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Mirage

Canal du Midi

Deck © MirageCrew - Manon, Mimi & Pascal © MirageLiving area - Mirage © Bunn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cruise from Carcassonne to Castelnaudary (v.v) – 6 nights

3, 4 or 5 night itineraries also available

 

+ All lunches ashore in local restaurants

+ Unique biplane flight option: experience Midi from the air!

 

Mirage owners Mimi & Pascal Chauvin, along with their dog Lola, are your gracious hosts for an unforgettable cruise aboard their authentic 1950s French barge. Mimi and Pascal, both retired from the French Air Force, and refurbished Mirage in 2006, creating the elegant, luxury hotel barge you can enjoy today.

Pascal had two dreams growing up. One was to be a jet fighter pilot, which he did flying all around the globe for 21 years in the French Air Force. His second dream was to live on a barge. This has become reality with Mirage. He has combined his two passions offering passengers aboard Mirage the opportunity to tour in his classic Comet biplane, flying over Medieval Carcassonne, Cathar castles, and offering a different view of the Canal du Midi winding its way through the countryside.

Both the 3 and 6 nights cruise itineraries include a special ‘lunch ashore’ program, at quality local restaurants, to taste the regional cuisine in typical French villages.

 

Features

Mirage vue du ciel © MirageOverview

– 30.8m x 5.05m
– Up to 6 passengers
– 4 crew members: Captain Pascal, Hostess Mimi, private Chef, Tour Guide and “Lola” the dog
– 3 large cabins
– 30 opening portholes fill Mirage with light and air
– Optional excursion by air in Comet biplane
– Outdoor sun deck

 

Salon Mirage © Sonia JonesSalon

– Large salon/dining room (60 m²) with open bar and open galley
– Flat screen satellite TV, DVD, music, WiFi internet access
– Air conditioning
– 14 panoramic opening portholes/skylights
– Comfortable sofas & aviator chairs
– Unique aviation’s decoration of the late 30s
– Library &board games

 

Concorde cabin © Sonia JonesCabins

– Concorde: 13 m² with twin or queen beds and shower
– St Exupéry: 11.5 m² with twin or queen beds and shower
– Caravelle: 11 m² with double bed and Japanese bathtub
– Safety deposit box
– Hair Dryer
– 220v & 110v sockets

 

Deck Mirage © Sonia JonesDeck

– Enclosed wheelhouse with panoramic windows
– Large teak deck
– Sun loungers, lounge arm chairs
– Sun canopy
– Dining area
– Six all-terrain bicycles provided

 

 

Barge Mirage © Sonia JonesVehicle for transfers/excursions

– 7-passenger air-conditioned minivan


Accessibility

– Gangplank
– One set of steps from terrace deck to salon with gentle gradient and double hand rails

Floorplan

Mirage floor plan

 

Location map

Canal du Midi cruises (Carcassonne to Castelnaudary – 6 nights or Carcassonne to Bram – 3 nights)

 

Meeting points Cruise itinerary
Points of interest    

 

 

Sample itinerary: Carcassonne to Castelnaudary - 6 nights cruise

Gourmet Languedoc Food & Wine Cruise

 

Canal du Midi © Sonia JonesExperience Pierre-Paul Riquet’s engineering marvel, the Canal du Midi, cruising on Mirage. Completed in 1681 to link the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean, the Canal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.

On alternate weeks the cruise will run from Castelnaudary to Carcassonne. Every week will include a visit to an open air market, wine tasting, and all the lunches on shore at a quality restaurant to enjoy the regional cuisine in a typical french village. Each day includes three to four hours cruising the canal, as well as an onshore excursion in our air-conditioned van, with your English-speaking tour guide. All dinners are hosted aboard Mirage.

 

Day 1 – Sunday: Welcome aboard!

 

Concorde cabin © MirageYour captain Pascal and your hostess Manon will pick you up at your rendez-vous point, and transfer you to Mirage’s mooring in the charming port of Carcassonne, where Captain Pascal and crew welcome you aboard with a grand cru Champagne toast.

While you settle in, enjoy a leisurely hour cruising to the Foucault’s Epanchoir, which will be your mooring for the night. Enjoy the peaceful and scenic surroundings as you are served a delicious dinner prepared by your personal host Pascal & Mimi. Night at Foucault’s Epanchoir.

 

Day 2 – Monday: Mirepoix

 

Mirepoix © Sonia JonesWake up to a classic French breakfast of croissant, pastries, fresh fruits, coffee, tea, and juices served on the sun deck.

To begin your day, our tour guide will escort you to the medieval town of Mirepoix, where half-timbered houses line the market square. You will have time to explore the shops and street market stalls before taking lunch at one of the local auberges, offering regional cuisine and wines for a relaxed meal.

