September 2009 Cruising Canal de Garonne, visiting Aquitaine

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Moissac was the start of our month before setting off cruising again.

60th Birthday week for Steve's brother here in Esmes. We had a wonderful day helping them celebrate, a good start to the month another special celebration, especially to see two brothers having such a lot of fun together.

It was a very mixed start. I had news later this day, my sister Marie had been taken into hospital very ill she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. We do not know the moment when life changes for any of us. All my family are very worried indeed.

I was so miserable after Marie's news, my knee was also causing me pain. We decided that we could continue my weekly visits to the hospital while cruising, but we did not get very far.

 

Party time in the Village of Montesquieu-Esmes
Party time in the Village of Montesquieu-Esmes

Cruising the Canal de Garonne - this photograph was taken near Malause port.

Sunset on the Canal de Garonne
Sunset on the Canal de Garonne

 

We soon become fixed in a port, it would have been so easy to stay in Moissac with it's safety net of good friends around. We have a wonderful social life here, but we craved some time for our selves.

Our first night after cruising, a sunset photograph which was take near Malause port, we moored to the bank and enjoyed two nights with the birds, a big change in the weather beginning of the month - rain, brought with it damp - September is John's favourite month especially with the changing colours, it was also very good weather for his cycling, lots of km's this month he enjoyed.

Pommevic port - Our very own patio ready for dining with Clive and Di

Our second stop on the canal Garonne was with Clive and Di we stopped in Pommevic for a cup of coffee and stayed 24 hours as we do, we enjoyed shared meals and catching up with them both, they are heading back to Moissac.

Valence d'Agen was our next port enjoying an over night stay - before moving onto Agen then onto Serignac port. We enjoyed good moorings in all the ports, little boats out, except for one night in Serignac 9 boats joined us. It was a peaceful time were I enjoyed catching up with the web site and mail also jobs that needed doing in the now cooler mornings.

 

Dining in Pommevic Port
Dining in Pommevic Port

Valence d'Agen - dinner aboard Blackbird fly

Valence d'Agen port
Valence d'Agen port

 

Jan dishing up her lovely homemade Lasagne
Jan dishing up her lovely homemade Lasagne

Fresh fruit in abundance in this area, wonderful apple crumble's made.

In Valence d'Agen we enjoyed an evening on Blackbird fly with friends Jan and John, also Huge and Jane on "Sea Wolf" and Chris and Val on "Lisa" we could have stayed on in this port longer but John and I decided the weather was so good we took advantage. We cruised on to the town of Agen, which lies between Bordeaux and Toulouse, a big centre for vegetables and fruit, especially the Agen prune - we missed the prune festival this year, but hear it was as good as ever. We enjoyed being around for the collecting of the fruit harvest.

 

Apples
Apples

Sunset over Agen Port
Sunset over Agen Port

We moored on the far bank in Agen port away from the hire base, hire base is very close to the main road and can be noisy. We had a very peaceful night enjoying a BBQ with a wonderful sunset as you can see.

Mooring in Agen
Mooring in Agen

 

Pont Canal d'Agen
Pont Canal d'Agen

We enjoyed some blissful weather for our viaduct crossing, the first crossing on this bridge was in 1848, the bridge is 580m long and has 23 arches, each 20m wide. We waited quite some time for the traffic lights to change before crossing as hire boats were navigating the four locks below.

Serignac Port - we moored in this port for one week.

Serignac Port
Serignac Port

 

We moored in Serignac, and spent a lot of time with David and Rosey this month, sharing meal's together, in many different ports some really good BBQ's.

During our time in Serignac and Buzet we visited Moissac hospital for injections and a scan of my right knee, visiting the consultant for the results a week later. Sadly my knee is getting worse. My consultant said to be very careful, as it's bone on bone. I am to have some painkilling injections, then a course of 3 weekly injections to try to build up a cushion, this will of course help the pain and perhaps keep me mobile. At some point an operation for a new knee will be needed. No cycling, walking, or jumping off at locks for now he said. I felt so frustrated at times.

Buzet-sur-Baise, we had two days rain causing damage to the canal banks.

