August 2007 Cruising to Aigues-Mortes

Harry says I am fed up in this dry dock are you nearly finsihed....soon Harry.

We started the month with John helping paint Barge Colibri, Fiona & I cooked. We moved from our mooring on the river Aude into the canal de Jonction as a storm threatened, which never happened, we have seen very little rain this month. We spent two nights in the port of Salleles-d'Aude after Fiona & Earl left.

John serviced the generator and over hauled the engine room. I worked on the web site followed by much domestic work to catch up on. I enjoyed a visit to the patchwork quilt museum in an old wine vat, near to the lock. A good visit for me to see all this wonderful very talented work on show. Stunning needle work and lots of art work from all over the world on display. So glad we came back to this canal again, I missed this visit first time around. Visited many art galleries and displays of art this month.

Pezza was towed from Capestang to Salleles-d'Aude dry dock Canal de Jonction.

We watched this 30m boat being towed passed our boat then into the lock at sunset, locks all kept open well after closing. Several people Towed this boat all the way from Capestang to the dry dock at the end of canal de Jonction, they needed a beer at the end of this day, what a hard job they had on.

The wonderful coast of Languedoc, much varied transport - great beach wheel bed/chair.

We have enjoyed cruising long days in wonderful sunshine, staying in different ports or just tied to a tree. We have cruised Le Somail to the end of canal du Midi 6 times so far (not planned). We love the variety of all the different villages & towns, and the wonderful coast line of Languedoc. We try not to moor in the same place. Except for Cassafieres Port friends live here. We enjoyed free mooring in Cassafieres, electric, water and free parking for our car. (usually moorings are 10 euros a night).

Free mooring in port Vias including electric and water. Mooring fees vary so much month to month port to port. Aigues-Mortes was our most expensive port this month 35 euro's a night for our 17 metre's. We stayed 12 nights and got a cheaper deal. Best to book a week even if you stay 3 or 4 nights it's cheaper to do that in some ports!

Fuelling Up in Port Cassafieres, Crown blue line base - Canal du Midi

We fuelled up, on our last visit in the port. 344 euros (1.40 Litre) to fill tank and spare containers, rather more expensive than we are used to paying, but worth not having any hassle. Castelnaudary was the cheapest fuelling stop we have made. A lot of boaters have fuel delivered to their boat, this is the cheapest way depending on how much you need, some boaters get together and order a tanker full. Supermarket fuel is 1.05 Litre at present here in France.

Malpas tunnel is a good stop over, good views from top of tourist information office, above tunnel.

Oppidum of Enserune an ancient hill fort, as early as the Vth century B.C. Gallic peoples gathered in these "oppida", fortified villages, built on hilltops. From Enserune we enjoyed a good panorama view over the plain, of canal du Midi, Malpas tunnel and the dried swamp of Montady.

We both enjoyed good walks, cycle rides and visiting new places. About 12 km of the canal-side path between Béziers and Portiragnes are paved, I enjoyed some really good cycling days.

Much waiting around at locks especially at the Béziers staircase. Many hire boats in queue since trip and hotel boats get priority for locks. The lock keeper's get an ear bashing sometimes, as boaters don't understand when lock gates close. We had many hold up's on our last return journey, due to hotel barges and trip boats, also an electrical fault at the Béziers lock did not help. Bliss again on the 54km stretch no problems with mooring for us this month.

Moet joins queue with other hire boats as trip boat then two hotel boats take priority.

Some boaters get really frustrated trying to get boats back - they plan their day without thinking of hold up's. It's not half as bad as the road's have been this month.

The Canal du Midi, built in the 17th century and still considered an engineering marvel. It's used mainly for pleasure boating between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean; between Bordeaux and Sète. In 1999, the Canal du Midi was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. You can see why as you explore this canal. The full length, once completed, was called the Canal des Deux Mers (the canal of two seas).

Round Lock of Agde - River Herault trip.

The lock d'Agde, east of Béziers, is the only round lock in the world. Regulating three waterways, the original lock was enlarged for the passage of bigger barges. We enjoy this different lock, though not always easy to moor in depending on how many boats. We have used each of the 3 exit gates - enjoying both sides of the river Herault - both ends of river are very different, one way was to Grau-d'Agde and out to sea. We enjoyed a wonderful early evening cruise to Bessan, green & lush filled with wild life this end of the river Herault, before returning to our mooring at Bagnas lock last lock on canal du Midi or first lock if you come from Etang de Thau.

Sunrise as we cross the Etang de Thau - local fishermen collecting in their early morning catch.

We enjoyed rising early at 5am (before wind gets up - see Oct 2005) we like to catch the sun as it rise's we love to see the wild life wake up and the fish jumping, just waiting to be caught. We crossed the Etang twice this month. Our first crossing was a little choppy and uncomfortable but our return was a such pleasure and a different experience all together so enjoyable especially when so calm, we carefully chose our day to return, fully exploring the internet for the right weather and time to cross it paid off.

