Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Capestang France - Canal Du Midi

Canal Du Midi

I had certain expectations for Capestang but reality was that they would all be shattered by what this area has to offer. Forget about the good wines, fresh produce or even the marinated duck breast ready for the BBQ.
The scenery was stunning from the vineyards to the ancient church and of course the Canal Du Midi.

The canal now serves as a highway for the barges filled with vacationers from around the world. Pace on the canal cannot be described as anything else but slow. Why would you want to rush when you have the beautiful countryside on either side of you? When people get tired of floating down the canal they just stop, have lunch and a glass of wine.

Sometimes it is strange on how things work out. We had not planned on going down the canal but when the opportunity came up we did not say no. It helps that our friend Eva is out going and open hearted. One afternoon Eva was at the visitor information booth dropping off brochures for their B&B Le Petite Platanes when she overheard a man asking for some information. He spoke in English so Eva offered assistance. Mike, his family and friends had rented two boats for a week long ride down the canal. Well one thing lead to another and Eva invited them to her place for dinner. I think the phone call home was like this, "Hi Alfonz, I have just invited 18 people for dinner, hope that is OK with you." 

Turns out the visitors were from Washington, DC. In two days they would be returning to Capestang and the BBQ would be held that night. 



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They returned on schedule and everyone looked forward to making new friends. Food for the evening was centred around a traditional French BBQ. Several types of sausages, duck breast, salads, a baguette or two and refreshments. A pot luck dinner with everyone contributing something.

Alfonz was head man on the BBQ and it was my job to keep him hydrated.
 


The kids had hotdogs and ice cream along with some fun time in the pool. They then relaxed by watching an assortment of videos.

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It was a great evening but everyone had to head back to the boats as it was their last night on the canal. We were asked if we would like to go with them on the final leg of the trip. Tough decision, a 3 hour boat ride on the Canal Du Midi. Of course we would go as long as their boat is not called the "S.S. Minnow".



Next morning we walked up to the canal to meet everyone. The first boat we saw exemplified what canal cruising was all about. One person waving, two sleeping, two looking at the scenery go by and the captain steering.

Canal Du Midi - Capestang France

If you need some exercise there is a bike path alongside the Canal.
Good way to work up an appetite after a day of relaxing.

Canal Du Midi -Capestang France

Capestang harbor is a place to tie up your boat for the night. Water and electricity connections are conveniently provided here. People over nighting here also have the opportunity to check out the local restaurants and bars. The bakeries, with all their sweets are very popular. A baguette, fresh cheese and a glass of wine on your boat are truly a memory you will never forget.

Canal Du Midi - Capestang France

Leaving Capestang we must go under the first of many bridges. Wonder how many boats forget to lower their umbrella, well I know of one that has a slightly bent post.

Bridge on the Canal Du Midi in Capestang France

The Canal Du Midi is man made and has some unique features. From our vantage point we looked down to the town of Capestang. It was truly an engineering feat when construction started in 1667. At its peak 12,000 construction workers were involved in the largest project in Europe.
Over 1,000 women were involved with planning the canal's water flow.

Capestang France from the Canal Du Midi

Canal Du Midi - trees next to canal.


For most of our ride we saw Sycamore trees on the edge of the canal. They provide shade and also add to the experience. Unfortunately the trees have been infected by a fungus and all will have to be removed in the next 20 years. The source of the fungus is thought to be Second WW ammunition boxes made from infected Sycamore. Plan is to replace the 180 year old trees with ones resistant to the fungus.


The rest of the group traveled down the canal in this boat.
The bikes were well used by both the adults and their children.

The "La Maguelonne" on the Canal Du Midi.

The Ponte De Pigasse is one of the many bridge over the canal.

Le pont de Pigasse over the Canal Du Midi

Vineyards for as far as the eye can see. There are wineries located close to the canal that offer wine tasting and of course you can buy a bottle for your diner.

Vineyards - Canal Du Midi

River flowing under the Canal Du Midi in France




Previously I had mentioned that the canal has some unique features. Here is an example of one. An aqueduct was built to enable the canal to flow over the river. You can see the canal water on the bottom of the picture and the river below. At one point in the canal boats go through a man made tunnel.

The two boats are now moored and waiting for their next guests.
Canal Du Midi -  Le Somail, France

We have reached the end of our journey in the town of Le Somail.
Danna and I thank our hosts for letting us add this memory to our adventure!


Canal du Midi at  Le Somail - France


"The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them." Amelia E. Barr

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