Bram to Castlenaudary: Monday 25th April

Woke up at 08h30 and managed to shower and get through the 1st lock at 09h00. We slept at the lock mooring for 10 hours! Fresh air and exercise will do that! We were the only barge in the lock and we got through the 1st two locks in 30 minutes. We were complimented by a lock keeper for our tying up.

"entering a lock"

entering a lock

We stopped at Villepinte for breakfast. Dave cycled into the village but nothing was open. Our next stop will be Castelnaudary – 11kms and 15 locks. We stopped for lunch at the first triple lock – we have made good progress. The lock was like a staircase – the front and rear gates closed and the middle sets open. I got the rope caught on the mechanism while greeting the lock keeper. The ropes and I are full of grease. It took us 25 minutes to do the locks into Castelnaudary. There is a huge open water section between the locks and the port.

"open expanse everywhere"

open expanse everywhere

We moored at 15h00 for the night and we are still a night ahead of schedule which means we can sleep in tomorrow if we want to. We walked around Castelnaudary and had a lazy afternoon reading and relaxing. It would be a good idea to invest in a 12v – 24v inverter for charging cell phones etc. Easter Monday was a public holiday in France. We had a really nice dinner – the cassoulet was much better here than in Toulouse. We thought we were lucky and that we had scored free electricity and water left over from the previously moored barge. It was a good thing the electricity was on as the port office was closed.

"Church in Castlenaudary"

Church in Castlenaudary

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Trebes to Bram: Sunday 24th April

We were ready in the morning after a good night’s sleep to do the 7 locks to Carcassonne.

"Waiting for the lock to open"

Waiting for the lock to open

Got to Carcassonne before 11h30 and moored up. We topped up with water and charged the electrical things. The charges for mooring at Carcassonne are €4.00 for ½ a day and up to €12.00 for overnight stops. Water and electricity cost €3.00 and there can be an additional supplement for overnight visitors as well.

"Carcassonne"

Carcassonne

We walked to where we could see the Old City and did some shopping. We went into a lock with boats coming out and it was a squeeze to get it correct. We had one surprise lock that we did not see on the map as it was under a bridge.

"Bram"

Bram

We tied up for the night just past Bram. We are one night ahead of schedule. We did 35kms and 12 locks today plus 8kms of walking. We walked into Bram and back – Bram is the largest circular city in Europe. We stopped for a beer at the canal basin – total walk distance was 4kms. We gnocchi with a sauce of shallot, lardoons, asparagus and cream.

gnocchi with a sauce of shallot, lardoons, asparagus and cream"

gnocchi with a sauce of shallot, lardoons, asparagus and cream

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Homps to Trebes: Saturday 23rd April

Woke up very early and it was still drizzling. Had fried eggs for breakfast and then had a shower. The shower is very interesting. It is a hand held device and you shower in the space between the basin and the loo.

"The view of Homps from our barge"

The view of Homps from our barge

We got on our way at 08h10 and it was raining. The wind catches the barge. We got to the first lock before it opened. It was pouring with rain but we got the lock done perfectly.

"On our way to La Redorte"

On our way to La Redorte

Moored at La Redorte and walked into the village to shop. There was beautiful produce at the supermarket. We had an espresso at the restaurant alongside the moorings.

"A handful of cooked prawns for lunch"

A handful of cooked prawns for lunch

We got through the Puichéric lock before the lunch break which is from 12h30 to 13h30.  We stopped for lunch before the first locks to Marseillette. We did 8 locks in 8km’s including 2 doubles, a triple and a single. Trèbes triple lock was a synch. We were the only boat and we have our rhythm.

"This view is something you get used to!"

This view is something you get used to!

We stopped for the night at the first lock – Villedubert – on the way to Carcassonne from Trèbes. 14 locks and 30kms travelled today. I walked over 6kms. The locks are very physical and you need to be fit and agile.

"One of the many villages we saw"

One of the many villages we saw

We had scallops and asparagus for supper – the asparagus came from a farmer selling them at the side of the road.

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Toulouse Argens Homps: Friday 22nd April

We had breakfast at the hotel before walking to the train station and catching a train to Lezignan-Corbierre. We had one platform change in Carcassonne.

Train Station In Toulouse

Train Station In Toulouse

We walked to Centre Ville and then caught a taxi to Argens-Minervois. We got sorted out on the barge and our first lock was the Pechlaurier lock which was not easy.

The sign at each lock telling you where you have come from and where you are going

The sign at each lock telling you where you have come from and where you are going

We were locking up and the rope whacked my finger. Dave smashed his knee and we learnt that patience is required. The lock keeper did not help us at all!

The Lock Gates Are Closed

The Lock Gates Are Closed

The next sets of locks were much easier. We got to Homps – 6kms and 5 locks done. We tied up for the night and spoke about what we needed to do for the rest of the locks.

Our Second Lock Was Much Easier

Our Second Lock Was Much Easier

It drizzled from just before we tied up after a lovely but windy day. The rain continued through the night. Dinner of course had to start with red wine.

A Bottle Of Red Wine Opened

A Bottle Of Red Wine Opened

We had pasta for supper – chorizo, mushrooms and garlic and comte.

Dave cooks and I clean!

Dave cooks and I clean!

with love from France.

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Cape Town Frankfurt Toulouse: 20th and 21st April

We flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then took an overnight flight to Frankfurt.

Fruit from South Africa for sale in the local market

Fruit from South Africa for sale in the local market

We had breakfast in Frankfurt at the airport with Michelle and Jutta before catching a flight to Toulouse.

Toulouse

Toulouse

We checked into the hotel and had a shower before going shopping for food for the barge.

Toulouse

Toulouse

We took a walk around Toulouse, heading towards Capitol. We went back to the hotel to relax before heading out for the evening.

Toulouse

Toulouse

Had a lovely supper at La Ripaille. They were amazed we booked so early, but the overnight flight does not make for late nights. The owner only spoke French. We started off by selecting a local red wine.

A good bottle of red wine to start the evening with

A good bottle of red wine to start the evening with

Being in duck country I had rare duck breast.

Duck breast for dinner

Duck breast for dinner

and Dave sampled the cassoulet, which is a traditional dish of the region.

and cassoulet

and cassoulet

Dessert of course was a crème brûlée for me!

crème brûlée

crème brûlée

Dave usually finishes his meal with an espresso, but the owner told him that he had to order a Café Gourmand. Not knowing what to expect this arrived at the table.

Café Gourmand

Café Gourmand

Dave got a great dessert.

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