April 2008 Cruising Canal du Midi and Canal de Garonne

Cruising the Canal du Midi from Negra to Toulouse.

Steve steering Moet

Niece Melanie and Steve wrapped up well and enjoyed our cruise from Négra to Toulouse.

First lock of the month broken down! - I thought it was an April fool joke. We waited patiently for an engineer to arrive. The cause, an electrical fault, thankfully this was fixed in no time, so we proceeded.

The Canal du Midi near Toulouse was closing for major repairs for two weeks, we needed to make Toulouse before this closure. We enjoyed cruising this month with Bon Adventure, lots of fun with Ursula & Mike.

Ursula managed to book us into Toulouse port, even though most boats were still in their winter berth. It was nice to be back in this port again. John cycled back later for our car.

The Canal du Midi, has been in existence for more than 300 years

Steve navigated through this bridge he was rightly pleased with himself, not easy taking Moet for the first time, but he kept his nerve here. I ducked some low bridges.

Pierre-Paul Riquet

This canal was designed & constructed by Pierre-Paul Riquet between 1667 and 1681, with the help of about 12,000 workers, who dug out 7,000,000m3 of earth to connect Toulouse and Sète. This represents 240km (150miles) of canal, built using only manpower. I guess Paul Riquet would have enjoyed some of the equipment they are using now a days (see below photo).

We waited a short while for the workers to stop & the diver was safely out - we could pass.

As we cruised into Toulouse a 20 km of straight canal which does not compare to the rest of the Midi, but we do find coming into and out of large towns is not the most picture post card - but usually the best cycle paths are to be found around major towns.

Toulouse Port Saint-Sauveur

Steve created this wonderful drawing of Bon Adventure for Mikes birthday - we all enjoyed party celebrations on the Moet when we arrived in Toulouse - That evening we also enjoyed a good India meal out in the town, with coffee in one of the many squares here. It was so good Ursula & Mike went back following day for another meal.

Port Saint-Sauveur is close to the centre of Toulouse and although (a little) noisy is well run by Sylvianne, it is a very clean and very secure Port. I advise you to book this port in advance. We stopped here three nights.

John cycled back for our car and left it here in the gated port, we needed the car for airport runs. Our mooring was next to another boat, and Melanie and bump had to clamber, not ideal for her but port was full.

Melanie & Steve enjoyed last night in the city of Toulouse 3rd largest city in France

The Canal du Midi ends in Toulouse which leads into the Canal de Garonne which mostly follows the Garonne river. We sampled the special sausages cooked in lentils. Toulouse 's violet liqueur which is very nice in bubbly wine, a lot of culinary specialties here are made out of violet, we all enjoyed this liqueur on the Moet for Mikes birthday. The jams here are wonderful. Steve wanted to sample snails before they left... we managed to buy some ready prepared for lunch, sadly they were not eaten, (we forgot them) they will have to come back again.

We drove Mel & Steve to the airport on the far side of the city. A smooth flight home for them both.

Daughter Louise & partner Allan were almost swept away when they arrived in Carcassonne Cite.

John & I had very little time before our daughter arrived. We needed to shop for wine and provisions and make the Moet ready, before driving to Carcassonne airport early the following morning - picking up Louise & Allan - spending five days with us after a very busy & hectic holiday in England.

We spent our first day in Carcassonne - it was very windy here. Alan enjoyed his visit to this historic cite, we later lunched in the port and met up with some friends. Before driving back to Toulouse port an hour away.

Thankfully the weather changed - Louise & Alan enjoyed good weather for cruising from Toulouse to Castelsarrasin 63kms This French canal dates from the 19th century and connects Toulouse to Bordeaux. It is the continuation of the Canal du Midi which connects the Mediterranean with Toulouse. Together they now form the Canal des Deux Mers which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

Cruising Canal de Garonne from Toulouse to Moissac.

That bridge looks small !!!

Canal de Garonne was our next cruise. Captain Allan cruised this canal. Alan enjoyed taking the tiller and navigating the boat through a narrow part of the canal, not an easy task, he did very well. Bon Adventure stayed well back first few kilometres.

