July 2009 Cruising from Etang de Thau to Toulouse

Tranquil days on the Canal du Midi - We cruised a bliss full 320km this month.

Villeneuve lockVilleneuve lock

This month John and I cruised the length of the canal du Midi from Etang de Thau to Toulouse, then continued on the Canal de Garonne to Moissac. We enjoyed seeing locks in full bloom, botanical gardens one boater called the locks, a great deal of time and effort over the years have gone into the plants and trees in many of the locks.

A few of the lock houses are now cafe's also selling local wine or their own local produce from their garden. We found fewer hire boats on the canal this season, we enjoyed most of the locks to ourselves except for Beziers and Carcassonne locks. Fruit trees were in abundance, eating fresh figs and plums straight from the tree's.

Brother-in-law John checking out the sailing boats for sale on Etang de Thau in Marseillan

Sailing boat in Marseillan

We greeted my Sister Kathy and husband John in Perpignan airport - they joined us for a weeks cruise - we visited the Etang de Thau in particular Marseillan village, checking out a holiday let here for their family holiday next summer. We had an ideal chance to spend a day in the car visiting some more of the Languedoc.

We showed Kathy and John the entrance to the canal du Midi, on The Etang, we visited the Herault river and the Greek town of Agde. Kathy and John hope one day to bring their sailing boat through the canal's from Wales en route to the sea's of the world.

Etang de Thau hire boats heading for the canal du Midi, nice calm sunny day.

Etang de Thau at Marseillan portEtang de Thau at Marseillan port

Etang de ThauEtang de Thau

Seafood lunch in Marseillan harbour set us up for the day - brother in-law John said the oysters from the Etang were really very good and nice and fresh - not for us thanks, it was a lovely way to commence the week.

We visited Marseillan beach for an evening stroll - you can tell it's July it was so busy here.

Marseillan beach

Nice to have a last dip and swim before John and I left this idyllic coastal area. We enjoyed drinks in "Camping Les Berges du Canal" where our boat was moored. Our friends back in Villeneuve-les-Beziers were waiting for us in the bar to bid a farewell (for now). On our departure from Villeneuve-les-Beziers as we approached the lock, Garry jumped out and started playing "When the saints go marching in" playing this song loudly at side of the canal, outside Mike and Jenny's house, friends came to wave us off, it was such a lovely gesture. We enjoyed a wonderful five week stay here.

Fonserannes Locks at Beziers

Fonserannes Locks at Beziers

Kathy and John are great crew, sailors themselves with rope experience is an added advantage, they are very keen to help. We are 17 meters and fit snug into the centre of the round locks on the canal du Midi - these locks can fill very quickly indeed, it can be a daunting experience for some boaters especially those not used to these locks - some locks do not have enough bollards in place. I was pleased to see this year new emergency ladders are now built into the locks.

We enjoyed our slow cruise to Carcassonne, especially the 57km pound with no locks. We tied to a tree one night dinner under the stars, enjoying lunch time stops in Capestang and Beziers en route.

We enjoyed the Tour de France passing through Beziers.

Tour de France passing through Beziers

We enjoyed the roar of the crowd cheering for the tour de France as they flashed by in the blink of an eye. I walked along the canal following our boat, I watched the crowds having such fun as the last of the bikes and parade pass by. It was great watching the children collect gifts thrown from the bus.

Welcoming Le Tour de France represents a chance for a community to find itself in the headlines for 24 hours as some towns accommodate the stopover of a small mobile town of approximately 4,500 persons, and organises a day of festivities for its resident, plus the spectators who travel, we were on our own boat as the parade passed by so great views.

Le Somail - boating has it's moments - grim or happy we would not swap the life.

John repairs the toilet


We enjoyed a BBQ most nights on our journey especially the one in Le Somail port - this port is not very far from Narbonne, due to lack of time and wanting to be in Carcassonne for the 13th we did not cruise the Canal de la Robine since we had cruised as far as Narbonne in June 2007.

Le Somail - much fun in the low bridges on the canal du Midi.

Le Somail PortLe Somail port on the Canal du Midi

Le Somail is a very pretty hamlet, full of artists with a funny hat museum over 6,500 hat here. I really enjoy stopping off in this port, with it's remarkable old ice-house next to the bridge. A unique book shop near the port that has approximately 50 000 second-hand books in stock in many different languages! A must stop if you want a book for your journey.

