6. Agen, Canal de Garonne


The drive South, from Le Mans – through Tours, Saumur, Cholet, Niort, and Saintes to Bordeaux was an uneventful 500 km drive (OK David – 300 miles) – and we only got lost once. Another of our famous ‘left turns’ at Bordeaux – and a final 150 km dash through the lush Garonne Valley (and Sauternes region)  to Agen – to take delivery of the boat by 3:00 pm.

Then a radical change in pace for the next 7 days…

Across the famous Agen Canal Bridge – down through 4 locks to the Canal de Garonne – several more locks – a tight turn at Buzet – another lock – and down into the River Baise. Two full days, cruising at 4 knots, to the navigation limits at Valence sur Baise. And back again – slowly this time – five days – through the 17th Century (and older) villages of Condom – Moncrabeau – Nerac – Lavardac – Vianne – Buzet (again) and back across the Canal Bridge to Agen.  Glorious places… 

We’ll tell the story in pictures – and keep the captions brief…


Never piloted a boat OVER a bridge before… You sure this thing will fit?

REALLY sure?

Yup… Just!

Going Down? Our first of many locks…

What happens if I pull this?

What do I do with this coil of rope?

And this one? (Some people never learn!)

The American Lady from the Rick Stein Series video…

A new skipper emerges…

Buzet – and a reflective moment for Keith. The text pulls no punches!

No – NO! You tie it like this – here, let me show you…

JB took a taxi back to Agen – retrieved his bike – & he was waiting for us in Lavardac!

A bridge somewhere… One of many…

Yes – he fished… No – he didn’t catch a pike… so shut-up OK?

Lavardac on a quiet Sunday evening…

We were NOT able to choose the name of our boat!

A dancing (Canadian) lock keeper…

Just another Chateau… I could have cropped the picture better…

A younger (non-dancing) lock keeper…

Nerac – where our pilot had (just a little) trouble exiting the lock…

This is the one – even the bow thrusters couldn’t handle the cross current… well – that’s MY excuse!

…before mooring gracefully for the night…

So peaceful…

What’s he thinking?

JB on the camera?

And wandering the streets of old Nerac…


Sundry sunburned sailors…

Patricia’s the world’s best cook – but can she…?

“Caution, slow down in 150 metres, cows drinking. Thank you!”

Keeping an eye on his bike…


Day after day – boring landscapes…

Patricia! Stop that!

Rose from Maman’s private supply – a toast to absent friends…

“Not me Officer – I never touch the stuff…”

Our lock keeper – resting…

Two Little Maids from Spain are we… JB’s fan club

What’s that up ahead?

Bow rope duty (in the locks) was the hardest…

John, David and Patricia

OK – so what now? Turn around – and go back…


We wanted to go ashore – and those rotten buggers wouldn’t let us…

40 years ago, WE looked like that too…

What the bloody hell are they doing? Waiting for the lock to clear ahead…

On the Fore Deck…

Still on the fore deck…

On the Poop Deck…

Keith wanted this picture – but I can’t remember why…

So – we arrived back in Agen – and, as you can see, we had a terrible time – did not enjoy ourselves at all…  we were to return the boat that afternoon – but before that we went ashore to do a few things …

…and a very strange thing happened…


JP’s big surprise – read on…

 

 

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