Browsing the guidebooks in search of a stopping point between the Souillac area and the Mediterranean, F came across a section devoted to towns bordering the Canal du Midi--a narrow and ancient canal connecting the Med to the Atlantic. We had often dreamt of taking a barge-rental along it, and wanted to see the canal up close. Of all the towns along our route, Castelnaudary seemed best for our overnight stop.

We found a nice little hotel alongside the canal with a view of it from the second floor. Thai lunch in town across the bridge was followed by a long walk along the canal itself, as well as a lengthier exploration of the town center. Though an article in the New York Times characterized slow-motion barge trips along the French canal system as simply the chance "to spend all day waving to people", we found the waterway beautiful. It was also a nice reminder of our year-long cruise on our sailboat down the east coast of the US on the Intercoastal Waterway. Unfortunately, the rental barge-boats are either unbearably ugly--sort of aluminum RVs with pontoons, or unbearably expensive--with catered meals, onboard captain and servers, and QE2 pricing.

Next stop: the Mediterranean fishing and boating port, Sètes.



Copyright© 2003 - Darrell Taylor