Malpas TunnelMalpas Tunnel 160m long

Capestang clock towerCapestang clock tower
(La tour de l'horloge de la Coll├ęgiale St Etienne)

BBQ with friends Sue and Chris near Ventenac en Minervois

Irene, Sue and KathyIrene, Sue and Kathy

Sue and Chris whom we met when they stayed over on the Moet in April when playing for Alan's 50th birthday party in Carcassonne - they invited us to join them in their summer home in Ventenac for a BBQ. We had a most enjoyable evening, especially visiting their castle in the garden. We also met Chris on Kimasut and Geoff and Evelyn on Sanity moored here. This port is good for stocking up on wine.

We cruised on enjoying good weather and our lunch time stops. Our cruise into Carcassonne was just magic, but this port was so very busy. It was a shock after the quietness of the canal so far.

Our arrival in Carcassonne, this felt like coming home, wonderful welcome from everyone

John and Irene in Carcassonne

Arrived in Carcassonne just in time for the fireworks on the 14th - sadly Kathy and John could not stay on - we drove Kathy and John back to Perpignan airport on the 13th. We managed to see some really good bands playing on our return.

We met up with lots of good friends during our stay here in Carcassonne. We found the port very noisy indeed, such a different place to be in the height of summer, but had wanted to be here for the festival.

La cite fireworks 14th July 2009 were really good, perhaps not the best we have seen

Carcassonne Fireworks 14th July 2009

2007 was the first time we enjoyed the fireworks, John and I felt this year the fireworks were not as stunning as 2007, music for me would add to the magic of the fireworks. Di and Clive watched the fireworks from the bank of the canal with friends they so enjoyed the firework show.

I think as many as 60,000 lined the river banks alone. such an amazing disco with a top DJ from Paris played in the park next to the port on the same evening, this did not start till midnight, we did not get very much sleep that night or the next. We were moored next to a club so decided to move on. We needed some peace on our own and some trees, we found this in Bram just before the port, BLISS.

Wonderful rainbow as we arrived in this new up graded port of Castelnaudary.

Rainbow over Castelnaudary port

We cruised through heavy rain which stared just as we entered the first of four locks on our arrival into Castelnaudary. We were wet through when we arrived with wet feet. A wonderful rainbow lit up the sky it crossed the whole of the lake on the other side of the bridge, I managed to get some lovely photographs, forgetting how wet and cold I was at the time.

Castelnaudary port was just about ready to show off its wonderful new port. Sadly we will not be mooring here in the future, for boats over 16 meters it is very expensive on a daily basis, but a good price for us in winter.

I think it is such a shame, they have made it so expensive, the port will miss out on live aboard's our size stopping here, it's now much cheaper to stop in the hire base on the lake (a protected site) if they have space.

We met many web site fans throughout our journey either on private boats or hire boats

We met Jean-Denis and Gina from Switzerland, both great web fans, Gina reads our web site to her grandchildren every Tuesday back home in Switzerland - hope you enjoy sharing this photograph Gina with your family and grandchildren - Gina and family have been boating on an ex-hire boat for 20 years in the north of France, a dream to bring their boat south, so it was so nice to meet up

Gina and Jean-Denis brought with them a bottle of bubbles to share with us should we meet up, a gift of some web briquette for our cobb BBQ - it was a joy to hear how they were finding cruising on this canal. It was nice to hear good comments about this site.

Our next cruise and stop over was the port of Le Segala we stayed on here for two nights. We enjoyed some nice social evenings in this quiet port. Fiona and Earl came for dinner with us here in Le Segala, so nice to catch up with them, it could be some time before we meet up again they have a very busy summer ahead of them.

We enjoyed dinner with friends in one house and seeing renovations on their next project

David picked us up from Negra port it was a delight to be a passenger in this wonderful car.

Renault 4cv cabriolet1956 Renault 4cv cabriolet

It was almost a year since we were in le Segala - David and Allison had just got the keys to their property above which is on the quay - They have worked so hard the last two summers, taking the house back to it's original wall's with help from family, finding a straw wall within this house, (over 250 years old). There is so much history in this house they wish to preserve. David kindly picked us up a day after we had moved on - we were moored in Negra, we had a super night with them, we drove our car back to the port. We look forward to seeing the house again next year. GOOD LUCK.

