France's 270-mile shortcut between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic is comprised of two sections. The southern portion, which runs from the Mediterranean to Toulouse, is the Canal du Midi, built in the 17th century. Two hundred years later, the Canal de Garonne, along with the Garonne River, connected Toulouse to the Atlantic near Bordeaux. This amazing feat of hydraulic engineering has a fascinating history, some of which I will share here as we continue our journey.
|A peniche docked along the canal|
With lunch back at the car, we decided to turn around after an hour. I brought the grub: ham and butter sandwiches on baguettes, crudeties, oranges and homemade peanut butter cookies. Philippe brought beer and wine, with a '92 poire calvados (pear brandy) to top it off. As usual, the more we drank, the better we could understand Philippe, and, we fancied, the more graceful our French became.
A little later, a little drunk, we headed south on an unsuccessful quest for coffee. Even though we didn't find an open cafe, we explored le Mas d'Agenais'' massive church and pretty lavoir before heading home.
What a perfect start to our canal quest.