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Trip Report: 10 wonderful days in the Dordogne and 10 not so wonderful days on the Canal du Midi

Trip Report: 10 wonderful days in the Dordogne and 10 not so wonderful days on the Canal du Midi

Oct 27th, 2007, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Susanna, what a great trip report, thanks. The canal trip is something we have thought about but never done,.... after your experiences... we might just keep thinking about it!!! You poor thing to fall into the water, yuk. We are all waiting for the next installment. Can it get worse? Schnauzer
schnauzer is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Susanna, thanks for the heads up. I'll not consider a canal trip on the Midi, that's for sure. I'm sorry it wasn't much fun, or relaxing as you'd hoped.
Oct 27th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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NeoPatric: you owe me big time!
AGM: that was my biggest fear, falling into the lock. Did he fall in when the water was rushing in to raise it or when it was going down?
Michael: old stones would be better but I don't know about 50 more locks
Sue: I understand your friends pain, I'm glad you are all getting a laugh, just like my shipmates!
Annhig: I'll check that book out,thanks.
susanna is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 07:37 PM
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The next event, not exactly sure if it was the next day....we again pull over to the bank and wait for the lock. The lock keepers wife has made quince and fig jams so we put some aside and are going back to the boat for some money. I walk out through the sliding glass door and trip on the metal lip, face first down onto the gravel, rip my pants, knee, elbow, cry fest again. The woman comes out to help me up, my tailbone is killing me and I can't get up, finally do, she runs inside and gets my jam, doesn't want me back in the store I think....back to the boat wiping my tears, everyone, "what's wrong?"... "stop laughing"
OK, now it is impossible for me to even get off of the boat, I have to gingerly sit down and kind of slide onto the bank.

We end up in Carcassone, the weather is starting to clear up, we are so happy. We can finally hang our ONE towel out to dry after our showers, we can hose down the deck which is covered with mud and poo, there is an actual town where we find a laundry service and they wash all our clothes as well as the towels and floor mats, everything is sooooo dirty. We go to the castle which is spectacular, make a dinner reservation, life is good again. We sit up on top and have cocktails and make friends with our neighbor boats, this is what it is suppose to be. We like it so much we stay for two nights and go to the farmer's market the second morning before taking off.

We take off and the canal really is beautiful, but , it is the same beauty everyday, it doesn't change much, and it starts to rain again on and off for the remainder of the trip, we are starting to feel like the movie ground hog's day . F and I play cards, J watches movies on his dvd and DH reads 3 books. We reach the town where we can trade in our bikes for better ones, we walk around a little, buy more food for dinner since we can't seem to be in the right town on the right night when the one restaurant is open.

The rain picks up and then we have some amazing wind and we are going down the canal sort of sideways. Afterwards we hear of some people who were over by Provence on a boat and had to stay put for two days because of the wind! Again , the locks. F &I do the ropes, DH is driving from the inside, I come back in... and slip... and bounce down the three stairs on my ....all at once now...tailbone!!! Stop Laughing, is there some disease that starts with being clumsy, no, you are just out of your element, you're a city girl...lucky me! I am a total invalid now, the bruises on my bum take 3 days to fully develop into lines that resemble the steps and every inch of my body hurts, I am living on Advil and wine.

OK, we want to get to the end and we are in a stretch that doesn't have any locks, hallelujah. It seems that each morning we start out the same time as a few other boats do and we are all going pretty much the same speed and we are in the locks together. We have met some very nice people, we all help each other,chat it up, try to have fun but there is always someone difficult. We call them the nervous nellys, they don't want us too close, don't touch their ropes, they tie the boat up so tight we think that it will tip over when the water goes down AND , if the boat wasn't going slow enough already, they are in the lead and going SLOWER. We want to pass them but the canal isn't wide enough and the boat isn't fast enough. In my compromised state the only thing I can do to help my shipmates is go ask them to let us pass. Conversation: we are trying to get to X this evening, when we all get out of this lock would you please let us pass you...we are also trying to get somewhere tonight...but our town is farther away than yours...well, you aren't suppose to go that fast on the canal...the boat doesn't go very fast...well, it's bad for the environment...what are you the canal police, move over....dirty looks at us but they agree. So they are first out of the canal, second will be the boat in front of us with Spanish folks and then us. I go over to the Spanish boat to tell them our plan, they speak Spanish, I speak Italian, we both have a little french and we all do the pantomime. They finally get what I am saying....NO, they say, we go too!!! The nervous nellys aren't going to be happy about this, I choose not to tell them and we all exit the lock, the Spanish boat passes them and then we do, the Spanish folks all give me a thumbs up and the nervous nellys give us dirty looks the rest of the day. What's up with them?

