The Canal du Midi became much quieter after we left Castelnaudary as the bulk of the hire boats cruise between there, Carcassonne and Buziers. That is the most picturesque section of the Midi but also the most hard work, particularly climbing upwards towards the summit as we were. What a relief to get there - I need new gloves for next year; the ones I've been wearing are now full of holes from hauling on ropes.
We spent one night on the summit pound where there is a lovely, shady park with a magnificent avenue of plane trees and an obelisk to commemorate engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet who conceived the idea of a canal linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and went on to design and build it over 15 years from 1662. Sadly, Riquet died a year before his canal was finally completed.
|Last of the uphill locks|
From thereon it was all downhill - the landscape anyway. Some of the locks on this section are very deep as they have been modified from double locks to single ones. I'm not sure how you get your ropes up to the bollards as, being self operated, there are no keepers to help (not that they ever did in this area of France). There are still several double/treble locks in existence but they are keepered - and thanks to the one who closed the gates on us -literally- knocking a bit out of the back of the boat.
Anyone who passes this way should call in for a meal at the restaurant in the lockhouse at Castanets- delicious.
|Lock cottage on the Garonne|
After Toulouse the canal becomes the canal du Garonne and changes character. The winding waterway of the Midi straightens as do the locks which become straight sided rather than oval. There is virtually no traffic at all. Most people are now either heading for their winter mooring or have already tucked up their boat. There are one or 2 hire boats around here at Moissac and lucky them - the weather is perfect. Long may it last.
|A bit more relaxing going downhill|
We leave here tomorrow and will be in our new winter port of Buzet within the week.
|Crossing the aqueduct over the River Tarn at Moissac|
|-and by foot|