Following lunch, you’ll return to the barge for a cruise toward your next mooring, with views of the historic fortified city above the canal. As the barge passes through several locks, you’ll have an opportunity to walk or bike along the canal tow path, or simply relax in one of the comfortable deck chairs as the countryside glides by. As evening nears, sit in the salon with a glass of wine and watch as Mimi or Pascal prepare your dinner with fresh ingredients gathered from the local market. Night at Villesèquelande lock.

 

Day 3 – Tuesday: Fontfroide Abbey

 

CloÎtre © Abbaye de FontfroideThis morning, we will visit the Fontfroide Abbey, founded in the 11th century and built on land given to Benedictine monks by the Vicomte de Narbonne. The abbey takes its name from the nearby source: the Fons Frigidus (Cold Fountain). This land was also very rich in wood and stone that the monks used for the construction of the monastery. The abbey has been beautifully restored and is famous for its superb 13th century cloister, intricately formed gothic arches and columns. We will also visit the rose garden in Fontfroide, one of the largest rose garden in Southern France, with almost 2,500 roses.

Enjoy lunch at the Abbey’s restaurant before returning to Mirage for an afternoon cruise, past quiet fields, trees and through an elegant series of locks. Your day wraps up with another delicious dinner on board, served with Pascal’s choice of wines. Night at Béteille lock.

 

Day 4 – Wednesday: Limoux

 

© LimouxThis morning, we visit the town of Limoux in the Pyrenees foothills. We will continue our visit and discover the cellars of Maison Guinot. Established in 1875, Maison Guinot has been vinifying Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux using the ‘Méthode Traditionnelle’. Our tour will reveal all there is to know about putting ‘bulles’ (bubbles) in white wine: Crémants, Blanquettes and the most famous of all, Champagne. Limoux lays claim to inventing this celebratory beverage.

Lunch is served in a typical restaurant before an afternoon cruise with many pretty locks, and some more opportunities for exercise for those who don’t want to just laze on deck. Dinner will be served aboard Mirage on the sun deck. Night at St Sernin lock.

 

Day 5 – Thursday: Carcassonne

 

Carcassonne © Sonia JonesA cruise on the Canal du Midi wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the historic Cité de Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You will step back in time as you explore the restored medieval fortified town. In Carcassonne, you will have the opportunity to shop in boutiques lining the cobblestone streets. Step after step, your appetite will be worked up for a succulent gastronomic lunch at restaurant “Le Comte Roger”, kitchen to the most famous Chef of the medieval Cité.

An afternoon cruise allows time to relax and enjoy views of the Pyrenees as you make your way to the quaint port of Bram, just below the picturesque village of the same name. Bram was a Roman outpost and the largest circulade Cathar town of Europe. Take in the scenery as you are served another fabulous dinner on deck. Night at Villepinte lock.

 

Day 6 – Friday: Château de Pennautier or Biplane flight (option)

 

Châteaux du Sud © LorgerilThis morning, we have a ‘rendez-vous’ in Pennautier village for a wine tasting session at the Maison Lorgeril. They are the owner of six family estates in the south of France and are happy to share their philosophy and approach to making wines. They have more than 30 wines for you to taste and discover: AOC Cabardès, Minervois, Minervois la Livinière, Saint Chinian, Faugères, Coteaux de Languedoc, Côtes du Roussillon villages, etc. You can also visit the barrel cellar and follow a guided tour to learn about wine.

Following a leisurely lunch at the Lorgeril restaurant, an afternoon cruise brings us to our final mooring at the Castelnaudary bassin. A romantic view of the town serves as the backdrop for your farewell dinner on board. Night in Castelnaudary.

 

Day 7 – Saturday: Departure

 

In the morning, after breakfast on the deck, you depart in the van to either the train station or airport for the continuation of your journey.

 

Sample itinerary: Carcassonne to Bram - 3 nights cruise

Canal du Midi

 

This 3 night cruise aboard Mirage will take you along six stunning locks of the Canal du Midi from Carcassonne to Bram (Sunday to Wednesday) or reverse (Wednesday to Saturday). Private charter only, from 2 to 6 passengers..

 

 

 

Day 1 – Sunday: Welcome aboard!

 

Barge © MirageOur tour guide will pick you up at your rendez-vous point, and transfer you to Mirage, where Captain Pascal and crew await to welcome you with a grand cru Champagne toast. Once you are settled in, Mirage will leave her mooring in the port of Carcassonne for a relaxing one-hour cruise to Foucault’s Epanchoir. Enjoy the peaceful and scenic surroundings as you are served a delicious dinner prepared by Mimi or Pascal.