We get to the end about 36 hours before we need to be. It is only about 2k from the Mediterranean so we are planning to go to the beach and hang out all day, except that it is pouring. We stay in the boat, have dinner and wait. ,The next morning it is still raining and I say I'd be happy in a hotel room in a town tonight, we packed up and cleaned our boat in record time, called a hotel for a room in Beziers and got out of Dodge. The hotel is odd, a mix of modern and faded glory, it is Sunday and everything is closed and it is raining on and off and we couldn't be happier! We go out for lunch and watch part of the rugby match with the locals, life is good.

Would we do this again? I don't know. It was a memorable adventure, when the weather was good it was fun. When we did go for our 1 bike ride it was fabulous, the countryside is flat and full of vineyards and the riding is easy. I might like to be where there were more villages and more places to visit. I would only want to do this in good weather, which you can't guarantee. I would want the water to be clean so you could swim in it, or at least not worry about infection.

We train back to Paris and are staying at the airport Hilton for $100 on priceline. F&I jump on the RER and go to Paris for a shopping spree at BHV, god I love that store. We have an early dinner at Tavern Henry IV, my favorite little wine bar, and I am back in my element and happy as a clam. We leave the next morning back to SF and I am already thinking about my return trip to Paris in the winter where I know I won't fall even once.

susanna is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 11:42 PM
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susanna (Oh, don't you cry for me!)LOL!
It's 9.30 Sunday morning. My DH and I are sitting at our appropriate computers in the study and I start to read your trip report out loud - the part where you are having the time of your lives on Canal Du Midi.
We are falling off chairs with laughter!!
Thank you so much for posting this hillarious sequence of events - only to remind us of our little narrowboat trip down the Grand Union Canal finally tying up for three days in Nottingham before putt-putting back up the River Soar in pouring rain and wearing black plastic trashbags to keep dry - what a sight for sore eyes.
Thanks again for the laugh!
tod is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 04:32 AM
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Great report. Don't think we'll try the barge thing though.

One summer we rented a houseboat with another couple and it rained 6 of the 7 days. As you said you enjoyed it when the weather was good but you can't count on the weather.

Glad you survived the experience with your sense of humor intact.

Royal is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 04:59 AM
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Susan has a great sense of humour (and her DH too!)and I'm not surprised she could cope with that with a smile.
What a laugh Susan!
cocofromdijon is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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Great report susanna !!! I would never consider a boat trip on the canal - but my wife has mentioned several times that she likes the idea. I intentionally left this thread "up" on our PC so she could read it...

I'll stick with bike rides through the lavender fields of Provence & canoe trips on the Dordogne.

Stu Dudley
from the SF Bay Area
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Oct 28th, 2007, 07:50 AM
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Oh Susan! What a trip. Can I bring you a pillow to sit on?
Grassshopper is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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Thanks for confirming everything I've ever suspected about those canal trips. I'm printing this for a friend who has been telling us for 10 years it would be the greatest thing in the world.

For the tailbone you have my sympathies. I have friends who won't even walk on an icy sidewalk with me because they've seen such spectacular pratfalls.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 01:14 PM
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Hey Grassshopper, long time no hear...YES, bring the pillow!

Actually it's been three weeks now and I can finally walk normally!

Stu and hopingtotravel: It is a good idea... in theory.

Thanks Coco for making me post this, I'm glad everyone is enjoying it.
susanna is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 01:17 PM
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Susanna, luckily it was before the lock was activated. Like I said my BIL pulled him out by the back of his sweatshirt. We had fun though. My 10 year old nephew had a ball driving the boats.
AGM_Cape_Cod is online now  
Oct 28th, 2007, 02:39 PM
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Thanks for the wonderful report - the part in the Dordogne reminded me of our great trip there this Spring. And the canal trip, sorry to say for your sake, was a hoot!

