Languedoc

langeuedoc


Our day of travel from Spain to France was calm as could be, as though all the dreadful wind and big seas we experienced the previous many days never happened.

Port Vendres, FR

Port Vendres is a lovely town and we arrived on a lovely early afternoon. The town's marina was full but it was suggested we tie up to the commercial dock. It was Saturday and no business would be done there that we would disturb. And so we did.

No power available but that's not a problem with the generator working well again.

Andy went off looking for a customs agent, a harbormaster, and tourist information.

Sorry, it's 1200, lunchtime; everything closed, no business being done, come back later.

Sunday, onward, but the calm weather of yesterday is over and the wind is back and picking up. We refigure a less aggressive target to duck out of the weather sooner than hoped and opt for Port Leucat.

Port Leucat is strictly a tourist development with not much redeeming value except that it offers good shelter and has space available.

We pull in around 1200.

Andy went off looking for a customs agent, a harbormaster, and tourist information.

Sorry, it's 1200, lunchtime; everything closed, no business being done, come back later.

The wind stays strong all day and into the night but seems calm enough the next morning. Off we go and run slam into the worst sea we have seen yet, on the other side of the breakwater. We turn around immediately and have an absolutely hair-raising return back through the breakwater entrance. The boat literally slid sideways into the first inner harbor... Port Leucat will be fine for another day.

Tuesday conditions have calmed enough to get safely underway. As usual, conditions deteriorate as the morning progresses. We never quite figured out why that was, except perhaps the effects of the land heating up and causing onshore wind and swell. The swell was always on the starboard beam, which would support this theory, Again, we modify our target and pull into Port Gruissan, another tourist development with lots of marina space.

We pull in around 1200.

Andy went off looking for a customs agent, a harbormaster, and tourist information.

Sorry, it's 1200, lunchtime; everything closed, no business being done, come back later.

We thought we would be leaving afternoon closing behind in Spain. Apparently not.

Wednesday, underway early into nicely calm seas. We motor along with absolutely no problem, dead boring really until we get to the entrance we will use to access the Canal de Midi.

The canal is immediately another world altogether.

Agde Bridge

We venture only a few miles up the canal to Agde, a fair sized town with mooring available along the wall in the town center.


No power or water but a good place for us to stop. We tie up with the assistance of the local homeless fellows who are perfectly pleasant about helping but who apparently live along the piece of wall we have chosen.

Well, we didn't choose it, it chose us: it was the only spot open.

The spot is right in town, which makes it a good place to launch for exploring, and right around the corner from the first bit of really challenging canal travel.


There is also our first locking experience right around the corner.


Measuring the height

We have a lot of reorganizing to do in order to ready the boat for canal passage as we are right below the first low bridge.

We break down the mast, canopy, wind generator, antennas, hand crane - all the things that stick up - and it looks to still be a close call to get under the bridges coming up.



Discussion with the lockmaster suggests that we should be able to make it under the bridges and over the bottom of the canal, which is none too deep.

Thursday, and off we go nice and early just to be sure we can take it all very slow and be in plenty of time to make the first lock operation at 0930.

And it's a squeaker all the way but works.

We have about 45 minutes to wait for the canal to open and tie up to posts for this purpose along the grassy shore to wait.

The lock was fascinating. It's round and has three gates to accommodate what amounts to a canal intersection. We share it with one other small boat, wait for the water level to come up, and off we go into the Canal du Midi.

Canal du Midi

It's gorgeous. Incredible. Idyllic.

Worth the whole trip just to experience this.

The first several miles are simply stunning with big chestnut trees overhanging the canal; the canal itself is quite narrow with a grassy shorebordered by the old dirt towpath.

Past the parade of trees lining the canal are fields of something very green growing and the occasional horse and rider off across the field.

The postcard perfection doesn't last, but while it does, is remarkable.

The canal opens up into a wide inland bay (L' Etang de Thau) and then back into a narrow waterway again, but not with the same magical charm.

We stop in Frontignan, a simple place with established moorings along the wall in town. Moorings are also right under the railroad bridge with trains running at very high speed rather more often than might be expected. But we are fine, have done a couple of locks without incident, several bridges we held our breath for, and have a good, solid, safe place to hang into for the night.

We are, however, getting quite low on fuel, having not filled since Gibraltar.

A major blunder on our part was not to fill up before leaving Spain as prices in France are clearly much higher. At this point, we just need to find fuel at any price and it doesn't seem as available along the waterway as we believed.

Also the water heater and charger seem to have failed so we (Andy) will have some repair chores to look forward to.

Friday the 13th, Andy goes to visit the local gas station and visits the fresh market. Fish and veg ensue from the market; promises of fuel ensue from the gas station visit. Fuel will be delivered in about an hour.

Fuel arrives, cash changes hands, and we're off. After a few bumps and grinds, mind you, the bottom is none too reliable.

But eventually we can push off far enough to get a clear path for the prop and we are away.

The heater is working again after having purged air from the fuel line. The heater pickup tube is slightly higher than that for the engine. We must have been running on fumes.

The canal is easy enough, quite reminiscent of the ICW, but narrower.

Our destination is Aigues-Mortes ("Dead Waters"...), a walled town that many other travelers have told us is quite great. We hope to stay there for about a week to repair whatever needs repairing, do some deep cleaning, and hire a car to look at locations farther afield.

As we near Aigues-Mortes, we are leaving Languedoc and entering the region called Provence.