Carcassonne 2017

June 6, 2017 - Carcassonne, France

We are now in Carcassonne again.   We have a favoured mooring spot between the lock by Marengo bridge and the SNCF lock and we were lucky enough to be allocated it once more.   Today is market day and so we nipped up to the market in the Bastide Saint-Louis which we found a bit lacklustre, though we did manage to find some tasty looking sausages in the Halle.   We then finally succeeded in having a meal at Le Cathare, a restaurant we have been trying to eat at since last year.   We had a nice lunch preceded by a coupe de champagne to celebrate our wedding anniversary which was yesterday.  Le Cathare was a little bit eccentric - not at all ritzy, though excellent food, and a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere.   We were happy.

The journey from Toulouse has been not without incident.   Indeed Toulouse itself was rather action-packed.  As we arrived at our mooring in the port our engine stalled and once restarted refused to go into gear.  Luckily, we were able to tie up and then try to work out what was going on.  There being nobody remotely mechanically inclined aboard Cassandra, it really was a team effort by all the other plaisanciers in the port.   Steve diagnosed that there was something wrapped around the propeller; Tony provided the goggles and the sharp knife; Pierre heroically donned the mask and dived under the hull to cut away and carry up large quantities of tarpaulin.   The rest of us stood watching in admiration, or in my case calling out incessantly to Pierre not to take any risks with his own safety.   The pompiers (from the fire station conveniently situated nearby) stood  by disapprovingly saying that they would have happily checked it out for us and that their guys had all the kit, not to mention inoculations for diving in the dirty city water.  But Pierre was young, impatient and up for a challenge and in no time he had removed the tarpaulin and Cassandra had moved to another more suitable position in the port.   We were delighted and hours later were travelling back to London for a long weekend at home.

On our return to Toulouse we set off up the canal du midi after a rather unsatisfactory shopping trip.  It was yet another holiday day in France and the shelves in the only open metro shop near the port were pretty bare.   It really didn't matter though.  We had plenty of food for the five days it took us to reach Castelnaudary, including one day when we were mostly tied up because of high wind.  We always enjoy stopping at the summit of the canal du midi and walking through the centre of the space which was meant to be the reservoir for the canal, but proved unsuitable.  This year we stepped in to the rather tumbledown mill which is now a sort of brasserie/restaurant run by an English/French couple. Our French friend Marie-Anne who was with us  for this stretch ( and excellent crew she was too!) commented that the cuisine or at least presentation of it was distinctively British, but I don't think I would have recognised this without her insight.   In any case, the food was good, as was the beer.

When we were stopped by the wind we were beside the Not pottery which we had never previously visited, so it was a chance to go in and see the artisan pottery for garden and kitchen use which they have been producing for almost two hundred years.   The style of their dishes for the local dish of cassoulet are now very much associated with the dish itself.

The next day the wind died down and we cruised calmly down into the port of Castelnaudary where Marie-Anne jumped in her car and rejoined the 21st Century.  We do love this place, not least because we feel the spirit of our dear little Bonnie is still here.   We know  a lovely Cairn also  called Bonnie ( and her owner, Michèle) who live near the port, so it was good to catch up with them as well.

This year we have been moving the car along with us as we did last year.   It is a bit of a mixed blessing.  It means that the car is sometimes with us and available for a trip to an out-of-town supermarket, but it also means that skipper has to do convoluted and time-consuming trips by train to fetch the car and repark it in the next port.  This time it was at least available for us to drive ahead to recce ports for Cassandra for the month of July.    We had a day out visiting the ports of Capestang, Béziers, Colombiers and Narbonne with a nice meal at Poilhes, a port we would have liked to consider, but we were told emphatically that it is full.  It was a very useful trip  and we managed to meet the capitaine and fill out forms for him at Capestang, our chosen port.   Once we had done this, we were back on board and ready to head towards Carcassonne.   The first lock out of Castelnaudary is a splendid staircase of four locks which always seems to be manned by the same super-efficient lockkeeper.   He has to be quick as there is a popular hireboat base in Castelnaudary and he has to send many boats through in quick succession.   There were already boats travelling down, but we managed to start off our journey with a lock to ourselves for the staircase.   This is a luxury we shall not have much for the busy part of the canal du midi which we are now entering.

Between Castelnaudary and Carcassonne there are some delightful rural and village moorings, and one of the bonuses of being in a busy and much used part of the canal is that there are plenty of mooring posts for tying up for the night securely.   We are now entering a section of the canal which we have not been in since 2015, so we plan to slow down even more and stop often.  We are already total snails compared to the hire-boats who all cover enormous distances at high speed, and often in unsafe conditions.   This afternoon there has been a high wind with gusts of 60 kph.   Cassandra is safely tied up, but we have watched a succession of hire-boats crash into Marengo bridge and one poor crew-member fall overboard in the lock when the boat crashed into the lock side.  I was glad to see him swim safely to the ladder on the lockside, and emerge just a bit wet, but otherwise unhurt.


Out of Canal de Garonne into Canal du Midi
Lock outside Toulouse rail station
Toulouse roads beside canal
Port St Sauveur, Toulouse


June 6, 2017
I do love to read your posts and glad that you and David are, once again, enjoying life on the water. Do you have plans to spend a long time in the region? We will be in Pezenas from July 28th to August 7th.. it would be great to see you if you're anywhere close? Bon vacances! Suzy
Lou & Terri:
June 7, 2017
Bringing back many happy memories, delightful reading, keep them coming, thank you, best wishes Lou & Terri
Katinka Jameson:
June 8, 2017
Lovely to hear what is happening on the other side of the Channel. I have a wonderful picture of young Pierre braving the water as the pompiers stand by disapprovingly!
Our big excitement today is heading to the polling station. Could be interesting.....
Katinka and Leo x
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