Monday, October 10, 2011

Cruising the Canal de Midi

Scott jogs ahead to the next lock to handle our lines.

The path along the canal is perfect for
walking or biking. You can see it's Fall!

We met few boats coming the other way - it's easier going

This view is from the second lock below
looking up at our boat 

Heading into the lock basin is a tight fit

Good view of our boat! The lock is being
emptied of water and we're headed down
not all sights on the Canal are sublime..
The Canal de Midi is part of the canal system that connects the two seas, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It is 240 kilometers long and runs from the Garonne in Toulouse to the Etang de Thau. It was built by Pierre-Paul Riquet and completed in 1681, unfortunately after he died, destitute after sinking all his money and energy into the project. His family did inherit the canal and ran it well until the French Revolution. Leondardo de Vinci was involved before Riquet! To help in the design, Riquet is said to have constructed a miniature canal in the grounds of his house, Bonrepos, complete with locks, weirs, feeder channels and even a tunnel. There are 91 locks, one tunnel and 40 aquaducts (these are bridges over streams, rivers or roads that carry the canal). We started the trip in Castelnaudry and ended at Port Cassifieres near the end of the canal. We took one lovely digression down the Canal de la Robine to Narbonne and on to the Isle Sainte Lucie nature reserve.
Our boat was from Le Boat, one of many large companies with boats all over Europe. It was fairly new, a Royal Classique, with comfortable quarters for 3 couples. Our first choice boat had three identical cabins but it burned down and they upgraded us one notch. Unfortunately it had one large stateroom and two small ones. All three had baths, although one was bigger. Scott and I were lucky to get the former and took everyone out to dinner to atone somewhat. Thank you guys for letting us have it! We had a pretty comfortable salon with a table for six inside and a big deck outside with another table. The galley was well equipped with a 3 burner stove and small oven. We rented 4 bikes (pretty basic), a BBQ and a lantern for rather steep extra charges.
We cooked all our meals aboard, but one dinner and a few lunches. Shopping in France for food was such a treat. Pretty much every morning someone went out for fresh croissants and rolls. Each couple was responsible for one day, shopping and cooking. We are all very good cooks and with the wonderful French ingredients the meals were amazing. A few examples: Bouillabaisse, Beef Bourginon, Roast Chicken, Grilled T bone steaks, sausages and Pork Chops, Artichokes, Spaghetti Bolognese and Primavera. That's just a few and doesn't include the wines, starters, vegetable dishes, salads and desserts. Needless to say I've gained more than a few pounds.
Some are to your taste, or not.

Some are funny.

And some ARE sublime...

Sunset on the canal

and sunrise. We spent the nights alone, tied up to the banks.

Entering the Malpas tunnel

This bridge in Narbonne almost looks like a tunnel!

Going over one of the many viaducts on the route

1 comment:

Nate said...

What a great experience! Love the pictures.