Monday, April 06, 2009

Enchanté New French Hotel Barge - South of France : Canal du Midi and Provence & Camargue routes

Enchanté says delighted to meet you! The new hotel barge Enchanté is scheduled to start cruising the rivers and canals of the South of France beginning August 2, 2009 and the task of converting her into a luxury floating hotel has been progressing as planned.

Here's an update that we recently received. Oh, by the way, there is a 10% discount for August 2009 cruises aboard Enchanté... contact us for details.

When we build a hotel barge, the first question we ask, is just what size are the locks on the particular section of the canal or river to be cruised? Usually locks are 130 feet long in France and the majority of our barges are 127 feet long and fit just right! However, in his esteemed wisdom, the engineer Pierre Paul Riquet who designed the UNESCO World Heritage acclaimed Canal du Midi in 1625, built the locks at 100 feet long.

Finding a barge to fit these smaller dimensions is nigh on impossible these days. In 1982, when I built Anjodi for the Midi, I spent 3 months trawling the backwaters of Holland and Belgium before finding a perfect barge which would just fit the stone-sided, oval Midi locks.

When Enchanté was conceived, we knew we would never find a 100 foot barge, so we acquired a 130 footer and cut her down to size! This, as you may imagine, is not an easy process and there are only a few places left in the Low Countries that I would trust with this hugely skilled task.

The photographs give you a quick view of just how we did it. These shots were taken some time ago and Enchanté has now been launched is now having her luxury interior fitted out ready for the season ahead.

Here are the photos (used by permission)... Click to enlarge!

Notice the two cuts...

Here the section has been removed. Look closely and you can see it off to the right.

For several years Bob & I lived on a barge that was being converted into a houseboat on the Seine outside of Paris (La Péniche "Black Moon" in Port Marly, France), plus we built two sail boats, so we really enjoy "baby" pictures :)