The Anjodi barge trip along the Canal du Midi

August 29th, 2010

In August we took the barge Anjodi along the Canal du Midi in the Languedoc region on Southern France. It’s the same barge that Rick Stein filmed his wonderful series Rick Stein’s French Odyssey. Any expectations we had before we arrive were completely dwarfed as it turned out to be one of the best vacations we have ever had. We were 2 families, each with teenagers 13 and 15, and the accommodations, the food, the wine and beverages, and the tours and activities were better than anything we could have hoped for.

When we arrived the Anjodi was moored in the pretty little village of Homps.

As we approached some of the many bridges on the canal it seemed as if the barge couldn’t possibly get through.

Much of the beautiful scenery we passed was of sprawling vineyards. We discovered that Languedoc-Roussillon is currently the world's largest wine-producing region. Production exceeds that of Bordeaux and Australia, and the region’s wine represents a third of the volume of all French output, about 34 percent.

The original tow paths still exist along the canal and are great for cycling. It was lovely to cycle ahead of the barge and wait to be picked up while sitting at a canal-side café. The canal is almost entirely lined with sycamore trees, put there to create shade and help prevent evaporation.

The Anjodi moored in the beautiful village of Le Somail.

Herbs are grown alongside the barge for use in the kitchen.

The Chateau de Perdiguier where we spend an afternoon tasting their wines. Their elegant Vin de Pays wines are based on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Some of the regional wines we enjoyed on the trip. Frédéric Palacios, C Comme Ca Vin de Table, made from 100% Carignan Centenaire. A 2003 Domaine Perdiguier from the Chateau de Perdiguier. Limoux Aoc Toques et Clochers Océanique 2008 Chardonnay.

Our amazing Chef de Cuisine, Ken Williams. He did a spectacular job accommodating our party of 8 that included 2 vegetarians, 4 who required a kosher diet, and 2 omnivores. Ken is working on his book The Unknown Chef, and based on the food we sampled I think it will be an important part of any cookbook collection.

A bottle of Château Etang des Colombres Rose, Gris des Colombes, waits for us on the table while Ken prepares our evening barbeque next to the canal at Beziers.

A cheese stall at a nearby market.

The crew were constantly surprising us with special touches.

Some of the local charcuterie.

Local vegetables provide some spectacular colour.

Leaving the canal and entering the Etang du Thau, the large lagoon alongside the Mediteranean. Famous for it’s salt, the Etang de Thau is also an important region for supplying oysters and mussels.

Our incredible crew. From left to right. Ken Williams, our amazing Chef du Cuisine. Lauren Scott, our lovely Hostess and Chef du Cuisine on Ken’s night off. Our Captain, and very knowledgeable Sommelier, Julian Allsop. Benoit Pignard, our Matelot (First Mate). Jules, our entertaining and informative tour guide.

The sun rises over Sète on our last morning on the barge.