Thursday 10th September 2009

Exiting a lock

This was a long day. Apart from the traffic on the canals, we had 10 locks including some staircase locks to cover. At Laredorte, we tied up after lunch and tried to shop for provisions. The local ‘epicurie’ only re-opened at 16.00. We made enquiries with a repairman who smiled at us and shrugged, saying it was – the south of France – what did we expect? Yup, it’s a laid back place when shops close for lunch till 16.00. 

Push button style lock

One can buy very basic provisions at some of the locks. The lock keepers and locals are an enterprising lot. At the locks you often find a small selection of home-grown vegetables, wines and honey. At one lock they even sold their signature “cafe chocolat” drink for €1.

We never got to Marseillette that day as the 9th lock on the way had a huge backlog of boats. The lock keeper shut down 19.00 sharp. A queue of 13 boats were waiting to lock up and 15 boats stood waiting to lock down. We all spent the night together outside the lock.

Lock doors opening

We had a good chuckle with the Canadians on the boat ahead of us and the French on the boat behind us at our unexpected mooring location for the night. Despite the crowd of boats it was so peaceful that we both slept until we heard the other boats hammering their pegs loose and getting ready to move ahead in the queue. It was just as well we took the boat for two weeks to do what the boat hire company suggested was a week long trip. Unforeseen delays and the desire to see more of the villages would have made this trip really tight. The peak boat season runs June to August. We were in the shoulder season. One can only imagine how busy the canals must be in the height of the holiday season.

Friday 11th September 2009

Boats queuing to pass a lock

Luckily this day got off to a better start and even at the staircase locks we had an easy passage.

Market Carcasssonne

With an assortment of nationalities together communication can be a gesture at times. One guy showed a hand to mouth motion as he came out the lock to show those of us waiting, that the lock keeper had just gone on lunch. So we stopped for lunch at Trebes. The Tourist Info opened up at 13.30 pm and they told us there was a supermarket 15 mins away We grabbed our bags and headed for a walk though the town and a shop up. We could relax once we had topped up on food.

However, this turned out to be another interesting day as we got stuck in a lock. The lock closed but it refused to open. Our Canadian friends from the day before as well as a young French couple were stuck in the lock with us. We had visions of sleeping in the lock that night after our experience the day before. Happily the lock keeper rustled up a mechanic who hit something with a hammer – hard – and . . . Voila! We were free. We tied up in Carcasonne by 18.30pm and we even managed to squeeze in a run along the towpath.

Bread at the Carcassonne market
The towpath next to the canal

The usual church bells chimed on the hour and ½ hour as they do in nearly every French village or town. Sometimes there are a few church bells nearby all chiming within a few seconds of each other. Our mooring was close to the local garre or station so we heard the train’s clickety clacking throughout the night and the arrival and departure announcements in French. The nice thing about this kind of holiday, is one rarely sleeps in the same place twice, so the sounds and experiences are always completely different. Your bed stays the same and your clothes and food all travel along with you. How convenient.

Click here for Barging in France Day 11 and 12.

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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