The Canal de Garonne, until recently was called the Canal latéral à la Garonne - it is 194 km long with straight sided locks - they were extended in 1970 from 30 metres to 40m all electrified, (the Midi locks were never extended). We had some friendly lock keepers working and they pushed the buttons for us along the way.

The locks are open this month from 9am to 6pm and close for lunch at 12.30 to 1.30pm even though they are electric.

Mooring on the Canal de Garonne.

Lock keeper, a friend of Ursula's moored us both alongside his boat and was very helpful indeed. It was strange spending the night in the middle of the canal... no boats coming said the lock keeper who is a friend of Ursula & Mikes - he made us all very welcome indeed. We did not want to out stay our welcome so we left early the next morning. Enjoyed a very peace full night after the hussle & bussle of Toulouse. Nice to be back in the country side again

Automated locks on the Canal de Garonne.

The automated locks on the Canal de Garonne are worked with a twist stick & traffic a lights system. Louise interrupted lunch to work the hanging stick we needed to twist to let the automated lock know we are waiting to enter. This task was worked from the bow of the Moet on this occasion.

Towards Montech village the canal is most enjoyable and towards Castelsarrasin, very pretty. This canal has a charm of its own in places and unlike canal du Midi is not so crowded. Locks are straight-sided and straight-forward.

We met only two other boats on this part of the canal, it was very quite indeed. Louise loves sitting up front enjoying a glass of wine and relaxing especially with Allan.

Daughter Louise & I enjoyed strolling from lock to lock the weather was good.

We had excellent free mooring in Montech, just outside a very fine restaurant. Highly recommend a stop here. It is near the first lock of five, (see photo above) which is also the entrance to the famous water slope, and the Montauban branch canal. We have not yet navigated this branch saving this for our return journey. Nice walks along the towpath past the lock, especially with all the bluebells at this time of year.

Louise & Allan enjoyed a Leg of Lamb cooked by dad on the BBQ

Louise & Allan needed relaxation & lots of fresh air....we were able to eat most of our meal's outside on the boat- six of us had lunch up on our top deck, we had a wonderful time together. We also enjoyed showing them the countryside and visited Moissac by car from Montech, it was a little cold that day though.

Castelsarrasin, early morning sunrise sky.

Ursula's early morning sunrise sky in Castelsarrasin as our guests depart in the sky.

We enjoyed a chinese meal out in Castelsarrasin for our last evening with Louise & Allan before driving them back to Toulouse for a very long flight back to Toronto. First flight was cancelled... it was a long haul for them sadly. Ursula captured this sky perfectly... to tell the tale.

We enjoyed staying on in this port for a few more days. Great market here on a Thursday. We had a good time here with Ursula & Mike strolling, lots shopping. Ursula bought a new camera and we had lots of time to take photographs together, she took some great photographs she was lost without her camera. We enjoyed some good meals & evenings out here.

Castelsarrasin Port.

The port is in a large basin, we were moored on the key with Bon Adventure along side us.

Castelsarrasin, situated on the left bank of the Canal de Garonne and about a mile from the right bank of that river, surrounded by promenades occupying the site of the old fortifications.

John cycled many kilometres around this lovely area. Its chief building is the brick-built church of St Sauveur, which dates from the 13th century.

Cheap moorings are to be had in this town, which is run by the tourist office in the port. A good boat yard run by Bernard - who measured up & promised to make a stainless steel ladder to access our deck. We wait & hope!

Afternoon tea & strawberries - just picked... shared with friends of Ursula & Mike.

With in a minute of this afternoon tea party being photographed we had to run for cover as did most of this town as a storm came from no where. We had a few of these storms this month - mostly at night thankfully, it filled the rivers which were flowing fast due to all the rain fall in the hill's - it was tropical stormy weather.

My art teacher in Moissac is Patricia Blanchet

Patricia Blanchet

We cruised on to Moissac port enjoying a very warm welcome from friends including Jan & John "Blackbird fly" who were moored here. We spent our first week entertaining & being entertained. Especially catching up with all Kaz & Iain news. One of my favourite ports.