The wind in the Languedoc does not seem to effect these strong Sunflowers like it does John.


I so enjoyed cycling (not my poor knee) off into the fields of sun flowers and taking photographs, especially on this windy day, whether we were traveling along the canal or road, the wonderful fields of yellow looking towards the sun, these fields were all the way to Moissac.

John looked forward to leaving the canal du Midi and the wind, as you all know he hates the wind. I think it helps to blow all the cob webs away - we did have a few windy days and storms this month. The weather was much better on the coast we hear from friends.

Lovely moorings in Renneville just in front of the lock - Our mooring with friends in Negra

Mooring in RennevilleMooring in Renneville

Mooring in NegraMooring in Negra

These two ports (around 10k a part) are lovely stop overs on the canal du Midi. It's always nice to try different ports, thought it means just traveling a few kilometres, this is beauty of the Canal du Midi is you can do just that, or pull over and tie to a tree as long as no access path is crossed with your ropes.

BBQ with Alan and Beate in port of Negra

Negra portNegra Port

We met up again with Alan and Beate in Negra port. A storm and the wind kept both boats here for two nights. We enjoyed shared meals together and stocking up on our shopping.

Beate and I cycled together as we cruise the last 27 Km's into Toulouse. We stay just one night in Toulouse with them before ending our cruise on the Canal du Midi. The locks are straight and automated from now on. It was a colourful journey with flowers all along the canal side very pretty, lovely photographs of some wonderful buildings.

John moved our car on since their is no parking now in the port of Toulouse sadly.

Moet Chandon and Grasse Matinee Free, traveling into Toulouse together.

Moet Chandon and Grasse Matinee Free, traveling into Toulouse together

Sunflower fields in the MidiSunflower fields in the Midi

This will be Alan and Beate's winter mooring along with other friends too, sadly we missed Janet and Des by days, they were due back from Ireland. Carcassonne port may not be opening this winter, due to work being carried out in the basin, everyone booked in here for this winter now has to find alternate moorings for the winter.

Toulouse Port, Peter on Angelique waving as we leave our mooring.

Toulouse Port


We always enjoy our stay in Toulouse though this year it was just an overnight stay, we were on our way to a party in Moissac. We met up with Peter and Jill again on "Angelique".

Peter has started a mailing list, which has been created to facilitate the transfer of information between boaters cruising the Canal du Rhone à Sete, Canal du Midi and Canal de Garonne.

Bayard lock outside Toulouse railway station, straight locks from here, fully automated.

Bayard lock outside Toulouse railway stationBayard lock outside Toulouse railway station

Lock lights Toulouse

These locks are worked by a twist system - with the locks worked by VNF staff via a camera system. It took us around one hour to do the last three straight locks on the Canal du midi.

Last bridge on canal du Midi. Toulouse it's a sharp right after this bridge for the Garonne canal.

Last bridge on the Canal du Midi in ToulouseLast bridge on the Canal du Midi in Toulouse

We came to the end of our journey on the canal du Midi and our journey through the Languedoc area, I personal could start it all over again, we have so enjoyed cruising this month, whether this was for an hour or a long day. July showers did not dampen our travel and thankfully most of these were during the night, except for Castelnaudary as I said - John is glad he's leaving the wind of the Midi canal John now looks forward to a lot more cycling next month. Though John has enjoyed cycling up to 70km for the car - keeping him young and fit, looking to make it 100kms next month.

Congratulations on your engagement Louise and Allan

Daughter Louise and Allan were engaged on holiday, Louise said it was such a romantic moment, they recorded this for us with this photograph - ringing us later to share this good news. Much excitement now looking for a house and choosing a date for their wedding which will take place in Canada next year. so much has been discussed this month, seeing what month would be best for the family to take holidays and travel to Canada.

John and I opened a bottle of Champagne and toasted their happiness, we look forward to sharing in this exciting time for them both. Much happiness to you both.

The next part of our journey, the Canal de Garonne to Moissac Port and a surprise party.