Buzet Port
Buzet Port

 

Rain
Rain

The weather felt cold and damp to me for these two days, but it soon warmed up again and the sun shone again.

Dinning with Rosey and David on the patio in the port of Buzet for boaters to use.

Lunch in Buzet
Lunch in Buzet

 

We decided to do some sight seeing during our time in Serignac and Buzet we spent much time in the car touring. Visiting the Aquitaine and coast (no big long walks for me), I rested when in pain, gentle exercise when not was the order of the day from the consultant. David and Rosey joined us in Serignac by car. David helped us cruise on to Buzet, we decided not to cruise any further, why risk further damage to my knee. We made plans for David and Rosey to crew for us on our return. We stocked up with food and made our boat ready, to leave following morning. Our well laid plan's soon changed, we were forced to stay in Buzet a week longer, the canal was closed due to a leakage.

Alan, Beate on Grass Matinee join us in Buzet a visit from Lynn, Len and family too.

Alan, Beate and John
Alan, Beate and John

 

Lynn, Len and family
Lynn, Len and family

Wonderful mooring for entertaining at Buzet port, we enjoyed drinks or dinner here with many friends during our stay - this port makes you feel so welcome our extended stay during the closure was welcomed.

None stop rain and the canal closes due to a breach and a serious loss of water.

Canal de Garonne drained for emergency work
Canal de Garonne drained for emergency work

 

All navigation was halted, the canal between lock 38 and 39 a 7km pound had to be drained for emergency work to be carried out. The level's in Buzet dropped without problem to us. No water was being fed into the canal above lock 39. The canal was closed for 4 days.

Almost none stop rain for three days, the most rain we have seen all summer. Johnand I caught up with work on the boat, I was able to well rest my knee well during this time.

This fruit growing area, was filled with full tree's all being picked, we were able to taste fruit straight from the tree. The vines picked later.

River Baise - port of Nerac beyond the bridge - no boats moored here when we visited.

Day Trip out to the Pyrenees' visiting many villages along the way, starting with my favourite village of Nerac, we visited this village a number of times this month for shopping or just ice cream or coffee. we enjoyed driving following the river Baise.

A four hour leisure drive to our destination of Lourdes, we enjoyed stopping at interesting site's during our journey. Many different styles of buildings, such was the diverse and spectacular plants along our route - driving small rural roads and viewing many different villages, getting lost a few times was a highlight. A big highlight for me was young deer feeding - sadly I had no camera in my hand at the time.

 

View at Nerac
View at Nerac

Our visit to Rosary Basilica within the Sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes.

Our trip to Lourdes
Our trip to Lourdes

 

When I was growing up one of my teachers visited Lourdes, she came back with many stories of Lourdes. I promised myself one day I will visit, this place which gives hope to so many people.

Five million visitors with hope in their hearts, descend on Lourdes every year, more visitors than any other shrine in Europe I read. In France Lourdes is second only to Paris in the number of visitor beds.

I hope that I bring our visit of Lourdes to you through my own experience, sharing more photographs with you with another page of our trip.

See : Visiting Lourdes in the Pyrenees

Mont-de-Marsan, capital of the Landes department, I called this town my Lilac town.

Mont-de-Marsan, capital of the Landes department, I called this town my Lilac town

We enjoyed a visit to Mont-de-Marsan, John had cycled on part of this road, he saw lots of Deer when cycling, unfortunately on our drive a day later we did not see much wild life at all. We continued our drive through the vast forests which led us to the town of Mont-de-Marsan.

This town was in full bloom when we visited, so many different coloured purple flowers (purple being my favourite colour) displayed on all the bridge's, walk ways and in the squares, all over flowing with flowers, it was a pleasure to be visiting when all the flowers were in full bloom. I should imagine they will win awards for their displays of flowers, a great deal of hard work and planning - I say well done Mont-de-Marsan - I award you with the flower town of the month, no sign of Autumn here.

The village of Roquefort, but not where they make the cheese.

The village of Roquefort

The days are a little shorter now, some mornings the canal is covered with a lovely September mist. When the morning mist clears it's still very warm indeed, with lovely blue skies.