 

Day 2 – Monday: Mirepoix

 

Deck © MirageWake up to a classic French breakfast of croissant, pastries, fresh fruits, coffee, tea, and juices served on the sun deck. To begin your day, our tour guide will escort you to the medieval town of Mirepoix, where half-timbered houses line the market square. You will have time to explore the shops and street market stalls before taking lunch at one of the local auberges, offering regional cuisine and wines for a relaxed meal.

Following lunch you’ll return to the barge for a cruise toward your next mooring, with views of the historic fortified city above the canal. As the barge passes through several locks, you’ll have an opportunity to walk or bike along the canal tow path, or simply relax in one of the comfortable deck chairs as the countryside glides by. As evening nears, sit in the salon with a glass of wine and watch as Pascal or Mimi prepares your dinner with fresh ingredients gathered from the local market.

 

Day 3 – Tuesday: Carcassonne

 

Canal du MidiA cruise on Canal du Midi wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the historic Cité de Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You will step back in time as you explore the restored medieval fortified town. Carcassonne also affords the chance to shop in boutiques lining the cobblestone streets. Step after step, your appetite will be worked up for a succulent cassoulet, the region’s most famous dish of beans and duck confit prepared at the restaurant “Le Comte Roger”.

An afternoon cruise allows time to relax and enjoy views of the Pyrenees as you make your way to the quaint port of Bram, just below the picturesque village of the same name. Bram was a Roman outpost and the largest circulade Cathar town of Europe. Take in the scenery as you are served a farewell dinner on deck.

 

Day 4 – Wednesday: Departure

 

Breakfast on deck © Mirage

 

In the morning, after breakfast on the deck, you depart in the van to either the train station or airport for the continuation of your journey.

Experience Midi from the air - Flying with Pascal in a vintage WWI biplane

A cruise on Mirage offers an excursion opportunity totally unique to barge vacations on the Canal du Midi. Pascal is retired from 21 years flying jets in the French Air Force. He now puts his extensive skills as a pilot to use flying a classic WWI biplane, the Comet, taking passengers for an extraordinary 35 minute flight to experience the Languedoc countryside from the air. You will take off from the private airfield at Fanjeaux, and soar above ancient ruined castles, Cathar villages, and the Medieval city of Carcassonne. You will especially enjoy seeing the Canal du Midi winding through the Lauragais fields and Minervois vineyards from Comet’s open cockpit. As a special souvenir of your flight, you will be offered a GoPro 180° HD film of the flight.

 

Watch the video of a flight with Pascal in ‘Comet!

 

NB: Available option with 6-night cruises only. For this itinerary, there are 4 days spent navigating on the canal. The final day of your trip will be devoted to your flying adventure, as the barge remains moored. Should some members of your group not care to take a flight, a special ground excursion with our tour guide will be arranged. For safety regulations, and according to the French aeronautical law, the maximum authorized passenger weight in the front seat of the biplane is 100 kg.

Photo Gallery

Testimonials

“Thank you so much for everything you did to make this a very memorable experience! The canal was beautiful, the dinners and wines exquisite, the daily trips informative and fun! Thank you especially for sharing your home and barge with us. You are wonderful and beautiful people and a wish for you all the very best in the many years to come!” Lisa, October 2016

 

“Thank you for a wonderful week on your lovely barge, the Mirage. You made our time on the canal truly unforgettable. Great food, great wines, great conversations. You provide a very special experience to travellers and we hope you will continue to have success in this adventure. Many, many thanks!” Chuck & Lynne, September 2016

 

“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 Manon. 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, May 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

 

Cruise Fares

Mirage cruise fares for 2017:

 

6 nights cruise*

 Private charter – Full board: from 3,570€ per person based on 6 passengers
 Open week – Full board – Twin/double cabin: from 3,680€ per person
• Single supplement: from + 1,350€ per person

 

Shorter cruises* (private charters only)

 3 nights – Full board: from 1,860€ per person based on 6 passengers
• 4 nights – Full board: from 2,480€ per person based on 6 passengers
• 5 nights – Full board: from 3,100€ per person based on 6 passengers

*Optional Biplane flight: + 225€ per person (40 minutes – subject to weather conditions)
Charters can be taken with less passengers (prices on request).

 

Included in the fare:

– 3, 4, 5 or 6 nights accommodation
– All meals, with lunches on shore at a quality restaurant of the Captain’s choice
– Transfers to and from the barge from the Carcassonne or Narbonne train station or local hotel
– All excursions and visits to historical sites, museums, entrance fees, vineyards for wine-tastings, markets, and restaurants in air-conditioned minivan
– All wines, bar, and refreshment drinks aboard
– Use of on-board bicycles, library, CD/DVD collection and player, Wi-Fi

 

 

 

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