Monday 14th September 2009

Castelnaudry Grand Basin

The mornings were becoming cool. I started wearing an extra top to keep warm. We got off to a swift start and there was so much talk about the boat that sank from various lock keepers along the way. One guy tried to sell us his home baked apple pie. He also showed us photos on his cell phone of the boat that crashed. Naturally each lock keeper swore blind it would never have happened had they been on duty.

Boat life

The appraoch to Castelnaudary was via the biggest of all staircase locks we had encountered thus far. It had four chambers and five gates. The lock keeper let the boats lock up, and down, simultaneously, so we passed each other in the middle chambers.

Basilica in Castelnaudry

Thanks to a planned extra day we had time to explore Castelnaudary. We managed to get to the local marche in time and my other half bought two pairs of boating shoes for €12.00. I got a pair espadrilles for €3.00. The markets are usually in the mornings on fixed days of the week in the different towns. One has to enquire which day is market day. To check when the market operates ask the locals, lock keepers, Tourist Info or other boaties. We had a small wander around the town. It was built in a circular shape around Le Grand Basin, which is a big pond really. Apart from the marche, Castelnaudry had the usual ornate Basilica or two, street café’s and some beautiful people wandering about. Sitting at the café’s allowed me a chance to be a voyeur to life in France. The French on average are beautiful in a natural, hip kind of way. Their outfits are sort of bohemian but never slovenly or dirty. They look fresh, but never contrived.

The mooring provided boat-to-shore power so we updated all our communications and inspired by boat life we searched the Internet for info on boats for sale. I tried to read a French fashion magazine, gave up and went for a run while my other half went for a walk. I got horribly lost on my run as I missed the road back to the towpath. I managed to find my way back and we settled down to another quiet evening together. We had leftover lentil curry and our usual after-dinner selection of cheeses and fresh fruits.

Canal du Midi

Tuesday 15th September 2009
We treated ourselves to a late start. We still had access to the Internet and shore-to-boat power so we get hold of family, downloaded photos and charged up cell phones, camera batteries, etc. The amenities at Castelnaudry were particularly good so we both had extra long hot showers.

Source of the Canal du Midi

It was nice just to stroll around with no real purpose other than to browse the shops and people watch. The French don’t really get the idea of drinking tea so we tended to drink “cafe” as they call it. It’s served as a tea bag in hot water in a teacup, milk is extra. Tea is more expensive than coffee. We took stock of our food so we could use up what we had. We did our last shop-up at the supermarche. There wasn’t going to be much between Castelnaudary and our final resting place in Negra. We went for another walk into the town to see more of the town.

One can hire bicycles but we chose not to. The amount of time we were likely to use them did not justify schlepping them around and they are an extra cost. However some people cycle the canals and we often encountered them passing our boat laden down with tents and maps.

Plane trees were planted along the canals to provide shade to slow evaporation of water, and their roots also help support the banks of the canal. Canals are cool for the most part, and cycling them as opposed to doing them on a boat could be a great alternative way to explore the area.

Languedoc region

My other half fancies the Dutch steel boats and I like the smaller barges, which are more like houses on water. We did some boat perving while we still had Internet access that evening.

The family moored next to us in Castelnaudary lived on their boat. They had two children they were home schooling on their boat. Slept well, of course and heard an owl hooting again.

Click here for Barging in France Day 15 and 16

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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