|One of the beautiful lavoirs at Valence d'Agen|
'You do know it's going to rain?' I was saying a quick goodbye to a small group of the other boaters we've come to know quite well in Buzet's port. We all looked up at the steadily darkening sky. I nodded and shrugged. L'Avenir's engine was already going and from the signs of activity on deck it looked as though I'd better get a move on or I'd miss the boat. Time to go.
Our general rule is that we don't move when it's raining preferring to stay warm and dry inside looking out in sympathy and admiration for those that do. They tend to fall into two groups; the hirers who don't want to miss a single day of their expensive holiday and the intrepid yachties who seem to me to be a race apart. This canal (the Garonne) joins up with the Canal du Midi and together they are known as the Canal du Deux Mers (canal of the 2 seas) . They are the route for the yachts to travel from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean so we see quite a few. Often, yacht sailors are not fond of canals (sometimes referring to travelling along them as 'ditch crawling') and they move on through regardless of the weather. What's a bit of weather if you're used to battling Atlantic storms after all?
The deluge began soon after we left port - at the first lock of course. We went through one more and gave up, deciding to tie up and wait it out. That happened to be the next morning. We saw only 2 moving boats all day. One was a hireboat filled with miserable looking holiday makers and the other a yacht.
Another group of travellers which doesn't seem to be put off too much by the rain is the cyclist. The towpath has been upgraded and is the long velo route from the Atlantic to the Medi.
|Velo cafe in the lock cottage|
We are now in the small town of Moissac having made stops at Agen (famous for its prunes. There's even a prune museum which we haven't visited) and Valence d'Agen which is a pretty Bastide (fortified town) We happened to be in Vaence on market day and it has one of the biggest markets I've ever seen taking over every street in the historic centre as well as the covered market.
The River Tarn runs alongside the canal here in Moissac (and underneath. We cross it on an impressive aqueduct when we leave). Much of the town was destroyed and many of the inhabitants drowned in the great flood of 1930. The abbey survived though and is a stop on the Compostela pilgrim route. We have seen many, many people walking this route along the canal towpath. Another intrepid bunch of all ages from young children in family groups to quite elderly. When we came this way a couple of years ago we met 2 men walking with their donkey. They went faster than we did.
Next stop - not much further on - is Castelsarrasin.
|The Tarn River|