Saturday, August 1, 2015

Garonne canal and Baïse river cruise

We rented a canal boat from Le Boat company in Le Mas d'Agenais. The package is called 'The History and Heritage Cruise', although we were not restricted to any particular itinerary. 

We started a bit late on Friday July 17th, after driving from Blaye and provisioning in Marmande. First leg up the Canal lateral de Garonne towards Damazan was limited by the locks closing at 7pm. On the canal we could stop wherever we wanted.

First night on the canal

Learning about the long lunch in a shady restaurant - Vianne

Pretty girls in Vianne

Mary Poppins at Vianne

Exploring by bike

George posing for a Pfizer advert on a bike ride near Vianne.

At Buzet we took a lock to move from the Canal Lateral de Garonne, to the river Baïse. Different types of lock, and fewer places to tie up. 

Chateau on the banks of the River Baïse

Under Barbaste railway bridge

Evening meal at Barbaste

Fireworks at Barbaste castle

Fleurette statue at Nérac. She was the teenage mistress of the teenage Prince Henri, who later became the first Bourbon king. She killed herself after he dumped her. Her name 'Fleurette' gave rise to the word 'flirting'. 


Nérac bridge and lock

Come and have some lunch, guys! Nérac.

Nérac bridge at night

Nérac night market. A lot of fun with food stalls, and live music. People friendly and happy to have photos taken of them. Right beside where we were moored.

Nérac is a delightful town. Some readers will know the film 'Chocolat', which stars Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp. It is based on the book by Joanne Harris, who has said that Nérac was an inspiration for the fictional village. She used to have holidays there as a child. More from Joanne Harris here

Armagnac seller

Girl at night market enjoying a cornet

Crepe seller - night market

Jewellery seller - night market

Singer in an Eric Clapton cover band - night market

Paul grooving on music with his cigar

The canal bank en route to Le Mas d'Agenais

Early morning downstream of Le Mas at Pont de Sable

Some of the crew escaping the heat in a canal-side bar - Meilhan sur Garonne

George - contra-jour

Meilhan sur Garonne

Panorama of the Garonne river and canal

Friendly farmers


Sunrise over the Garonne valley

On Friday July 24th, we reached the end of the canal, where it joins the part of the Garonne River which is navigable to the sea, past Bordeaux into the Gironde Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. This is at the town of Castets-en-Dorthe. By another stroke of luck, we arrived when there was another night market.

Moule van


Man in market

Kay with her vaper

Surreal matchstick museum, with Palace of Versailles built by Gerard

A short video of the cruise on the Garonne Canal in SW France. HD version here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Road trip to Paris

With the end of the canal cruise, the party went their separate ways, and George and I rented a car to drive to Paris to fly home.

A search of the net turned up 'Nine of the Most Scenic Drives in Europe'. I noticed that two of them could be tacked together as part of the drive to Paris: No 4, in the Dordogne, between Sarlat-la-Canéda and Montignac, and No 3, along the Loire Valley, between Amboise and Blois.

So we took a taxi to Bordeaux airport after the boat drop-off, and drove a rental Renault via Saint-Émilion (a World Heritage listed special wine and history spot) to Sarlat-la-Canéda and then Montignac, staying in a hotel there.

Note to self (and others). Never ever do top tourist spots in Europe in July or August. Plenty traffic, rubber-neckers, and shoddy rip-the-tourists-off food and service.

Roofs of Saint-Émilion

Saint-Émilion square

Restaurant in Saint-Émilion square


Montignac roof-top café 

Montignac waterfront restaurants. They look cute, but the food was terrible.

Lanouaille, on the road between the Dordogne and the Loire Valley

We had Bed and Breakfast at this run-down old farm-house near Amboise, grandly named Chateau Pintray.

The Eiffel Tower from a park in Sèvres