Day 3 & 4 – The Canal

Two more days on the canal.   Quite enjoyable.  We are always near the train tracks, road and towns, but you feel as if you are out.  We did spend the night in the port at Castlenaudry with electricity, water, showers (we have them on the boat, but they are wet showers better for spit baths), laundry and a town right there.

The port at Castlenaudry. We are teh 3rd boat on the right.

Day 3: Le Segala – Castelnaudary.  5 locks, one a triple, one a double.  10 KM.   Some chippy chippy (very light rain but not a problem.)  Some wind in the morning but it died down and most of the day was lovely.

Jim was finally off the boat! I was getting ready to head into the lock (after Jim cam back on the boat!)

I took a turn piloting the boat once it calmed.  Not too bad and I did a couple locks.  But, I am still happy to turn the boat back to Jim when the wind comes up.

A pretty scene from the port at Castlenaudry looking the the “great basin” and the quad lock – 4 locks where you go from one lock directly into another.

We had a lovely lunch in Castlenaudry with duck breast, warm goat cheese salad, lovely sausages and foie gras, ….. and then headed oyt for cassoulet for dinner.  Yikes, we only needed 2 salads for the 4 of us and ditto on the cassoulet.  We now have enough for 3 dinners in our boat frig.  But, it was yummy!

Some locks are not manned and you push buttons to operate the locks, Most have a lock keeper that operated the lock. Usually he has a little belt with the controls on his waste.

Day 4:  Castelnaudary – past Bram.  12 locks, one quad, one triple, several doubles plus 4 or 5 singles.  The day started out with the quad lock.  The locks open at 9 am as does the office where you must collect the “held” passport.  Thus, 4 boats race to the lock (which holds 4 boats).  Lock 1, lock 2, lock 3, lock 4.  We’ve cleared the lock.  (Is a quad lock 1 or 4???  We are still trying to figure that out.

We were the last boat into the 1st lock of the quad lock.

There were a bunch of locks; the quad, then a double, then a triple.  We would go from lock to lock, enter, then leave.  It became tedious and so stopped for lunch to let them move ahead.  Much faster to head to a lock solo.

The lock has drained but the canal continues to flow through the closed lock. Sometimes it is rather active.

Weather was nice with a little chippy chippy, … then, it started drizzling, then started raining a bit more.  I was about ready to call it quits, when the weather got better.  Yeah!

In the rainy mode.  We can steer from inside, but we were in the middle of all the locks.

 

Stopped for the night in the “French toolies”  (read that, a town near by but lots of trees and seemingly private.)  Lovely.  Drinking wine, beer, eating chevre, olives, playing with our devices….  Yikes!  time to stop that!

Lots of interesting boats on the canal.

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Cruising the Canal

On the Canal Du Midi – southern France.  Built in 1681 and connects the French Mediterranean to the Atlantic near Bordeaux – 155 miles in length.  The purpose was to transport goods through southern France.  Sort of like an Eric Canal in France, but earlier.  We will only be traveling 118 (~73  miles.)

On the Canal with our friends Mark and Jennifer.  We’ve been talking of doing some sort of canal cruise for years.  The timing fit.

Captain Jim, Jennifer and Mark

Day 1:  Got on the water about 2 at Negra and ended the day in Gardouch – 5 KM!.  Almost an immediate lock to get our fear factor started.  A total of 3 locks, one a double; you go into a lock, it fills and you exit into a 2nd lock.  So far all our locks have had a lock keeper that opens and closes the locks, or there are buttons you push to open or close and it does it automatic activity.

Our first lock at Laval.

 

A double lock. We are in the first lock, see the 2nd lock directly in front of us. We have to climb to the European Continental Divide, then down to the Med.

Day 2:  Gardouch to Le Segala  – 15KM.   5 locks , 1 double.  We are getting better at it – pretty easy.  Today we had a “lock-butddy”; if two boats want to go at the same time, they fit you all in.   Our buddy and his wife were all alone on the boat which is harder.  They were having lots of trouble with their boat in the wind.  At one point, Jim jumped across to help them.

Our “lock-buddy”. He had the boat in good shape now. The entrances are not very big.

You can tie up to the bank wherever you want.  It is Sunday and many places are closed so luckily we have food on the boat.  We did bike in the 25 MPH winds into a little tow and had a love Serrano type and butter sandwich on a very lovely baguette.

A baugette machine outside our lunch stop. They had just filled it. .90 Euros for a great baguette.