I thoroughly enjoyed the arts festival weekend 18th 19th 20th - I was able to fit in some art lessons with Patricia, whom I met two years ago here in her gallery. She had no free space for lessons then. Patricia speaks good English which helps. I do so admire her work and talent. She is a good professor, one French lady described her ability, I agreed.

John really enjoyed time to go cycling especially his desire to get fitter - he is cycling around 30 - 50km to collect car or just cycling in the hills.

12th Fete des Arts in Moissac

Some wonderful street paintings sadly washed away be the rain.

Ursula & Mike stayed on in Castelsarrasin for another week. Though we were back and forth with the car. I was sad Ursula could not join me for some art lessons but pleased we were having a day together to explore all the art in Moissac for the final day of the art festival - It was sadly not meant to be a storm came and washed away all the street art.

We spent the day in a restaurant lunching followed by afternoon tea - early drinks in a bar till the rain stopped, then I drove Ursula & Mike back to Castelsarrasin.

River Tarn in flood at Moissac.

I felt very nervous as I took many photographs of the Tarn in flood I was too close for comfort.

Moissac (population of 12,326) lies on a lateral canal of the Garonne and on the Tarn, which flows into the Garonne River 4km below the town. The Tarn flooded middle of April. I was happy taking many photographs on my walks along the Tarn - A flood in 1932 caused much damage to this town, washed away many old buildings.

In the north of the town is the church of St-Pierre (12th and 15th C.), which belonged to a Benedictine abbey founded in the seventh C. and dissolved in 1790. They built the railway so close to this Abbey, I wonder what buildings were perhaps lost. On its south side is a magnificent Romanesque doorway which is very impressive indeed with all it's carvings.

Many bars restaurants and art shops in the main square nice place to people watch and enjoy coffee, especially on Sundays, market day.

Ursula & Mike - Bon Adventure arrive into Moissac Port - we enjoyed art & getting ready for the boat jumble.

Success du premier vide bateau (boat jumble sale).

Friends Kaz & Iain successfully run the hire base here in Moissac port. Together they arranged their first boat jumble, asking boaters in the port to take part.

Kaz thought it would be a good idea to try to sell my photography & art cards on the day. Kaz also asked Ursula's to sell her paintings and together we had a table each. Ursula & I went off shopping for some food for later, John was photographed and appeared in the local newspaper selling cards.

Everyone in the port cleared their unwanted items from their boats, and made some money.

Many gatherings on the Moet & Moissac port during our stay.

At the end of the day we all shared food & drinks and a nice social gathering happened out side Iain & Kaz office. The day was a success. I had a few orders for personal photography cards.

We met so many people moored here - or moving to the area, or like Glyn & Angie who bought land to build three houses...so a busy social scene was set for the next couple weeks.

We met Mick & Karen in this port, Mick helped me choose a new lap very helpful indeed, we had good Wi-Fi in the port which for me is magic. John laptop shopping, when in England! I was having such a lot of problems with my (dropped) laptop. Mike & Karen also placed my first order for personal cards of both boats together in the port.

Karen & Mick - The Fleet

Having seen some of Irene's excellent cards in the Capitainerie office at Moissac, I asked her if she'd take some photos of our boats and make up some cards for us. Irene took some lovely photos and made some really fantastic cards - we live on one boat and have just bought an old barge to renovate so the cards are jokingly entitled 'The Fleet at Moissac!' Mick and I are thrilled to have such beautiful and personal cards to send to our friends and family and I know they will be delighted to receive them.'

Moissac Port as we arrived

This photograph I took may be used for a postcard

John went to England for a few days for our friend Peters retirement celebrations, looking forward to seeing many of his friends. Not a good start John was delayed 7 hours in Bergerac airport due to a bird flying into the plane on landing. No damaged but Ryanair wanted to be sure the plane was safe. John was having a manic time in Leeds, Manchester & Liverpool with family & friends all un planned.

I enjoyed my art classes (master piece to come. I managed to book four lessons so far). I enjoyed painting some greetings cards here, I love the ambiance of this picturesque town & the wonderful walks along the river, the trees changed every day on my walks.

A few days on my own in Moissac with friends all around was most enjoyable. I enjoyed driving to Bergerac and then exploring the river Lot - I hope we do manage to cruise this wonderful river. Running just a little too fast just now.