If you want just a taste of life on the Canal du Midi you can hire a small electric boat from Villeneuve-les-Béziers for an hour or two and enjoy the iconic scenery. The staff at the Tourist Office in Hérépian will phone to arrange it for you or you can ring yourself.(website link and address and phone number below)
Promenade des Vernets
Téléphone : 33 (0)6 17 64 49 21
Villeneuve-les-Béziers is an hour’s drive from Hérépian. As you approach the town (on the D37E13 road) and are about to cross the bridge over the canal, turn left into the small road beside the canal, the Promenade des Vernets. This is where you pick up the boat and you can park along the road.
We hired a five seater boat for two hours for 50Euros. The boat – with no engine – just had a forward or a reverse option and anyone steering went all over the place at first because it was so sensitive! However, the canal is quite wide and we soon got used to the steering. The boat’s small canopy offered limited shade but apart from the first five minutes the canal was tree lined and afforded its own shade. In just under an hour we reached the next lock at Portiranges and turned round to come back. There was just one small bridge to negotiate on the way.
The town of Villeneuve-les-Béziers itself is worth a visit after or before your canal trip. There are lots of shady bars and restaurants if you want a meal or drink. Make sure you look out for house in the centre with a big mural all along one side; it’s a real trompe l’oeil! We’d heard about it before we saw it but were still convinced the shutters on the windows were real!
The Canal du Midi extends for miles* from and is very popular with walkers and cyclists as well as for boating. A particular pretty stretch is around the historic town of Capestang (a few miles west of Béziers / 30 miles south west of Hérépian) and is well worth a visit.
* 150 miles from Toulouse on the Garonne to Sète on the Mediterranean coast