From The Midi to The Canal du Garonne

On Friday 1st July we pack up say our goodbyes to Toulouse  and with the help of Peter manoeuvre our way out of our tight mooring spot which giving Charles credit he does superbly  and are just on our way when we hear the sound of a horn behind us and see a commercial barge honing down on us and proceeds to tail gate us until we get to the lock where he overtakes us without a bye or leave……..you can imagine how Charles reacted to this!!!

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Leaving Toulouse – offending barge just visible on the left!

My view is better in front than behind and so we can chill out and saunter at our leisure and moor just before L’Hers lock by ignoring the perche (which operates the lock) and travelling along a short aqueduct to moor just before the lock. It’s a nice mooring but unfortunately we mess us the mechanics in the morning by reversing back across the aqueduct to get back to the perche, which confuses the system and we get the dreaded double red light! This results in me having to walk to the lock and summon a lock keeper – so perhaps won’t do that again.

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Port of Montech – the old paper mill chimneys in the background

We spend a night in Montech which has a rather fascinating history. In 1856 Genebriére and Laporte started a paper factory which was totally dependent on the waterways. The woodchip needed to make the paper came from Bordeaux via the river and the Canal du Garonne and the British coal which powered the steam machines also travelled by barge. At its peak the mill employed more than 300 employees and produced between 5000 and 6000 tons of paper each year – but sadly due to competition closed in 1968.

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The Water slope – you can see the slope in front of the electric tractor. There is a long, deep ‘puddle’ of water in front which the barge sits on and the whole lot is pushed up the slope.

Another attraction is The Water Slope built in 1974 when water transport was flourishing. Two 1000 HP diesel electric engines attached together by a beam go up or down the slope which is 13.3 metres high pushing a volume of water which carries the boat.  Boats have to be over 20 metres in length to use the slope anything less are obliged to use the locks. To enable boats to go in or out, a huge shield is lifted up by a hydraulic jack. Boats travelled at 4.5km an hour but still saved 45 minutes in time by avoiding the locks. Sadly not in operation just now and probably won’t be repaired.

 

After an early 12 mile run along the Canal de Montech we set off in the boat along the same route with 9 locks takes considerable longer time.

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‘Gesina’ in Montauban

On arrival at Montauban we see Maggie and Nigel who have nabbed the best spot and we find ourselves very near to a lively bar on a finger mooring – we are a bit big and heavy but the Capitain doesn’t appear to mind.

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A lovely sunset in Montauban

We spend a week at the port descending the two locks onto The Tarn for a few days. The Tarn is absolutely beautiful and peaceful and we are amazed more boats don’t spend time here. We have the river to ourselves for our two nights and there are three excellent pontoons to moor against although the water and electric supply have unfortunately been switched off.

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Quiet spot on the River Tarn below Montauban

On Thursday the 7th July The Tour de France complete the sixth stage of the race at Montauban so we take a walk into town and enjoy the colourful caravan which throw goodies into the crowd of spectators.

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The Caravan

The race was first organised in 1903 to increase paper sales for a magazine L’Auto.  Despite it being very hot I cajole Charles into hanging around for two hours to watch the cyclists come in and what a spectacle too; well worth the wait.

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Don’t blink …or you’ll miss them!!!

We then stroll into the town centre for an evening meal and enjoy the build up for EUFA France v Germany match -the French take it all very seriously, the atmosphere is quite electric.

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A meal in the square  ..
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… with the French football fans!

We leave on Saturday the 9th  July and have a couple of nights at Montech. After numerous recommendations from fellow boaters we book a table at the nearby restaurant Bistrot Constant and thoroughly enjoy a leisurely lunch – much deserved after my 14 mile run in the morning.

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Mooring at Montech
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Sunday lunch – Bistro Constant, Montech

We spend one night at a remote mooring at St Porquier which is very pretty and quiet. For some reason we decide to walk back to Montauban to collect the car – 11 miles – and I sense Charles has had enough when his sense of humour and conversation vanishes, good time to keep my mouth shut!!! Fortunately Maggie and Nigel are still moored there and provide us with iced cold water.  Nigel asked what I thought I was doing to Charles and Maggie wondered if I was trying to kill him!!! Whats that saying? What doesn’t kill you makes you strong!!! We have a couple of nights at Castelsarrasin before arriving in Moissac on Wednesday the 13th where we will be staying for a week or so.

We are up early on Thursday morning for a long drive meeting Debbie and Kevin at  Roanne where we are staying at The Chateau de Champlong to celebrate Kev’s 60th birthday.

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Chateau de Champlong

We enjoy a leisurely afternoon drinking champagne before dressing up for an interesting evening meal. Unfortunately although the staff were forewarned that I am a vegetarian there isn’t very much for me to choose from so I end up with a very expensive omelette – an excellent omelette but an omelette non the less. I have never had pre-dessert followed by desert not to mention the extensive cheese board – if I’d have known I might have given the first two courses a miss…….we have a lot of fun and the boys complete the evening with a whiskey.

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Kevin’s big 60!

On Friday we go to the Port at Roanne to stay over on Rangali. Debs and I have a short run and then we just sit around chatting before walking into town for a lovely pizza in the evening. We thoroughly enjoy our time with Debs and Kev just a shame our boats are so far away from each other.

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Scorching – can’t wait for our proper canopy to arrive!

When we get back to Moissac we move the boat down onto The Tarn where we stay for six nights. Maggie and Nigel have also arrived in the port and on Wednesday (21st) we all walk into town to enjoy a meal together opposite the 11th century cloistered abbey, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the region.

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Lovely meal with Maggie and Nigel at Le Florin in front of the Abbey in Moissac

On Saturday night we hear there is a night market but find it lacking in every conceivable way so Charles and I treat ourselves to a pizza.We are leaving Moissac on Monday so invite Maggie, Nigel and our neighbours Steve and Linda on Lineve a boat they constructed themselves to a BBQ.

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Moored on the River  Tarn quay in Moissac in front of Lineve
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BBQ with Maggie, Nigel, Linda and Steve

We spend three nights at a remote mooring at Pommevic which has free electric and water which is a bit of a surprise.

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Old church in Auvillar
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Lovely views
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Main Square, Auvillar

We take a drive to Auvillar which is classified as being one of the most attractive villages in France, the views are certainly magnificent and the village has red brick houses dating back from the 17th and 18th centuries. We enjoy wandering around the little shops and have a gallette in a small cafe before leaving.

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A large Leffe whilst waiting for our gallettes to arrive

I am busy cleaning the inside and outside of the boat in preparation of Laura’s arrival – not that she will notice but its always nice to have everything spic and span for visitors whether family or not.

 

 

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