Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Sunday, July 31, 2022

On the Midi, July 12-18

 First, a word about our “plans”. (I know, I know…)

We intend to be in the south for maybe three years. This year we are going to make our way slowly to our winter moorings in the town of Castelsarrasin on the Canal Lateral a la Garonne about 275 k from the beginning of the Midi. The canal will be hot and crowded with hireboats but we can check out possible future mooring sites along the way. Next year we will travel from Castelsarrasin back to the Midi and then back to Castelsarrasin (and probably Castets en Dorthe, about 150 k further on where the canal joins the tidal Garonne River), hopefully in better weather and less crowded conditions, and visit some of the places we’re missing this year. That will also give us a chance to visit Narbonne, the Baise and Lot Rivers and some of the places not on the main line of the canal. Year three we hope to use Oldtimer as a base, using a car to visit places we can’t reach by boat like the Pyrenees and northern Spain and inland areas of France, Bordeaux, etc. After that it will be back north. All, of course, subject to change.

It was going to be very hot for an extended period. It’s been really warm since June, really, but the next week was going to be in the upper 90’s and lower 100’s. We were going to need some shade. Luckily just between the village of Portiranges and it’s associated Portiranges Plage, we found “the spot” Tuesday just after noon and tied up.

We had a little sun in the morning and about three hours in the late afternoon but the worst parts of the day were covered. The only problem was power. We no longer have a generator and the solar panels don’t keep up with our usage in total shade so we were going to have to come up with a solution. Luckily, when I installed the new panels I left plenty of extra wire and the evening sun was right on the front of the boat. Thus, our new solar panel configuration. We were in the mooring for about 5 days and managed just fine.

We were just a 10 minute bike ride from the very nice beach so we joined the many other beach goers trying to keep cool. There was also a woman with a stand selling vegetables from her back garden just a little way down the bike path and and chicken wagon on the way into town. What more could you want?

This picture doesn’t show the full magnitude of the crowds. It was early in the day.

Wednesday night we cycled into town to enjoy the fireworks display for Fete National but the rest of the time it was bike rides in the cool morning and swim in the afternoons. Friday it was particularly hot with an afternoon temp of about 105 F. Sitting under the umbrella at the beach did no good; the breeze was like a blast furnace. Luckily the rest of the days weren’t that bad although temps were in the mid 90’s.

Sunday the weather had moderated a bit so we were off to our next stop, Beziers, 13k and four locks up the canal. We spent 4 days in this town on our car trip south last September. Since we arrived on Sunday most shops were closed so we had an opportunity to take care of some chores but there was no shade on the boat in the marina so we spent much time sitting in our chairs under the trees ashore. We also met the barge Millie and its owners John and Gill. We all spent alot of time trying to remember where we’d seen each others boats before but never came up with an answer.

While paying for the mooring in the Capitanerie I saw posters for a son et lumiere at the Cathedral Saint-Nazare and light and water display in town. After dinner we made the hike (the marina is a good distance from town and of course town is on top of the hill) and enjoyed the dancing water and lights.

In a switch, the son et lumiere takes place inside the cathedral so we joined a long line to get in for the 10:30 pm start.

No pictures of the performance as it just wouldn’t give the full effect and it wasn’t quite as spectacular as others we’ve seen like Amien Nancy or Orleans but we hadn’t seen one in several years so we enjoyed it.

The Saint-Nazere altar when not illuminated

Monday morning it was off to one of the “highlights” of the Canal, the Fonserranes lock flight. 6 locks (no, not seven despite it being called le Sept Écluses) all connected in one construction. We were in with Mille and an obviously brand new small cruiser. The registration number plate was just paper taped to the side of the boat and the captains boat handling skills were questionable, shall we say. 

Going up!

The flight is a well documented tourist attraction (huge parking lot and you have to pay to get in) and there are hoards of tourists standing on the banks. Don’t want to make any big mistakes! Considering, it all went pretty well.

From last year. The first lock going up.

It took us an hour to negotiate the flight. After the six locks the next lock is about 50 k away. We tried one bankside mooring just 15 min after the flight but after getting tied up realized that there was really no access ashore and we were right next to some smelly drainage canal so we moved on. About 12:30 we found some moorings just before the Malpas tunnel. Parts of it were marked as reserved for passenger boats but we were able to tuck in on the end; Millie on the other end. A little later the cruise director of the hotel barge Roi Soleil   appeared but he assured us there was enough room for the barge. Indeed there was so we settled in for the night.


  1. Always fun to follow you even in this heat!! It’s a crazy year all over the world. We’ve been MELTING in Northern California the last two months. Heading to Ventura today (bringing the horses back) and here for a couple weeks then to South Africa. See you next Spring. You and Mike can talk solar. He’s done a lot more install on our camper/horse trailer combo. No more generator. Hugs from both Mike & me!!!

  2. South Africa??? That is not Spain. Yes it's been very hot and looks like it will continue for at least another couple of weeks. See you in the spring!


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