South from Bordeaux is the Canal du Garonne and a perfect route for clocking up miles away from the cold and wet mornings. Built in the 1860’s, it arrived just in time to be made obsolete by the railway that now runs alongside it for most of the way. The towpath is sheltered from the elements by lines of densely packed mature plain trees. Cycling a 100km is a day is effortless on this surface, a stark contrast to the tens of thousands of people that must have laboured for years to cut or raise its waters through this landscape.
At one of the many campsites on the way I passed a pleasant evening with a family following a similar route. They had two children, the eldest being four. Situated in the shadow of a crumbling old chateau, it was a fine setting to share my wine purchase from Jean-Marie. Finished off with Port wine and stumbled back to find the tent.
The hardest thing about this trip is keeping all my gear in one place. There are a number of rules, lanyards, clips and routines for making sure I dont leave anything behind and today my first major casualty, my camera tripod. As usual, it it involves a major backtrack to where it was last used, in this case the tower in St Emilion. A 3 hour round trip back to the tourist information office yielded nothing.
Following the canal I rolled in to La Reole, my final destination. Staying here was not an option as the campsite had been flooded and the ground was ‘contaminee’ according to the posters. 8km later I was camped next to a French tourer on a recumbent trike. He was delighted to show me how he zips a hood to enclose the whole seat and luggage area. “It is very useful in this weather we are having”. He’s not wrong there!
Moissac is worth a visit for the street scene and Abbey. The carving on the entrance is amusing, the rich man on his death bed with the demons taking his soul and purse while his wife weeps.
Chatted to an Australian couple, Ginny & Geoff from Sidney, Ginny originally from Cornwall. We were even joined by a Californian couple who, get this, didn’t own a car! A very pleasant afternoon and a welcome break from the canal.
Although the canal makes a great route, it predominantly features, well, a canal lined with trees. Sometimes a tree is missing, mostly not. Locks and not many boats. Roll on Toulouse