Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Sunday, September 26, 2021

In the South, Part 2

 Wednesday when we drove from Beziers to Saint Nicholas Grave we passed through the spectacular Parc régional du Haut-Languedoc. The road climbs up through some really twisty passes and down into the village of Castres. I wish there were pictures but unfortunately it was pouring down rain and we weren’t able to stop. We wouldn’t have been able to see anything if we had.

We hit the road Thursday morning for Moissac, just about 10 minutes away from our chambres de hote in Saint Nicholas. After visiting the marina and talking with the Capitaine, Bruno, we headed off to inspect the town.

The biggest attraction is the Saint-Pierre Abbey, it’s cloister and the tympanum, the stonework around the main entrance. The building is well preserved considering the first stones were laid in the 12th century.

This is a detail of the carvings to the left of the entrance.

There is also a supposedly beautiful cloister attached to the Abbey, one of the most well preserved in the world. We’ll visit that when we return for a visit, hopefully next year

After Moissac it was on to Buzet sur Baise, where the Baize River meets the Garonne with the Lot nearby. An English couple, Kevin and Sarah, own a small cafe there with moorings. The scene reminded us of the old days at Bourgogne Marine near Saint Jean de Losne. It seems like one of those places you can just show up and they’ll find a space for you. You may be outside other boats but there will be a space. We had a nice lunch there, too!

Thursday night we managed to find a meal at the only cafe in Saint Nicholas. Unfortunately some big group was having a meal there too. Very odd as all the men were at one table and the women at another. There were more than 30 people in all. It was crowded, noisy and a little chaotic but we did get our dinner.

Friday we were off to our last stop, L’Oustal del Barry in the village of Najac. We followed the Gorges of the Aveyron and the weather was much better. On the way we stopped in two beautiful medieval villages, Saint Antonin Noble Val and Cordes sur Ciel.

Looking down one of Cordes streets.

More Cordes

Entering Saint Antonin Noble Val on the bridge across the Aveyron.

In the afternoon we arrived at our last stop, the village of Najac and its picturesque tower. 

We had a little time before the hotel opened its doors so we wandered about the streets of the village.

When we checked in our room was on the third floor (there’s an elevator!) giving us a great view over the valley of the Lot River and a look down on the kitchen garden of the hotel.

The hotel is on the villages second hill and is very nice. Plus we had a great dinner. The meal was a a fixed menu; lobster ravioli to start, followed by a roasted quail dish, local roquefort cheese and apple crumble for the cheese course and a fruit compote and ice cream desert. All were paired with wines from their cellar. When we informed our server, Sarah, that we were unfamiliar with wines from the region she substituted the main course burgundy with a gaillac, a blend of syrah, merlot and a local grape, duras, that knocked our socks off. We’ll definitely be getting more of that!

We woke up Saturday morning to a fog bank on the Lot river out our window.

We rolled out of Najac on Saturday morning for the 6 hour drive back to Briare, mission accomplished. We got a good look at the marinas along the waterways and made contact with the ones we might be interested in staying in next year if our plans work out. We also saw some beautiful scenery and wonderful old villages. Our appetites are wetted for next year!

One last shot. The village of Martel on the Dordogne River.

By 5 pm we were back to Oldtimer ready to start getting her ready for winter.


  1. What a marvellous trip, Don and Cathy Jo. Those hilltop villages are stunning aren't they? And the scenery is just jaw-dropping. It will be quite an adventure to get Oldtimer down there for starters, so I'm looking forward to hearing more of your plans!

    1. We're trying not to make too many plans as you know how those work out 😱 but we do have hopes. As we get closer to next spring maybe we'll have a better idea of how to deal with travel restrictions. Right now we're studying hard for our COVID test so we can get on the plane back to the US.

    2. Don, yes! Plans are made to be scuppered, aren't they? I did laugh at the 'studying hard for our COVID test' bit. It's quite a rigmarole isn't it? Hats off to you both for taking it on! I looked at the possibilities of going to the UK to visit my family and baulked at all the requirements. I'm saving that one for later!

  2. Loved hearing about your trip. Here’s hoping we can get out soon. As you say, hope being the operative word😆xx


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