A rainy end to 2017

September 14, 2017

We had planned to return to Castets by the end of August and to enjoy a fortnight of day trips in the car and various end of season jobs without too much pressure or rush.   As it happens, the weather has been so showery that it has been a case of dashing out on to the pontoon in between the showers in order to get the various jobs done, and take pot luck with the day trip days.

We had a very enjoyable day in Saint Emilion visiting the hermitage and the catacombs as well as the amazing monolithic church.  This was carved out of the limestone rock and is effectively mostly below the surrounding ground.  The excavated limestone was then sold to pay for the construction of the church.  On the next level of the town the enormous and heavy bell tower is built.  It is so heavy that the church below has to be reinforced with enormous metal structures to stop it from caving in on itself!   We also did the inevitable mooching round wine shops and investigating the claims that Saint Emilion makes the best macaroons as well as the best wine.   All in all a very enjoyable day out including a nice lunch where we managed our own little wine tasting with two different Saint Emilion wines.  We liked them both!

Another day was spent at the coastal resort of Arcachon.   We started off at the yacht club where we had a splendid view of the bay and all its activity.  As in the étang de Thau there are a lot of oyster beds and so many fishing boats going out from the port which is just near the marina.  The marina is enormous with many hundreds of boats, mostly small yachts and motor cruisers, many of which were stacked on racks holding boats six high.   We would have liked to have seen boats being removed and replaced in these racks but there was very little activity in the marina.  The French season ends very abruptly at the end of August and there was an autumnal atmosphere, both in the port and in the town.

Our final visit was to the so-called  royal château of Cazeneuve.   It turned out to have been royal only in so far as the king Henri IV used the castle to imprison his first wife! Margot, whilst he organised his divorce from her when she proved unable to supply him with an heir.   It is still lived in by descendants of the family and has some wonderful historical stories and artefacts.  The castle is very well maintained and clearly is much visited, though our guide did rather lack enthusiasm even though she knew her facts.   ( I used to think that this was the French way of guiding, but our young and smiley guide at Saint Emilion had been the mistress of the fascinating anecdote which brought the buildings to life for the visitor.).

The rest of our time in Castets has been spent painting the odd tiny mark discovered at the end of the season (skipper), washing all the saloon curtains one by one and by hand ( crew), replacing the cockpit windows ( both skipper and crew and never a cross word!), removal of the Bimini  and installing the tonneau cover, treating the teak for the winter, and so on.  There are lots of jobs which cannot be done until the final day, but apart from them, we are reaching the point where the engine has been serviced and winterised, and the boat is largely ready for winter.   It has been an enjoyable summer with a lot of favourite ports revisited (Toulouse, Castelnaudary, Moissac) and some new ones discovered (Narbonne, Capestang).  We have travelled 851km and been through 234 locks.  We have had some fun time with our guests and as always we have made new friends on the canal.  We love this part of France, and apart from these dodgy days at the end of the season, we like the climate down here,  as well as the wine and the food!  We have seen some crazy things ( the  bread distributor in Caumont), and had some fascinating conversations ( thank you, Liz -I am glad that we found one another!).   We both love France now.  David has crashed through the barrier of inhibition and makes up words and makes himself understood with abandon and a smile.  It is wonderful to behold.




Day out in car
Laden vines in St Emilion
Grapes nearly ready for harvesting
St Emilion


Rosie Hedges:
September 14, 2017
Sounds fabulous. So glad you've had a good season. Welcome back to the rain and cloud.
Roberta Bailey:
September 14, 2017
Hi Anne,

So this year's adventure is coming to an end? I shall miss your blogs! I hope we will coincide in the UK sometime soon - we are currently in very rainy Paris for a wedding, then off to Turkey for a month, so hope to see you towards the end of October! Love to skipper and crew, Roberta xxx
Lou & Terri:
September 14, 2017
Hi Anne and David, thanks again for a most informative and interesting blog, we love reading them and and imagine that we are there enjoying your and our past adventures. Long may they continue.

Kindest regards Lou & Terri
Sharlene Coss:
September 15, 2017
Hello from France. We left the Le Boat 'Clipper 19' this morning and are in Bordeaux. The weather sucked, Saintes was lovely but I would definitely give the Charente a miss. Lots of villages but no moorings and few with water and power. But then the food and wine are awesome, so at the end of the day - it was all good! Sure enjoyed being back on a boat but my body is 5 years older and told me so quite often!

Will await your blogs for 2018.
Best regards - Sharlene and Phil
Liz Hunsaker:
October 2, 2017
I enjoyed reading your blog, and I was so glad to have met you! I hope we will have more time together on the canals!
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