Thursday, April 26, 2018

Canal du Garonne - Castelsarrasin to Buzet sur Baise

Spring is here!

We eased into the next canal, the Canal du Garonne, just west of Toulouse. After a 90 degree turn at the last lock, a whole new landscape greeted us - voila, winter is over.

Approaching village of Castelsarrasin.

Self-service lock gate operation - only one button to push - unless it's not working, then use 2nd button to speak to lockkeeper in your best pidgin French to ask for "aide s'il vous plait"

Heading towards Moissac - home of L'Abbaye de Moissac (the Abbey) and along the path of the pilgrim's route for the Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle en France.

Spring babies

We chug along westward ho on the Canal du Garonne. It connects to the Garonne River and to Bordeaux but we are planning to stop at Buzet. Captain is not willing to risk further issues with le bateau on waterways that are reported to be thick with weeds and risky with strong currents. Admiral concurs. We have filled our le bateau adventure pot with enough boat issues already.

As Judy wisely pointed out, German engineering is great if the German engineer is around when something goes wrong - voila our spaghetti of electrical connections! All this for a little not-even-10 meter boat. Previous owner sure had a lot of fun with this.

Highlights from the Canal du Garonne - less traffic, more peaceful, just as beautiful, lower cost, smaller villages, more countryside, farms and industry, compared to the Canal du Midi. Definitely worth the trip.


One of the best stops on the canal. Village is just a perfect Goldilocks size - not too big, not too small, and a little of everything we'd desire - excellent boulangerie and bucherie, little U grocery shop. Would be nice to have a Carrefour city and excellent fromage shop too, but one can't have it all.
Excellent bakery with hard to find super dark bread, as good as the one in Castlenaudary. And the special Noz shop - sort of a little Ross and Grocery Outlet combination, but more untidy and varied, and really cheap deals.

Castelsarrasin Marina
Capitanery and Tourist office by the docks. Wonderful friendly staff. Showers accessible only during office hours, but clean and with hairdryer. Wifi in the vicinity of the office area only.

A serendipitous find - great Japanese restaurant in Castelsarrasin, reasonable too, recommended by locals. Our 3rd choice after 2 local restaurants that were supposed to be open were not.

Music Festival in Castelsarrasin - Festival Grain du Sel - Grain of Salt Festival (May 18 - 20)
The largest of 3 stages is just across the canal from our tie-up.

Market day on Thursday, vendors filling the streets of Castelsarrasin.

Heading towards the Point de vue de la Vierge.

The Virgin's view.

Town of Moissac and Le Tarn river. 
The Canal du Garonne, the marina, and out boat, are hidden by the row of trees just before Le Tarn. 

Notes on a few marinas we've visited:

Moissac marina
Captain Jim at Capitanery is a gem.
Old shower room with coded entry at any time. wifi at office area only.

Rickety jetty at Boe.
Capitanery person was a no-show after he said he'd show up at 10am, on May 1. Small capitanery structure. Arrived Sunday, they are closed Sunday and Monday, and of course Tuesday on May 1. Electric plug worked. Water in taps. But no other facilities mentioned in the Guide Fluvial book were available.

Morning mist at Boe.

Valence d'Agen.
Self-service marina. Pay at the kiosk for water and electricity. No capitanery. Public shower stalls in converted remodeled slaughterhouse across the bridge. Nice and clean, but Not for me! Town has biggest Casino supermarket we've seen so far though.

And, it is a 3 hour roundtrip walk to the charming village of Auvillar - more on that in the Chenin St Jacques post.

 Buzet sur-Baise
Good facilities, nice well staffed Capitanery. Buzet wine co-op - free wine tasting, excellent value for good wines, in the shadow of neighboring Bordeaux but not shabby at all. Best restaurant for value and meal at Le Vigneron - all you can eat dessert tray selection included the famous il flotante - killer dessert of meringue floating on sweet heavy cream.

Pearly drops of rain, illuminating a resident spider's webs.