Frontignan Port after the bridge - this was a good weather day for the Etang crossing no wind.

The canal du Rhone a Sete is 98km long from Sete to Beaucaire we traveled only as far as le Grau-du-Roi this year. We need to be back in Carcassonne for Sept. Our first stop on this canal is Frontignan. This is not one my favourite village- like D day waiting for good weather to cross the Etang. Has been our experience on each visit here. New road bridge opens only 4 times a day - for some hire boats it's nose to bridge waiting. (wrong time's are given in our cruise books so do check).

Commercial traffic - Closing Portes de gardes at river Vidourle on canal du Rhone a Sete

Some big commercial traffic use this canal, when we moored on pin's at Villeneuve-les-Maguelonne we had three pins bent double. (we need stronger pins making). We enjoyed our stay here other wise - free tourist train to beach and a nice cycle ride to Abbaye de Maguelonne we cycled to village on our last stay enjoyed exploring another new beach this time.

At Cabanes-du-Roc at narrow part of canal this was closed off to boats after we had passed through. Two big commercial boats were heading our way and taking up most of the canal, thankfully they were going very slow, but still we were pulled in towards them. VNF used a barrage across the canal to stop other boats. Same day we experienced the canal flood gates closing (see above) as we approached the crossing for the river le Vidourle. Thankfully they only closed for one hour for maintenance work which is carried out every 15 days.

Etang du Mejean teams with bird life even though planes fly low across here into Montpellier

We enjoyed some good stop over's on this long almost straight canal with beaches to one side lakes on the other side. We enjoyed visiting many sea ports i.e. Carnon, Palavas-les-Flots, (river Lez entrance).

We enjoyed exploring the Camargue by car finding hidden places. So much to see and do in this area it's impossible to see all what is on offer.

We tasted some of the best sea food we have ever eaten in this area. We have been very adventurous with food this month, trying different foods also cooking lots of new gastronomic dishes. Found some good red wines in this area too.

View of the Moet Chandon & Chatelaine from the Ramparts of Aigues-Mortes

Aigues-Mortes (dead waters) established in 1248 was built like a raft on flat countryside, still intact due to it's isolation. Stunning views from every window of our canal boat and these wall's, the changing light of the day brought my camera out so many times during our stay. The climb up ( 11 metre high wall's) to get this photo was well worth the tiny steps, the sentry-walk wall's are 1,634 metres long, it was way past closing time so we never did managed the walk all the way around as we started late.

We had many meal's just watching the light change on the wall's of the cite. The water changing colour or the flamingoes in flight at sunset - this was a good sight to see on the river Lez as they flew so low.

Aigues Mortes our view from the Tour de Constance tower, (33m) completely encircled by walls.

Friends Janet & Des were here to greet us with a great mooring.They are in their second summer of mooring here, we know why they stay, it's very atmospheric place to be in the summer. We stayed a total of 12 nights (7 days + returned for another 5 days).

We crossed the railway lines that evening (not a busy line) to enter one of the 10 gates into the cite always brought the child out in us, as we went out for a night in the town.

This cite is very different to Carcassonne as it's not just for tourist's many local's live within these walls and it has a really good community. Lots of good and reasonable priced restaurants here. Houses are expensive within the wall's. New homes being built around a new modern marina with good moorings for owners. Do you want a wonderful sailing boat ready with winter moorings in Capestang

Friends sailing boat 'Ali M' is for sale 85.000 euros

We first met Bernie & Warren on 'Ali M' (for sale) in Aigues Mortes. We pulled into this port same time, both of us were texting Des & Janet of our arrival. We pulled in same time with 6 inches to spare as we pulled into our mooring spaces. We also met Mick on 'Merlin 2' who also arrived from Arles. We enjoyed some very good meals out together and some good BBQ's during our stay.

Sheila & Julie on Chatelaine joined us a few days later in the port. Sadly Julie was unwell and Sheila was very worried so a doctor was asked to visit boat. All was well after right medication, enjoyed holiday.


We let the train pass - taking no chances as crossing

Sandra & David we first met at Cassafieres Port after admiring our boat and asking if it was for sale "sorry we said". We invited them to join us in Aigues-Mortes for lunch and an afternoon on the Moet. They drove from Perpignan (2 hours away) to have a closer look at our boat, asking us many questions about having a boat built similar to the Moet. Since their visit with us they have been in touch with Ledgard Bridge boat builders ( who built our boat) booking a building spot for next year, they visit boat yard next month - good luck to you both.

It was nice to share our experience with Sandra & David, to hear all about their dream boat which is now on the drawing board. They kindly took John back to Cassafieres Port so John could collect our car - sadly it took John more than two hours to drive back due to heavy traffic along the coast. We have been passing on information to other boaters wishing to boat in France - we are happy to pass on e-mail's so others can share their research regarding bringing a boat to France.

Fluvial magazine's journalist Florence - is very happy taking photo's of our cruise.

