|Port of Meilhan|
When we arrived at Buzet a few weeks ago the plane trees lining the canal were just beginning to come into leaf. Now we're surrounded by the brightest and most beautiful greenery. I had forgotten how green Spring in the northern hemisphere can be. The foliage has been helped along by copious rain but then it is April and showers are a feature of the month. There's been plenty of sunshine too and when it does appear it is quite warm. Off come the thermals (in my defence I haven't encountered 'wintry' weather for around 8 years) on go the shorts and t shirts and armed with paint brushes and sanders we head outside for the never-ending battle against rust and rot and their advance troops, chipped paint and peeling varnish. One drawback of painting at this time of year is the determination of nature to cover every surface with pollen and tiny wind borne seeds. So a slight breeze can ruin hours of work.
We aren't far from the south western extremity of the canal system now. If we wanted, we could be there in a day or so. There is practically no other movement on this stretch of waterway. That's partly to do with it being so early in the season but also most hirers in the south seem to head for the canal du Midi.There are several hire company bases along the Garonne but the mooring facilities are rather limited. There are pretty villages but few shops, cafes or restaurants. Where we are at the moment, Meilhan is great though.
|View over canal and river Garonne from the terrace at Meilhan|
|Meilhan - wisteria season|
This lovely, and much fought over, village is perched on a clifftop overlooking the Garonne valley. It has a wonderful butcher who supplies many of the best regional restaurants (and also Rick Stein on his tv series barging along the Midi), a baker, a couple of restaurants (opening May sometime) and a small supermarket (opening May sometime). There's also a large restaurant right beside the port on the riverfront but it looks unlikely to reopen sometime in May (or any time for that matter). Shame as it's in a beautiful, if flood prone, position.
There is a small bus paid for by the Region/Commune/EU which runs several times a day to the nearest town of Marmande (tomato capital of France apparently) and it comes right into the port here. We took it yesterday and it costs 1 euro each way! A trip of about 30 minutes. It is provided to 'keep the villages alive' we were told by one of the other friendly passengers and it stops off in several villages before heading for the commercial area outside town and then into the historic centre and station. It even makes a stop in the carpark of an enormous hypermarket (Le Clerc) so we'll be heading there for some supplies later today. With all the talk in the UK regarding the EU referendum it seems to me that France manages to do quite nicely with initiatives like this for example.
|Cathedral cloister gardens, Marmande|
|Cathedral Marmande - how green is my garden!|
Lastly, a candidate for most surprising finds. A genuine Rembrandt hanging in a church in the tiny village of Mas d'Agenais. You just let yourself into the church, turn on the light and there it is.