THE FOLLOWING IS MY LOG OF A CANAL DU
MIDI TRIP IN 2005 FROM SETE TO BORDEAUX
Crossing the Etang du Thau I used the GPS,
having looked at a chartlet and knocked some distance off the recommended route
by going in a straight line - more or less...
When you get to the Canal du Midi entrance it
is pretty crowded with parked boats and until you have passed the first lock it
is possibly difficult to find a parking place for the night which makes a
morning departure even more attractive.
next day we crossed the Etang de Thau and entered the Canal du Midi!
August left early and crossed the Etang de Thau (2 hours) before the
wind got up and entered the Canal du Midi - pretty busy area with boats parked
everywhere, Glenans sailing school, permanent liveaboards, all pretty
squalid etc. Did not look very attractive and I was glad I had not crossed
the previous day as parking would have been difficult.... THEN IT ALL
pure "wind in the willows" very very beautiful indeed.
A lot of big 40
-45 ft hire boats driven by people 'sans permit' with no experience but with
lots of fendering, rubber strips and speed limiters..... Purchased fuel from
hire base at 20% surcharge straight out of pump - alternative was to hump Jerry
jugs.... Got to Colombiers - a large village port de Plaisance with small
supermarket, 2 restaurants - one on quay side - the Ecluiser and one in the
village. Had an expensive meal and not particularly nice one in l'Eculiesier.
August left fairly early but felt pretty queasy! Spent
morning 'driving' with one hand into locks and baffing into bucket held in other
hand! L'Eculiser had got my stomach and dosh. By midday I could continue
no longer and parked up in charming village of Le Sommaile. Spent rest of day in
bed and loo!!!! I have eaten out all over the world and have a strong stomach
but other than one time in Hong Kong I have never been so food poisoned!
August Better - left and got to St Martin - all still beautiful and absolutely
August Arrived in Carcasson at mid-day - went shopping for food etc then
carried on out of town. Because of lots of local 'unemployed' it did not feel a
very secure place to park. carried on till dark.
word of praise for the architect of the canal du midi.... He constructed this
canal with remarkably few locks in spite of a considerable rise in altitude.
(You can make much better mileage than in the northern / eastern France canals
where the locks are prolific)
August stopped at Castelnaudary lock for night - all so pretty.
August Castanet -Toolosan. .... reached summit and started going
downhill. Locks of course much easier to cope with but there are miles of
beautiful reaches following the contours of the land with no locks at all -
brilliant construction and design and always beautiful! The Canal du Midi locks
are oval rather than round (to permit faster filling!) and makes parking a bit
more of a challenge. There are lots of very clever 'flights' of locks' which are
difficult to single hand and need the assistance of someone on shore to put the
lines over bollards. Unlike the other canals these locks start at O9.00 - close
12.30 to 13.30 for lunch and finally at 19.00.
August Passed through Toulouse and past the Airbus factory and a
yard which maintains 'live aboard' Peniches. A very ancient and interesting
town. Odd to be passing through the suburbs in a boat. Grissoles for the nights
August Valance d'Agen. Towns little municipal FOC port de Plaisance. Town
itself charming and ancient with excellent little supermarket. worth a visit!
August Through town of Agen and its dramatic viaduct of the canal over
the river and now in the Canal Lateral de la Garonne. Parked by the 14th century
farm museum of le Ferm de Follett. Bit shallow but did not have to use stakes...
A lot of the locks are now automatic - later they require the lever to be
pressed twice - the second time when the lock has emptied which means you are
way below the height of the leaver! when you press/push the lever the first time
watch the gates close behind you and the 4 shutters raise on the gate in front.
When all 4 have risen and your boat is starting to go down press the leaver for
the 2nd time and it will 'remember' and the gates will open when the water level
has dropped! (not a lot of people know that!)
August Castests. The end of the Canal de la Garonne. A sort of
Port de Plaisance for 3 euro a night in front of the last two locks. these only
operate at local HW of la Garonne and you can arrange with the lock keeper to
let you out (or in) half an hour before HW. Need to move with other boats as
there is only one lockage each way at each HW.
August 07.30 into the first of the two exit locks with 2 other boats.
Into the river about half an hour before local HW. River full of debris and big
with sand banks and sticky up bits. Needs full attention. If you flush the loo
the water comes in very **** mud colored and you may think there is a problem.
When the ebb starts the river runs at 4 to 5 knots in the middle. Got to
Bordeaux at midday and parked up on excellent floating pontoon outside 'port of Bordeaux' lock. This opens at local HW so had to wait till 18.30 to lock into
the basin and go to inner basin. You can use the crane here DIY for 32 Euro and
there are all the chandlery, sail lofts etc you need around the basin no
2. Parking is on a sliding scale but for a month for my 10metre Prout 33 charged
at 150% it is 90Euro a month - lots of liveaboards and although not that
attractive with ww2 German submarine pens on one side and stern/bows to mooring
system I think it is a good - fairly safe place to leave a boat for a while....
I hope it is!
is now in the basin waiting for deliver of new furling gear for the headsails
and for La Rochelle to become cheaper in October when I will move her down the
river and into the Vieux Port my home town.