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May 7 – Languedoc. Well the long, tortuous window caper has finally ended (we hope) but not without more pain and screw-ups. Missing yet were all the struts & latches that hadn’t come with the window and were hoped to piece from Lydie’s scarce inventory. We were waiting for the employee to return to work and a shipment of 2 more handles. But then they arrived a day late, to her Brother’s store in Montauban instead, and without any of the mounting hardware. Typical of everything this woman has done! I wonder who helps her get dressed in the morning?  Happily I volunteered to drive to her brother’s & have him complete the installation, who also had all the missing parts in stock.  Half hour later, 10 months of delays & mistakes were all behind us. Rolly had a new eye in the middle of his forehead. And we just kept driving…out of the rainy midlands…around Toulouse…past Carcassonne…straight to the Canal du Midi in Trebes,  where it was sunny and lots of boats were waiting to pass the locks:

It takes about 45 minutes to pass the 3-stage lock at Trebes, rising at least 25' going West. There are 63 locks between Cap d’Agde and Carcassonne. If there is heavy traffic, much of your day could be spent waiting your turn. The full trip might take 6 days.

Many of the boats are self piloted rentals from Le Boat, a German conglomerate with agencies at ports all along the way. The Savannah is a typical hotel ship rentable for your entourage with captain, cook & hostess. Like all waterfronts, there are areas of open and liberal access.

After tapas & wine at a canal-side bistro I drove on to Homps, another canal port where I’d met Fabienne 3 years ago at the Chevaliers de Malta wine cooperative outlet. Her husband and sons have begun their own vineyard and label in the St. Chinian AOC.

Fabienne recommended Le Somail, another picturesque port with nice restaurants & camping, on my way to Minerve the next day.

The Languedoc is like Northern California with it’s scrubby foliage, olive trees, palms, warm climate grapes Grenache & Syrah – 10` warmer than Oregon, everything is now in bloom. Finally some sun in this wet grey Spring!  Settled between the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Southern feet of the Central Massif, it’s well watered, windy and rocky. Many a ridge & gap has a row of wind turbines fanning away.

The wine areas of St Chinian and Minervois climb the chalky clay terrain to the North, where the unfortunate Cathars made their refuge in the 10th – 14th Centuries.  Minerve was one of their signature cities - perched on a narrow, rocky promontory between two river canyons, surrounded by water and only accessible from a narrow causeway to the North, it has an ideally defensible position overlooking a lush valley.

After visits to the Archaeological and Cathar Museums and chats with Michelle, the historian keeper, I found this delicious lunch at the Table de Troubadours restaurant and then collapsed for a much needed rest. The Southeast beckons, I’m headed for the Cote, with stop in Arles.



Happy Trails, Yrselves,



PS: I think I’ve found my solution to the French full-meal custom, Too Much Too Early, Too Much Too Late!  Eat late on the Mid-day meal but only choose the plat d’jour – usually a featured main dish that comes with exotic greens, veggies & carbo anyway, costs only 9 or 10 euros, and is prepared & presented with the same finesse as the too-full meal deal! ☺


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