With high moisture levels in the air, the droplets from a misty fog fell upon the earth this morning, thereby creating a cooler commencement to the day.
What a relief, after the burning heat of yesterday.
First lock –
another round and we had the hang of things –
what a beautiful setting. Doors in shades of pastels, geese guarding, flowers in bloom.
On Gratis continued. A stop at Avignonet – Lauragais.
Past sunflower laden fields
to an old town which had expanded well out from its beginnings, this was one of the most attractive towns visited to date and a wealthy one it was.
had been renovated and the last of the work,
the painting, was in the process of being carried out.
It was, in essence, a miniature of the Basilica in Toulouse. With the fresh deepness of colour upon the walls, it was possible to now envision the Basilica with its frescoes renewed.
Upon the Eastern section of town, the remains of towers and walls.
A tower built in 1606 to add support to the entrance gate of the town had been restored, whilst a statue of Simon de Montfort, leader of the crusade against the Cahors, was an addition to this in the 1800s.
A statue of Joan d’Arc stood nestled within a frame of green.
A short distance down the canal was Naurouze Pass, located at an elevation of 190 metres. Down a shaded avenue of the tallest trees we wandered to the old lock (the guys couldn’t help themselves).
All around, was evidence in the form of now disused equipment.
The highest spot along the canal, this was the watershed between the Mediterranean and Atlantic. On our walk here, it was possible to see the outline of what had been an octagonal basin that had once been the settling basin for waters racing down from the Black Mountains, had been used as an additional reservoir for the canal. Silting up soon afterward, a new canal was built to bypass this. The Royal Mill, one of three presented to Riquet (the canal designer/builder) by Louis X1V was lovingly restored and stands nearby.
The hard work for the day now commenced.
Four kilometres down the track commenced a run of locks (5 in 8km), a mix of singles, with a double and treble tossed in for the fun – although without the combination sets, the locks would have been placed much closer together and less time effective. The boon was having lock keepers working the multi, and in some cases even the single, locks.
At Lock Mediterrannee, we commenced the downward drop. Heading downstream through the locks was thankfully much less stressful. All of the locks now round, a gentler water motion without the gushing provided a sense of tranquillity as the boat dropped and lines were gradually released.
Over the duration of the day, dry empty fields reminded us of the paddocks back home, whilst a little further downstream, willows softened the banks.
Castelnaudary, a town of aged rampart remains, rats the size of beavers, pigeons aplenty, and small motor boats carrying tourists on a short canal voyage.
Round and bend, and there the town was.