Battery running low.  No shore power until tomorrow.

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The Long Winding Road

Our visit to the Loire was short but wonderful.  We could spend much more time there!  Perhaps a little vacation rental for a bit????   Study French??? A few Chateau’s, our Troglodyte Cave B&B, wonderful food, wine tasting and very interesting gardens.  All in 3 days.  Quite action packed.

I was a bit surprised to see cliffs, but should not have been. Made me feel at home.

On to Sarlat in the Dordogne.  More mountainous, still very lush and many tall cliffs.  We are shocked how many little villages there are.  Living in wide open, dry country, the number of people, the number of villages and the prosperity is a bit mind boggling.

Just one more cure old building!

It is “sad” that one begins to get a little too used to “another cute village” or “another lovely stone building”.  Very relaxing though.

The Dordogne is the “home” of the prehistoric caves.  Many of them are no longer open to the public for preservation reasons.  But!  we managed to visit Font du Gaume, purportedly the best cave still visit-able.  Only about 50 folks per day.  I can’t show you any pics as they don’t allow them.  Quite impressive and moving.

All I can show you is the entrance to Font du Gaume.

Little is known about the people who created these paintings.

Canoeing on the Dordogone; a lovely relaxing day with gorgeous weather.

La Roque-Gageac, an impressive little village we saw from our canoe. a one road town along the river that regularly floods when central France gets heavy rain.

A quick visit to Albi (perhaps the best scenery of the trip along the way from Sarlat to Albi) to see the Toulouse-Latrec museum.  I’ve always liked his work but was really moved by his paintings and drawings.  Much more powerful that I’d expected.

We have now met up with our friends Mark and Jennifer and are on our pinnochette on the Canal-du-Midi.  More on that hopefully tomorrow!

 

 

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On the Move

We have been in Brittany for a few days.   Really very nice. I was drawn to it because of it’s ancient Celtic roots and the fact they are feisty.  Stayed in the lovely medieval town  of Dinan.   Lovely people – as they have been everywhere – great food and a nice walled inner town.  Some of the building here… the most amazing….

Huge beams and posts. Very hard to imagine how these buildings have lasted and are still used.

We traveled around a bit from here – visiting the costs, parts remind me a bit of the Pacific coast, rugged (rainy – well mostly misty).

Pieces were very rugged, and then a beautiful sandy beach. In July and August, this area is a big tourist resort area. Have to wait for it to warm up!

St. Malo (the bad Saint???) is an interesting town and close to Dinan on the cost.  A walled city that was occupied by the Germans through most of the war as they have a very nice port.  When the Allies began to make headway from Normandy, almost the entire town was destroyed.  It has been rebuilt and is quite pleasant.  Also the “home” of Cartier (not the jeweler, the sailor) who sailed and settled Quebec

St. Malo is fortified on all sides, has a great port and many small islands off the coast which also had castle fortifications. Until WWI, it was fairly impenetrable.

We did manage to find a very nice car museum on our way to our current “home” in the Loire.  Jim was in heaven. Rooms, and rooms of cars, boats, motors, a few motorcycles.  Many were things we’d never seen before  An impressive collection.

They had quite a collection of F1 race cars and memorabilia. Just one small piece of an impressive collection.

Jim has been very tolerant of all the gardens and flowers.  This is a great time to visit France as it is between the winter time and the summer crowds and the flowers are everywhere.  One of the chateau’s we visited today has quite extensive gardens (as they all do), but a big garden festival where designers create garden vignettes.  As well as that, they commission works  of art in other parts of the grounds.  Very impressive, eclectic and thought provoking.

Love this piece from the commissioned works.  I’ll have to look up the artists again.

A little piece from one of the garden vignettes. Some were very “gardeny”, others all about design and not much about garden, others trying to make a point. This was a piece of a well done display.

I have to mention the limestonec aves in the Loire.  There are miles of caves created in excavating stone for the chateau’s of the Loire.  These ended up then becoming cellars for aging wine.  We visited one today that has over 3 Km of tunnels aging wine.  Other caves are very small, such as our little “troglodyte”  (not sure why they really call them that) room at our B&B.   Very pleasant temperature!

Our little casa.  The door and window to the left are the entrance to the cave which once stored wine for a very small producer.  To the back is a bit deeper into our little cave and the bathroom.

I seem to be collecting pics of Jim and small cars.  So…. in closing, from our car museum visit….

