I have one day to recover from the run before we pack up on Tuesday the 13th October, collect Matthew and take the train to Liverpool before flying back to Carcassonne on Wednesday morning. I am feeling especially happy having Matthew visit us as we never managed to get him to our narrowboat in the UK apart from a flying visit – and being in France he cannot make any excuses to leave.
Our neighbour John invites us for a drink on Wednesday night and as he has had time to get to know Narbonne provides us with some useful info about shops and places to visit. He even gets out his guitar and provides some impromtu entertainment. We take the train to Perpignan only to learn that we are supposed to carry our passports with us at all times when travelling. As we board the train at Narbonne we notice about 10 customs police together with a dog get on to the train and go through all the carriages before a very gruff voice shouts for passports. We receive a telling off and warning to carry them in future – he shows no interest with our driving licences.
Perpignan languishes in the foothills of the Pyrenees and has quite a Spanish feel about it probably due to the light walls and terracotta roofs. We wander around a warren of alleys and easily get lost in the old town and can sense there is a large number of North African and Spanish living here.
Historically Perpignan was the capital of the kingdom of Mallorca. We didn’t get the sense that Matthew would appreciate visiting old churches so after a long lunch we take the little tour train around the town and catch sight of the Cathedrale St Jean, Le Castillet and Palais des Rois de Majorque – I think we are right as Matthew nods off during the trip. The shops look interesting so think a return visit may be on the cards.
We wander over to a bar called CO where we find a Thursday night gathering of ex-pats some live on boats whilst others have properties in Narbonne. It’s good to get to know some more people and are overloaded with names and information – hope there isn’t a test at the end of the night!!! We meet a Canadian couple called Steve and Lynn who have a boat called Dreamcatcher a bit further down the canal – shame they are returning to Canada for a while as it would have been good to get to know them better.
On Friday we take the boat out for a little trip down the canal to Mandirac lock to allow Matthew to experience working a lock. I confidently tell Charles he will be able to turn after the lock but I can tell from that look he gives me he is not as convinced – no problem there is at least a metre to spare. We return through the lock before stopping for lunch and then the return trip back to Narbonne. Matthew takes the wheel and manages the boat like an expert.
On our return we see some marquees have been erected and find there are a number of wines being offered. We buy a glass for 5 euro and can taste three wines – its a lovely atmosphere and we enjoy two really good wines and one okay one – did we make a note of the labels – no is the answer – next time.
We have a final meal out and unfortunately for Matthew the waiter misunderstands his instruction for a rare steak and brings a well cooked one instead – as you can imagine as a chef Matthew is not amused.
Saturday arrives all too quickly and Matthew packs up and we all take the train back to Carcassonne. We make use of the airport shuttle and say our goodbyes at the Medievale Cite when Matthew continues to the airport and we spend the rest of the day being tourists. Its sad to see him go but we have loved having him stay and hopefully he will return again next year.