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SOUTHWEST FRANCE: BARGING RIGHT IN Text & Photos By Karen Feld

pon arrival at Perpignan Airport in Southwest France, a charming Gilles Sansa greeted us and engaged us with his personal tour of vineyards and villages in the area before dropping us off at the European Waterways ultra-luxury barge, Enchante. It was docked about an hour away in Trebes on the 300-year-old UNESCO heritage Canal du Midi, the oldest functioning canal in Europe. Legend has it that over a dozen years 15,000 men and woman dug ditches by hand that would one day enable a more efficient transport of goods. Once we reached the barge, the five English-speaking crew members led by Pilot Captain Elie Ficher were eager to pamper. They greeted us with Champagne as we boarded the double-decker hotel barge Enchante, our floating home for the next six days. Enchante is the largest hotel barge on the Canal du Midi. In fact, it was too lengthy at one point; owners had to cut down eight inches. “We built the boat to be the biggest boat on the canal,” explained owner Louisa Gronow. The canal is operated by the government. And, although it is the smallest in France, it permits barges to go from one canal to another as we did on the Robine Canal which links Narbonne to the Mediterranean. Soon after, enthusiastic hostess Sheryl Gilmore, who described her job as “in charge of sparkles” showed us to our suite on the lower deck, one of four comfortably appointed guest suites with private bath. AUGUST 2017 | NEW YORK LIFESTYLES MAGAZINE | 35

Profile for New York Lifestyles Magazine

New York Lifestyles Magazine - August 2017  

New York Lifestyles Magazine - August 2017