Tuesday afternoon and after lunch we headed to Le Somail. This is a pretty town also, with canalside cafes and inns
there's even a shop on a peniche!
JP and I hopped on 2 bicycles and headed out of town to the local intermarche supermarket. We were looking for Poulet Bresse, as JP wanted to cook one. No luck though, and we returned home with chicken legs instead.
Up ropes and we moved down the canal towards Capestang, passing yet another lovely bridge
We moored on the bank outside the town, and JA cooked a wonderful dinner of chicken legs in crème fraiche, seasoned with mustard, balsamic and tomatoes, with rosemary potatoes, leeks and a lovely green salad. You don't eat this well in most restaurants!!!
It was a beautiful night and the moon was full, rising through the trees. The water was still as glass, and the reflection was amazing. We sat on the deck and watched it for hours, talked, laughed and drank lots of wine. A wonderful night.
Wednesday morning we moored in Capestang to meet J, returning from dropping the car back to Port Cassefieres. While we waited we went into the local market. Capestang has a lovely old church in the centre of town
and in the town was a market
with fresh cheeses, wonderful juicy apricots and flat white peaches, olives and nuts, fruit and vegetables, eggs, meat, clothes - just a little market in a small town but with an array of fresh produce and an amazing choice of items.
We located J and headed off towards the 7 lock system at Fonserannes, passing yet more lovely bridges and a very interesting tunnel of 160metres where you have to sound your horn to enter
It was quite eerie sliding through this!!
Here's a photo of a large peniche, a tourist barge, coming through one of the lovely bridges, behind us
More tranquil canal
We headed towards the lock system at Fonserannes. The system of seven locks only opens for downstream boats from 9 - 11,30 and 1-3.30 so we have to get there before then. Unfortunately the barge in the picture above and another one behind us, have right of way so we have to moor against the bank and wait for them to go through two locks each. Finally its our turn.
It's very hot today - over 38 degrees C - it was lovely sliding down the canal in the dappled sunlight but it's very hot waiting at the top of these seven locks. As we go down we buy iceblocks at a shop on the side, they are very refreshing. It takes about an hour to gl through the loks, and at the bottom you make a sharp right and head towards Beziers.
At Beziers the canal goes over a river - there are 2 bridges here as well as the canal which is in a sort of aquaduct
The last lock is after Beziers and is the deepest lock in the whole canal system at 6.9 metres. Here we are at the bottom.
We motored along to Villeneuve-les-Beziers and moored along the bank for electricity, water and hot showers. JA cooked a wonderful dinner (again) of roast pork fillets with mustard and wine, potatoes, beans and salad - absolutely delicious and accompanied by more of the lovely rose. We had bought a local speciality of the region, a small tart made of leaves of what we would call filo pastry, dusted with icing sugar and containing apple puree, in the market, and had it for dessert. It was absolutely delicious.
Next day we headed to Agde and as this wasn't far away,we took it slowly and enjoyed the canal and the bridges.
Again, a lovely lunch moored against the bank, pates and cold meats and lovely cheeses from the market in Capestang.
As we motored along the canal towards Agde we came to a system that Riquet designed as part of the canal. The river and the canal meet here, and because of the height of the river and its volatility it is nit possible to put either the river or the canal into a viaduct. So he needed a way to keep water from flooding into the canal system, but still allow water into the river system, so this system has large sluice gates that allow water into and out of the canal. Its sort of an open tunnel with large gates and lock-type water sluices along it
Then we finally arrived into Agde. The harbour is very busy, with a round lock on the other side, to allow boats to go right towards the Mediterranean sea or left onwards down the canal. We are going onwards to the Etang du Thau, but that's for tomorrow. For tonight we moor inside the small harbour of a rival canalboat company and head into town for a walk and to find somewhere to eat.
Agde has a lovely old castle at the edge of town where the river system diverts around the old town centre
we walked around the old town, but sadly most of the restaurants are closed on Thursdays, including Lou Pescador which Rick Stein had recommended. Nevertheless we found Lo Scampio hidden along the riverfront just outside the castle walls, in a tiny narrow open alley. We had a wonderful dinner of home cured smoked salmon, crispy confit of duck, salmon steaks, magret of duck, fish soup with aoli, seafood pie - the food was fresh and absolutely delicious. Home to our boat and a few more bottles for a nightcap. After all, tomorrow is the last night on the boat and we must eat and drink up all the supplies!!
The next morning we decided to leave around 9, but here we had our big accident. I fell into the canal pushing away from another bank and broke the middle finger of my right hand, not to mention bruises galore!!! Sigh. My travelling companions made me tea and put my hand in ice and we motored through the round lock and down the canal to the Etang du Thau.
We finally came out into the open water of the lake and headed to Marseillan. The Etang is a lake supplying oysters and mussels to France, and the water has to be kept clean, so no using any water on the boat while we are here.
And into the harbour at Marseillan
we had a delicious lunch on the harbour, after finding a doctor and getting the finger bound up and various drugs and potions, and a letter to a radiologist. JW and I got a taxi to Agde to wait for an X-ray whilst the others motored back to Agde. We managed to meet up in the round lock and we both jumped back on board. We motored to the boat harbour at Port Cassefieres and tied up. A last dinner on board, chatting with the Irishmen tied up beside us.
Saturday morning we cleaned the boat (well, the others did and I watched) then J took JW to the early train at Beziers, then another trip to Beziers with JA and M, then finally back to collect me and JP. We headed for Spain and Barcelona!!!