From 600 € for 4-6 ppl/4 nights
Slow tourism: sail in a houseboat and ride on an e-bike.
Canal du Midi: a feat of engineering.
Heritage: outstanding UNESCO monuments
the best period
Spring and Summer
A cruise on the Canal du Midi, taking you through the countryside from Port-Lauragais, leads you to the pink city of Toulouse where passionate locals will be your guides on walking or e-bike tours. Follow their advice, listen to their anecdotes and you'll know everything there is to know about the history, food, drink and secret side to a city famous for its lifestyle.
Head to the Port-Lauragais service station (A61 motorway) by the Canal du Midi to pick up and get to grips with your permit-free houseboat. Within an hour you'll learn the basics of boating so you can set sail with peace of mind on the Canal du Midi's green water. All you have to do is choose between the boat hire companies: Nicols or Navicanal.
We recommend taking a guided tour of the Canal du Midi exhibition at the Haute-Garonne Visitor Centre before you leave the Port-Lauragais service station. You'll learn everything there is to know about the structure by Pierre Paul Riquet, the great engineer behind the waterway that spent 300 years devoted to merchant shipping and is now solely for sailing.
Are you ready? All aboard for a 45km trip to Toulouse on the Canal du Midi just like in the 18th century. Cool off in the shade of the age-old plane trees in summer, gaze at the structures peppered along the way (bridges, spillways, locks, lock-keeper's houses), surprise ducks dozing in the reeds and switch to top gear as you "speed" to the regional capital at 8km/hr before dropping anchor at the Pavillon Bleu-awarded Port Saint-Sauveur (the water quality award also applies to rivers and canals). You'll be chatting away to lock-keepers, fellow boaters and cyclists on the canalside towpath so it will take you a leisurely 2 days to reach Toulouse. If you love slow tourism then this is the trip for you!
You can sleep in your cabins on the boat.
Toulouse old town is a 20 minute walk from Port-Saint-Sauveur. So start your day with a guided tour of Les Carmes neighbourhood where you'll find one of Toulouse's best indoor markets once you've signed up to the Toulouse Tourist Board's guided tour schedule.
Your walk to your guided tour start point, the fountain on the beautiful Place de la Trinité, takes you through the stunning Grand Rond park and Jardin Royal (bridge between the two).
Once you've visited the boho bourgeois neighbourhood that epitomises the Toulouse lifestyle, stroll around the colourful stalls at Les Carmes market, one of the city's most famous, before having lunch at one of the many nearby eateries.
The afternoon is all about soaking up the city, starting at Place des Carmes and ending at Place du Capitole taking in the Quais de Garonne, where you can visit the beautifully restored Notre-Dame de la Daurade Basilica, and Place St-Pierre (a hive of life and event venue that's very popular among the Toulouse student community in the early afternoon).
If you want to get some great shots of the old town and drink in the city views, head to the Ma Biche sur Le Toit rooftop: it has some of the best views of Toulouse plus the menu is designed by the 2 Michelin-starred chef, Michel Sarran!
Now you just have to get back on your boat on the underground, bus, VélôToulouse bike or on foot.
If you're looking for an eco-friendly way to explore the city that will leave you fresh as a daisy, we suggest a guided e-bike tour with Vélotrement for your last morning in Toulouse. Take your pick from the packages available: guided city tour or nature ride from Toulouse. The rides take around 3 hours.
Once you've finished your morning ride, it's time to set sail again back to Port-Lauragais.