Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Pablo and Libia left us at Beziers after having made some gorgeous stops along the Rhone. In Arles, we were able to moor on the river where there are pontoons for smaller boats. We were lucky to get a place. We spent two night there, the first a full moon. It was true magic. From our boat the view was the old part of the city, so you felt transported back to medieval times. Arles is the site of a beautiful Roman colosseum and the city where Van Gogh lived and painted. We were lucky enough o have been there for market day. They set up an enormous market where everything can be found from clothes to live animals. That was a great experience. South of Arles, we stopped at some lovely villages before getting to the wild Camargue, a flat marshy area of France known for its wild horses, flamingos and saline beds, all of which we saw. In order to get to the Canal du Midi, you must cross the Etang de Thau, similar to the Bay of Biscay, with a finger of land separating it from the Mediterranean. It must be crossed under the right conditions because the wind can be very dangerous. You must follow the channel along the famous oyster beds because the rest is very shallow. To me, this was most exciting. Biesbosch sailing in salty waters, waves braking over the bow, and taking it all so beautifully! The entrance to the Canal du Midi is marked by a small lighthouse which was our reference point in the distance. The crossing was about 2 1/2 hrs. Lots of little fishing boats were moored along this first part of the canal before getting to the first lock. The locks on this canal are oval shaped, so it took some getting used to. We tied up for the night after the first lock. The Canal du Midi is a World Heritage sight. It was built in the XVII Century by a great visionary called Paul Riquet to join the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. It is lined on both sides by Plane trees which provide shade for the boaters in the heat of the summer. An interesting experience was the passing of the 7 locks at Fonserannes. They put 3 boats at a time, very close to one-another and the trick is to keep from bumping into other boats once the water is let in. It comes in so violently! Thank God we had Pablo up on the lock helping the boat in front of us. The poor lady was terrified and had no clue what to do with the ropes.

After a few more days of peaceful travel along The Midi, we took Pablo and Libia back to Beziers where they took the train to Lyon to fly back to The States. It was so sad to see them go. My foot was still in a cast, but it was getting easier to handle. Soon after they left, we took the boat to a lovely little town called Le Somail, were able to moor at the Nichols rental boat base for a few days waiting for our friends Justo and Stella who were coming from Miami.
At this point it was October and fall was in the air. Our friends joined us at Le Somail. There is a large boat which is a store and deli with very fine products, so it was fabulous being tied up close to it. We had fresh bread every morning in a village without a bakery! After exploring the area by car, we went as far as Homps with them. Along the way, we stopped at many vineyards and tasted as many wines as we could. Needless to say it was a fabulous time as well. Justo did a lot of great cooking, we shared some great times and time flew by.

The day after Justo and Stella left, my back went out. I could not move at all. My friend Claudine from Carcassonne told me she would make an appointment for me to see her therapist , so being a few miles away, Bill took the train to get our car--a whole day travel-- so he could take me to see the therapist. He told me the problem was lumbar, but he could help me. Claudine's doctor saw me at her house, gave me an anti-inflamatory and a prescription for 10 visits with Philippe, the therapist. After about 4 visits, I started to feel better, although it took me amost two months to fell well. The canal was to close on Nov. 7, so we arrived at the port in Carcassonne on Nov. 4. We were given our spot for the winter just in front of the Capitainerie, a very secure place in a port that has all the facilities and a great captain, Stephanie, young, most helpful and professional. There were quite a few boats here for the winter, and many of the people stayed on their boats all winter long. They were all very nice and welcomed us with open arms. There are Brits, Welch, Irish, and us, the only Americans. During our month in Carcassonne, we did a lot of exploring in our car and got to see some of the most beautiful villages and areas in France. We Have visited Narbonne and the beautiful port of Colliure, Perpignan and Toulouse, a great city, and all its surounding towns. We are in the middle of two wine producing regions: the Minervois and the Corbieres. The vineyards were turning colors, so the landscapes were breathtaking. Remarkable towns are Lagrasse, which has an Abbey founded in the year 800 and the village's buildings date from the XI C. The setting is absolutely gorgeous. Minerve, situated above two rivers is another jewel of the Middle Ages, as is Aigne, built in the shape of a snail, the center being the church and square.

On December 12 2007, we left Biesbosch here and took a train to Zurich from where we flew to California to spend Christmas and New Year's with our son Ian.

An intimidating lock

Canal du Midi

Pablo and Libia follow along the canal

Locks at Foncerannes

An autumn sunset

Our winter mooring in Carcassonne

St. Etienne on The Rhone

Fortress on The Rhone

Roman Colosseum in Arles

Cafe de Nuit, Arles

Early Moon, Arles

Later moon, Arles

The Camargue

Flamingos, The Camargue

L'Etang de Thau

There is the marker for The Midi!

Bateau epicerie

Le Somail

Justo and Stella

Want to buy my vineyard?

Quiet mooring on The Midi

Wine tasting Chateau

Lock on The Midi

A nice lunch by Chef Azpiazu


Quite a mural

Chapel among the vines


Benedictine dormitory

Port of Colliure near Spain

Snail shaped fountain, Aigne

St. Thibault, Private castle

Homps, The Midi

Will we fit?

Art at lock

The Midi in the fall

La Cite de Carcassonne

A view of Carcassonne

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