My DH, long ago, fell in a lake (Maggiore, I think) in Italy as I encourage him to step just a little further out on the sloped embankment to feed the ducks and geese. So it was my fault. I'm not sure how he got back up. Luckily, his pants were dark, so it wasn't too noticeable as he squelched his way back to the hotel to change, where I blow-dried our money as he showered (luckily I was carrying the passports that day). So we all have our little embarrassing stories.
Lexma90 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 05:01 PM
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We contemplated a barge holiday on the Canal du Midi several years back and your report confirmed what I thought to be true. We did visit the region and while there decided to take a one hour tour on the canal and that was enough to satisfy our curiousity.

We stayed in Beziers for a few nights and on our first day there walked down to the canal. It seemed like a long walk down a very busy roadway to get to it...not at all what we had expected. The view of the canal from the top of town was lovely but I could see if you had to buy provisions and walk them back to the canal it would be a terrible chore.

I enjoyed your report and photos on the Dordogne and will treat the Canal du Midi portion as a cautionary tale. I could easily see myself in your position as I am a city girl to the core. It seemed like more work than I would invite on my holiday time.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 05:03 PM
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We just returned from a barge trip in Burgundy. Boy, am I glad I didn't read this before going! Your posts were really a treat.

I will say that a good barging experience is largely dependent on weather. We were supposed to have rainy weather the whole week, but miraculously, it never got really bad. We were very aware all along of how different (horrible) it could have been.

We also went in the low season. Saw few other boats except for a busy Sunday which was a taste of what summer must be like. Not for me!

Any of you still interested after reading this account should look at Locaboat. The boat we took (FB1500) was magnificent. It had radiators in each cabin and each bathroom, so drying towels and handwashables was easy.

The bikes were sturdy and in excellent condition. We just didn't get to use them as much as we'd have liked to.

They offered a Market Basket service whereby we ordered many of the basics, including heavier items like water. We still had to shop the first night and almost every day thereafter (for 8 people!) but there was a critical mass of food, etc. on board when we arrived.

The staff at Locaboat was great. Good communication and everything they promised was delivered. (Food, equipment, taxi connections, charts, etc.)

Finally, on the advice of someone here, we chose a route with as few locks as possible. Only 23 in a week. It was still a lot of work on two days and we did have a few slightly harrowing experiences, but I can't imagine doing the trips that involve 50-80 locks in a week. Gads!

We cruised from St. Leger sur Dheune to Loisy. And we are already looking at doing it again, next summer in Ireland!
Amy40 is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 02:17 AM
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I can only find the Dordogne 2 slideshow. What am I doing wrong??

Stu Dudley
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Oct 29th, 2007, 06:05 AM
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Stu, when you get to the 1st page, click on "Browse all albms (2)" then you see small pictures in the middle of the screen. Scroll down the photos of Dordogne 2 and you'll see Canal du Midi with all the pics. Click on one of them to open the slideshow. Unusual I reckon.

Rain in le Midi, sun in Burgundy you know where to go now! ;-)
Amy40 I'm glad you had a great barge trip. I hope you liked Dijon too. Say hello to Harvey and Joanie for me
cocofromdijon is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 06:21 AM
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Susana, Wonderful trip report, thank you. I'm sorry you had problems with the staff at the Hotel Muguet. I would just like to say that I found them to be extremely helpful. They relayed a phone message for me from the States, made dinner reservations, and mailed post cards when I was scrambling around on the last day. With regard to taxis, they told me that it would be easier and cheaper to go a few blocks to the main street, which is what I did and found one with no problem. Louisa
LouisaH is online now  
Oct 29th, 2007, 07:28 AM
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Yes, I've never understood the idea of calling a taxi if there is a regular taxi stop within a few blocks of the hotel. I hate having a taxi arrive early, or biting my nails while waiting for one when I can get one immediately at a nearby corner. Plus I'd rather not have to pay the extra charges for them to come to me.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Oct 29th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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Dear Susan,
Thanks for the posting. Even though you told me the highlights of the trip, seeing the pictures was even more enjoyable.
Take care.
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