The tree's are changing colour and the leaves are beginning to fall, one morning a breeze covered the canal with a carpet of leaves, a truly wonderful golden colour.

When we were out driving this month especially in the forests the Autumn colour were so noticeable, so beautiful especially towards the end of the month when we cruised back with Rosey and David.

Lynn's birthday at "Le Moulin" was a great success - fancy dress with a theme dance

dance

 

dance

Happy moments from Lynn's party.

Happy moments from Lynn's party

 

We had the opportunity to visit Lynn, Len and Lynn's family, sharing her birthday again at Le Moulin, near Serignac, they also visited us at the boat in Serignac and Buzet. Lynn and guests provided all the entertainment, dancing, singing, music, we had a lots of fun and frivolity.

I was excused from performing any dance due to my knee, I did take part in dressing up which was great fun. I loved the home made dancing shoes Chris made and wore.

Lynn and her sister, gave a good performance of old English dances, to which her mum, dad, French neighbours and friends so enjoyed.

Dolphins and Porpoises frolicking in the warm waters offshore.

We enjoyed our days out in the car - visiting the Cote d'Argent a long, straight strip of coast line (Atlantic coast) extending south of the Gironde estuary with the well know northern stretch is Arcachon, we had afternoon tea here, a little expensive too, especially the properties around this area.

I am proud to say I made the 190 steps up the Dune with my sore knee, nothing would have stopped us climbing to the top, so worth the effort today, we almost stayed till sunset.

 

Bassin d'Arcachon postcard

Stunning views from summit of La Dune du Pilat - coast one side the forest the other.

Stunning views from summit of La Dune du Pilat

The Dune du Pilat is the largest sand dune in the whole of Europe, reaching an incredible height of 103 metres! It is also 2.5km long and 0.5km wide! It is believed to have started forming more than 5000 years ago and due to the movement in the sand is moving inland at around 7 metres every year! The forest they built in the eighteenth century to stop the sand dune sliding further is a wonderful sea of green also.

Picnic on the top of La Dune du Pilat, 8km south of Arcachon on the Atlantic coast

La Dune du Pilat

 

Picnic on the top of La Dune du Pilat

John and I enjoyed this trip enormously, felt very special sitting having our picnic so high up. Worth putting this dune on your list of places to visit if you are in this area - it's west of Bordeaux. A long car journey back to Buzet and our boat, but so worth this drive.

Damazan port

Meeting up with our friend Caroline in Damazan Port
Meeting up with our friend Caroline from Saint-Jean-de-Losne

A wonderful afternoon spent in Damazan port Caroline was visiting with her godfather Ernest for the afternoon - we had a wonderful time catching up. We look forward to seeing her again in Hong Kong were she now lives, she has offered to be our guide in Hong Kong - what a winter trip this will be. THANK YOU.

Canal de Garonne - September misty mooring, wonderful to cruise this time of year.

Mist on the Canal de Garonne
Mist on the Canal de Garonne

 

Misty mooring
Misty mooring

All too soon it was time to cruise back to Moissac.

David and Rosey joined us for 4 nights for our cruise back to Moissac. We very much enjoyed our cruise and spending time together with fantastic weather.

One or two locks we had two red lights which held us up a little till VNF arrived and all was working again. Rosey and I painted as we cruised, it was not easy for me to sit back and let our crew work the locks and ropes, so I worked hard in the galley too.

Andy and Barbara surprised us just in time for the Agen bridge crossing with enjoyable drinks before they drove John back to Serignac for our car.

Fun moments on the return journey on the Pont Canal d'Agen

 

Louise and Allan are home owners

 

Congratulations to Allan and Louise they became home owners this month, buying this lovely home in Canada, the house needs lots of renovation. We wish you both good luck with the move. Next is planning their wedding. We look forward to visiting you in your new home and helping you with the renovations.

The weather is certainly changing in Canada and getting colder Louise said, we feel lucky to still have lots of sunshine in the South of France.

Good Luck and happy cruising into your winter ports next month.

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