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Up Early, to Bed Late

It is beginning to feel like a Cannonball experience.  Tired.  But having fun!  Oh, get over it!

First, from two days ago.  The Reporters Memorial Park in Bayeux.  An organization – Reporters Without Boarders created a park near the British WWII Cemetery to commemorate reporters who have lost their lives in their line of work.  They started with WWII reporters and go through the present. Some years are better than others.

Ernie Pyle was from Albuquerque. Growing up we always heard about him. There is a library in ABQ named after him.

Some years multiple stones with names for a single year. They tended to be more recent years.

Daniel Pearl caught our attention as we really don’t know most of these folks names. They are working to provide us information on our world. Such a fitting place to visit in these files of “fake news.”

We also visited the German Cemetery in Normandy.  It was an American Cemetery, but they moved all the bodies to the “official” American Cemetery and then used this to rebury Germans killed in the war.  Not as much care was given, stones are shared – two solders to a grave and the stones seem to be concrete as opposed to marble or granite.  Still, a very moving place.  It is dedicated to the promotion of peace.

Yesterday and today we also visited Mont St. Michel.  As a child, my Dad as a “book of the world”; pictures of interesting and beautiful places.  I don’t know what happened to that book, but I’ve always wanted to visit.  Yesterday we did!  Lovely.

Ha! A picture of me! Jim was laying on the ground to take. it. Two people took pics of me while Jim took my pic. I am in-famous!

And the beautiful Mont St. Michel. Tides were not high so only a “river” around the island.

Today, we arrived in Brittany.  Food just gets better, scenery spectacular, the soul is very much intact.  Only 10:30.  I want to go to bet early!

Tides are high here, or shall I say, the ocean beds are shallow. Jim just could not get over all the boats awaiting a odd looking.

 

 

 

 

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Contrasts

Normandy is not at all what I expected.  Lovely scenery, peaceful, and warmer than I thought.  A place in contrasts.  The Arromanches beach with the amazing building of the temporary harbor.  Something I had no knowledge of.  Totally amazing.  Look it up.  In 6 days the British built a harbor beginning on D-day+1.  The US harbor “copy” unfortunately got tossed in a bad storm.  The British version fed the invasion supplies for the whole invasion of Europe.  Quite a feat.   Not much remains so you’ll need to look it up.

Cemeteries  the American and British visited so far.  Tomorrow the German.  The American was moving, more so in the museum.  Compelling storiesthere.  The cemetery is “deeded land” (not the right words) to the US in perpetuity.  But, the facility is apparently run by the French – even though a US national cemetery.  Taps and the taking down of the US flag each day is done by…. the French.  It just does not feel right….

The US cemetery in Normandy. 25,000 American died in the Normandy battles, but only about 9300 burred there. Many bodies were shipped home by family choice.

By contrast, the British Cemetery, which is in Bayeux (the town where are at staying) has a little more than 4000 grave markers.  Interesting, it includes some Allied soldiers, as well as a section with quite a few German solders.  Each of the Commonwealth and Allied markers has an apparently family personalized message on the marker, as well as very lovely flowers along the rows.  An example of a marker…”Until stars forget to shine we’ll remember him.  Wife, Mother Father and daughter.”  We did not see any two alike.  A much more moving and personal statement.

A row at the British Cemetery in Bayeux.

 

We also visited, today, the Tapestry of Beyaux.  Had never heard of it, but it was stitched in the 1070’s???? – is 210 feet long and tells the story of how William Duke of Normandy became King of England in 1066 – that infamous date.  One cannot believe this tapestry.  I can’t provide a pic (not allowed as it is 1000 years old and some of the best stitching I’ve seen), but this is something you should see.  One of the most amazing images I’ve seen.  Again, look it up!!!

After the D-Day “activities”, we needed some lighter activities.  A lovely walk along the River Aure.  This little kittien enjoying the day in an odd spot…

She must have an alternative path to the opening as water surrounds the forward path.

And a bit of bird watching in a green space along the river Aude.  Many birds we struggle with as the warbles are brown as opposed to yellow as in the Americas, and Robins are small and,… well, the birds are different.  But, we saw this lovely snake that one man told us was very poisonous.  I don’t know, but he was cute!

Out snake encounter!

Oh, and lovely galletes (buckwheat crepes/omelets with fillings) and crepes with  chocolate.  Ohm, and we are falling in love with a new rose daily….

Oh, it is mid-night.  my nightly bedtime it seems!

 

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