Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Escape from Nérac, June 24-29

 So the great cleanup began. 

Both walkways alongside the river through Nérac were now completely covered in mud. I managed to make a path for Carl and Janna to make it to the stairway up to the road so they get their taxi without getting muddy up to their ankles and they departed for Agen by taxi just after noon on Friday. Over the weekend the municipal workers showed up across the river with a big pump and fire hose to begin washing down the walkway.

Monday afternoon my next guests, Jenny and Adrian, arrived. 

The river was closed because of all the debris in the water so we would be enjoying the sights of Nérac for a few days.

I first met Jenny way back in 2009 when she was cruising aboard her English river cruiser Misty Morning. She and her husband Tom had been cruising English waterways and decided they wanted to give the French canals a try. Unfortunately, Tom died suddenly but Jenny carried on with her plans, doing what I am doing this year, arranging for friends to join her for crew. Some years later she met Adrian and they began boating together. After a couple of years they sold Misty Morning and bought Piedaleau, a much larger canal barge. (A link to Jenny’s blog is on the right). Last year they sold the barge but, as true Francophiles, they didn’t want to give up cruising altogether so have been visiting friends around France this year. They will spend a week on Oldtimer, maybe cruising.

I slid across the river while there was a break in the hosing down so they wouldn’t have to carry their luggage down the stairs and then scooted back across the river before we go hosed off too.

That evening we decided to check out an unusual waterside restaurant, La Vert Galant. They advertised 80 different varieties of ice cream. What we didn’t know was that many of the flavors are savory and a scoop is served with every dish. My aperitif was a slightly sparkling dry white wine with foie gras ice cream and my main course came with an ice cream made with roasted bell pepper and the basque spice piment d’espelette. Both were very good!

Tuesday was they day the city was going to start cleaning our side of the river so we again slid across. It turned out Tuesday was also the day the newly washed parking lot was going to be transformed into a producers market with many of the local restaurants, wineries, etc. setting up booths for the evening. There would even be entertainment by the local municipal band. No cooking that night. We enjoyed the bounty of Nérac.

The trip boat captain had told up he thought the river would be open on Wednesday so lat that morning we wandered down to the lock and pushed the button to se if we could activate the lock and leave. The lights indicated the lock was working but nothing happened. I called the service phone number and the person who answered said they were clearing downed trees but would check out the lock “later.” We assumed that meant after lunch so we headed off for lunch and a beer, within sight of the lock. I had just finished my beer when I noticed that the lock was full and the doors were open. Off we went!

Looking back toward Nérac. The lock is 

behind that wall on the right.

You can just see Oldtimer on the left.

We’re across the river to avoid the firehose 

and be closer to dinner.

The sun sets while we wait to see 

if we will be able to proceed in the morning.

We had to work our way around a couple of downed trees and there was a lot of damage to the banks but when we reached the fourth lock about 4:30,  the work boat was tied up in the lock and we couldn’t go any further. We troped to the waiting pontoon, assuming that the crew would be out in the morning and we could proceed. Instead, the captain showed up about an hour later and asked what we were doing there. The river was still closed, he said. We claimed ignorance (not far from the truth) and asked if we would be able to proceed Thursday morning. He said he would have to ask his boss and would see us in the morning.

When the work crew turned up about 8:30 am, the captain told us that his boss said we could proceed but that officially the river was still closed and we would have to do that at our own risk. We happily agreed and set off about 10 am. By 12:30 we were off the river and back onto the Lateral canal headed for our next stop, Serignac-sur-Garonne.