We arrived back to our boat after a site seeing trip one day to find a note inside our front door. "I would like to write an article on your boat for France Fluvial magazine would this be possible to write your story?. I think your boat is stunning signed Florence".

We telephoned and arranged an appointment to meet Florence a few days later. At 2pm on Sunday she arrived a little late due to roads and awful traffic. She left us around 7.30pm it was an exciting day. Florence took many photographs throughout the afternoon. John & I felt like model's, not always easy to hold the boat in the spot she wanted for the best photo. Wishing we had spruced the boat, we had no idea it would take so long.

One of our mooring spots in Aigues Mortes Port what a view we had over the cite and salt pans.

We thoroughly enjoyed our 1st cruise from Aigues-Mortes to the charming fishing port of Grau du Roi, (18th century), the wonderful bright colours of the Camargue the wild animal's and plant life all around in the lagoons and near the salt pans.

Friends kindly guarded our mooring spot while we were out having our photo shoot with Florence. We were so very lucky to be able to cruise right back into same spot. On our return we were invited as 'royal celebrities' onto Des & Janet's boat to tell them the tale about our new modeling career. We enjoyed another unexpected fun day then fell into bed.

We will wait and see if we appear in the Fluvial magazine in Sept/Oct issue - will let you know. July/August edition Florence had front cover story on a hotel boat.

See Next Page for family visit in and around the Camargue also cruising to river Lez

We sadly departed sunny Aigues-Mortes and headed back to the canal Rhone a Sete, across the Etang (bliss) and into canal du Midi. Enjoyed long cruising days again in the wonderful sunshine, enjoying some peaceful nights on our own with just the wild life and nature.

Our first stop when crossing the Etang is always to stop over night before the first lock on the canal du Midi "Bagnas lock" for us this is a wonderful place to stay so peaceful here. We enjoyed time here with Warren & Bernie "Ali M" they had been moored here for two days after a dreadful crossing on the Etang, water coming over their boat. We enjoyed cycling into Agde town from here for meat for a shared BBQ and of course a beer stop and Bernie & I went clothes shopping in the sales. We cruised together to Villeneuve they arrived first and saved us a good mooring.

We found moorings for sightings of black bull's, wild horses, flamingoes, and storks nests.

Warren and Bernie drove us to Aigues Mortes for our car the roads were busy. We spent the day with Des, Janet, Mick enjoying the Medieval Festival. We enjoyed a pizza together on this special day - offers of beds to say over came from Mick & Janet & Des. Warren decided to stay with Mick (to watch Rugby together). John, myself and Bernie drove back to find Ursula & Mike on Bon Adventure had arrived in Villeneuve port - lots of celebration. It was so nice to be together again. Ursula & Mike are on their way to Aigues-Mortes as they have been included in a barge festival here end of September.

St Louis - Medieval festival spread over three days in and around the Cite walls.

Feast of St. Louis fall's on the 4th Sunday in August. Processions were evoking the days of the Crusades and the King's departure filled the streets. In the town many people were pressing to to see the spectacle of participants in period costumes representing the King, his court, soldiers, Crusaders, religious Brotherhood's all these anachronistically mixed together to make a fete. A wedding took place as Bernie Janet & I sipped our 5 euro a pint homemade lemonade in the square ( cooling us off) the price brought on a hot flush... lots of live music was played during our stay in this town.

Swimming in sea at Grau d'Agde

Our three boats together, Ursula & Mike, Warren & Bernie, John & I spent time together in Villeneuve- Béziers moored at the camp site under the trees (4 euros per night with electric). We enjoyed meals & BBQ's also played boules during our 5 days here.

A car trip to Allemand boat yard with Ursula and Mike to buy supplies for the boats. Ursula & Mike cancelled their lift for this year and will now be lifted out next year.

We had a 3 course lunch out on the river catching up with all our news of the year - watching the fishing boats come in with their catch of the day. Ursula & I enjoyed a really good swim in the sea later in the afternoon.

Grau d Agde is my favourite beach spot on this coast line. We shopped in Agde and arrived back for another BBQ with Warren & Bernie who had cycled to the beach near Villeneuve also enjoying keeping cool in the sea. Bernie this month introduced me to their 9am walks/Jog she and Warren enjoy jogging early, I am not that fit YET.

Tiger Prawns on BBQ a wonderful meal we shared two nights running it was so good.

We said our good byes after a wonderful few days together - sadly the weather did change for the last few days of August we had a sort lived storm with some wind and rain - jackets came out as it felt chilly after such high temperatures.

John and I enjoyed a few days reading and catching up with domestic chores and of course I enjoyed my time end of month writing our web site so wind was good for me - sadly John hates the wind makes him grumpy. Oh she blows when she comes, you can tell we are back on canal du Midi. We have a problem with our oil pressure gauge and needed help - Ledgard Bridge was most helpful - we now need a new gauge ASAP.

We ended the month near Le Somail, Canal du Midi - Heading towards Carcassonne