8th May 2005

8th May 2005              


With the birds singing in the trees and the sun dappling the waters of the Canal du Midi, Peter is stretched out on the starboard berth for a well earned rest – the victim of the French determination to  enjoy ‘le dejeuner’.


We cycled the couple of kilometres to La Bastide d’Anjou this morning. Admittedly we had had a leisurely coffee with neighbours after getting up at our usual slightly belated hour and so were not surprised that towards twelve we had missed the Post Office. The good news was that it opened between 2:00 and 3:30.  So after a chat with some neighbours and lunch, Peter set off to catch the Poste. That dealt with, he asked help with finding the local shop.  This, when found, cheerfully declared that it would open at 4:00. So he returned the short 2 kilometres to the boat before setting off for the rose wine to go with the barbecued salmon this evening. Shall I wake him to say he forgot the butter?


We have now reached the top of the Canal des Deux Mers. Since Toulouse we have been cruising the result of the superb imagination of Pierre Riquet. The canal was opened in 1681 – a year after he died.  He designed and accomplished the canal from when he was 50 years old.  Many had failed before him but the supply of water which he channelled down from the Montaigne Noire was the key point in it’s success. The place where this water joins the Canal du Midi is one of the loveliest areas we have yet seen. It was planted with many varieties of trees at the end of the 17th century and so abounds in mature trees and although the pound that Riquet built to store the mountain water has long since silted up the channels have been maintained and added to.


Riquet’s canal followed the contours of the countryside and so winds across attractive country. His locks were built with curved sides which fit Can Pyran well and the lock keepers have been cheerful and helpful. It perhaps helps that it is still early season and the spring flowers are out and not all of the tourists. We like being tourists where the locals are not jaded by an excess!


We have now to learn how to take the boat downhill – 30 locks in the next 30 miles so we had better learn the knacks which make it easier and not hang ourselves on snagging ropes.

Now for the authorised version. I had not forgotten the butter, I simply hadn’t known I was meant to get it. Well, there you go.

Here are some photos to go with the summit. Since then we have been to Castelnaudary and Carcassonne, but that will have to be the subject of another instalment.


There are still some rather large peniches on the canals. This one has a cargo of tourists, and came alongside the bank a couple of feet behind us. Fortunately the driver was rather good.




We were  stuck in Castelnaudary by a lock keepers’ strike so we just made the best of a bad job.




Plat de Jour, demi carafe.




Leaving the summit and going down hill at last.




Grand Bassin Castelnaudary




Can Pyran leaves a clean wake behind her on the summit





Sylv driving as we pass the watershed



The watershed behind the bow. Water to the left exits in the Bay of Biscay and water going right exits in the Mediterranean.