There is a series of 4 locks climbing up a hill into Agen. There is a small pound between each lock, like a glass pond when we went through because there weren’t many other boats. It was a great way to end our trip from Valence-sur-Baise. At the top of the locks we crossed the flooded Garonne River on a very long aquaduct and then boated next to peak hour traffic to the harbour in the middle of town. Great fun!
Today was May Day in France which is a very well observed holiday. Everything was closed, including cafes and restaurants … but our port’s captains were English, and they didn’t mind opening their little office which doubles as a bar! This afternoon we enjoyed a drink at their establishment. Part of the fun was WIFI access, and I downloaded a 360 photo app for my phone. Hence this wonky photo! It is of us sitting under an umbrella on the edge of the canal. In the background is a narrow boat, a few of them are moored here, ready for hire.
Arriving at Condom by boat is just amazing. It’s a beautiful, ancient town, and the harbour is quiet and peaceful, especially at this time of year. It wasn’t crowded at all, and we could moor any where. Getting off the boat and being right in the middle of town without having to find anywhere to park is brilliant!
We arrived here one afternoon and were entertained by the dramatic emptying of all the locks that are lined up like a giant staircase.
Here is an interesting excerpt from Wikipedia:
Though Pierre-Paul Riquet rightly receives so much credit and acknowledgement for the creation of the Canal du Midi, we may forget that many individual parts of the canal were built by subcontractors other than Riquet. The subcontractors for these locks were two illiterate brothers, Michel and Pierre Medailhes. Many of the workers were women. (^ Mukerji, Chandra (2009). Impossible Engineering. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14032-2.)
This was a very interesting area. I wrote about the Etang de Montady when we were there! This is a short movie of the tunnel. The boater’s guide book said it was easy, and it was, you just needed a loud horn on the boat. I was very pleased that we were able to follow a boat through that wasn’t shy about using it. I’ve deliberately lowered the volume on this movie because our chatter is not all that interesting. Better to play your own music!
This lock had to be the most unloved lock that we saw. There is a lof of graffiti in France, but that’s another post. This shed and its surrounds were totally unkept and unloved. It was a sad way to end our wonderful trip. The buildings and surrounds of the other locks all looked fantastic. They had old buildings, but gardens and hedges, and really looked terrific. There was no landscaping here, and even the water looked like sludge. The canal/river wasn’t much better. It’s a bit late tonight, but I will look up the proper names and edit this post later on.
Sunday 10th October
This is part of a canal that actually cuts France in half.
Valence sur Baise is the place where we hired our first boat. When we arrived there it was wet and windy and we didn’t look around much. The locaboat office was closed so we got our taxi driver to take us to a cafe so that we could wait. He drove us to the town square at the top of the hill and it looked like all the workers in the village were there having lunch, including the locaboat man. No one spoke English, but they were very friendly, and I was able to order 2 beers and lunch (but I didn’t know what lunch, I just agreed to their suggestions).
When we came back down the canal to drop off the boat we went for a walk to see what was there. It is a very interesting, very old town.
You can see the canal in the middle of this photo. Locaboat have an office there and a number of boats for hire.