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Boating Holidays In South West France

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Beautiful rivers and canals - France at her best!

The south west of France offers many opportunities for fine canal and river cruising. The Canal de Garonne acts as a continuation of the Canal du Midi in linking the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.The meandering River Lot to the east and River Baïse to the south provide excellent river cruising with many tempting stops en route. Further north, the River Charente is renowned as one of France's most picturesque rivers. River cruising here takes you to the elegant towns of Jarnac and Cognac, where a visit to a distillery is a distinct possibility!

Aquitaine has a fine tradition of gastronomy and a rich history. The region was attached to the British crown for 300 years from 1154 to 1453. Charming medieval towns like Vianne and Nérac and notable landmarks like the wonderful 11th century abbey at Moissac, and the remarkable canal bridge at Agen with its 23 arches, make this a superb region to explore. Agen is famous for its prunes but also for its fine art museum with works by Goya, Sisley and Dufy. Nearby Valence d'Agen has a spectacular two week 'son et lumière' in summer celebrating the importance of waterways to the region.

Away from the Canal de Garonne you can cruise short distances down the beautiful River Tarn, and along the Canal de Montech to Montauban which offers chic shopping and a superb farmers' market. Longer detours are available up the River Lot passing the lovely villages of Clairac and Castelmoron and the 'miniature Venice' of Casseneuil, as far as Villeneuve-sur-Lot, and down the River Baïse as far as Condom, famous as the production base for Armagnac. There is no connection whatever between the town's name and the birth control device, although, curiously, there is a museum dedicated to the history of condoms in Condom!

The River Charente between Angoulême and Rochefort offers leisurely cruising in a delightful setting. West of our base at Jarnac, home of Courvoisier, lie elegant Cognac with its renowned distilleries, St-Brice where you can moor right in front of a fine Renaissance château, and Saintes with its Roman heritage. To the east lie the ancient village of Bassac with its 1,000 year old abbey, and the cathedral city of Angoulême with its cobbled streets, great shopping and unique Cartoon Museum.

Places of Interest

Agen - The old centre of town contains a number of medieval buildings including Agen cathedral. The fine arts museum contains several hundred piece of work by Goya. The town is known as the capital of "the prune" with locals preparing the fruit in many ways including serving them with Armagnac.

Angoulême - The capital of the Charente department is a centre of paper manufacturing due to its consistent temperatures throughout the year and is also home to the "Rizla" cigarette paper. Its ornate cathedral is worth a visit, and comic and animation fans should also visit the city during one of its regular festivals.

Cahors - The land immediately surrounding Cahors is a vast producer of red wine. Pope John XXI was born in Cahors in 1249 and a tower with his name stands proudly in the town centre. Other sights include the Valentre bridge, which is depicted on the towns crest.

Cognac - Long before giving its name to one of the worlds best known distilled wines, Cognac was a large trader of salt. Many of its narrow, cobbled streets still feature buildings from the salt trade back in the 11th century. Today the 5 major brand names in Cognac open their doors to over 1.2 million visitors every year.

Villeneuve-sur-Lot - The town is split by the river Lot. There are several fine examples of 14th and 15th century buildings within the old town including the church of St Etienne - a gothic style church that can be seen from the river banks.

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