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Old 07-10-2018, 12:58 AM   #21
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An update on the French Foreign Legion.
French nationals are now allowed to join. When you join you surrender your passport, you can then choose any name (as long as it's not offensive) for the duration of your service. At the end of your service you can either recover your birth name or, become a French national under your chosen legion name.
You will not be accepted if you have committed a major crime i.e murder, all other misdemeanours are ignored.
There are many so called 'hard' men who've simply run away, others like my friend from Enniskillen are jilted lovers. I knew the young couple and found out much later the girl was so shocked at the hurt she caused she never married.
When a Legionnaire completes his full military service of 22 years with good conduct many are so institutionalized and have no family, they can then choose to leave, or go to one of the Legionnaire's retirement farms.
The Legion has several farms on which these retired Legionnaires live and work to keep them occupied and active, remember even when they retire these men are still extremely fit.
These farms are self supporting and all the produce is used to feed the Legionnaires battalions, wine from the vineyards, grain made into flour, vegetables, meat, eggs etc.

Now on a lighter note.
This little guy in the photo's below are Coypu or (in French, Ragonda).
They're vegetarian and love French bread, this guy can 'work' the boats better than any beggar. He goes alongside and does a couple of circles, if he sees someone is going to feed him he keeps circling slowly, if not he moves to the next boat.
In an earlier post I mentioned an island that was built in the port of Castlenaudary to provide a windbreak for barges passing through the bridge.
No commercial barges pass now and the island provides a wildlife haven for ducks, geese swans and these coypu who all seem to live happily together and raise their young.
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:39 AM   #22
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Just before we left Castlenaudary I explained how the Legionnaires aren't particularly keen of photographs being taken of recruits and you know the forums maxim. No photo, no proof.
Here the back of squad disappearing over a bridge on their early morning run after the sergeant gesticulated no **** photo's.
If you've ever been in the services you'll recognize the recruits trademark haircut !
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:49 AM   #23
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the next section takes us to the summit of the canal du Midi having risen 190 metres from sea level.
To feed the canal Pierre Paul Riquet designed and created the St Ferreol dam which is fed by rivers from the nearby Black mountains. So clever was his design back in the 1600's his dam is still feeding the canal as you read this.
The first stone was laid in 1667 and remember there were no JCB's or computers in the building of this remarkable feat of engineering.

Photo's.
1, The locks can be a bit intimidating for first time boaters.

2,A gentle flight of 3 locks.

3,Vineyards promise our future enjoyment.

4,Lovely lady lock keeper, very helpful.

5,This is an ancient Lavoire where the ladies would bring their clothes to be washed while they gossiped.

6,As you can see here plane trees line the canal, the movement of people/water along the lower sections of the canal du Midi helped to spread the disease.

7,Hire boat enjoying their holidays, there is very little traffic on the section and this is the first boat we've seen today.

8,As the canal follows the contours there are also large fields of barley, sunflowers as well as the vines.

9,Small 2 person hire boat,

10, Camper vans love the tranquillity of the canal and watch enviously as we cruise by.
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:06 AM   #24
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Up, up and up we came to visit the 'Parting of the Waters'.

Photo's.
1, Self explanatory 16th century graffiti. In fact when the canal was first named it was the Royal canal du Languedoc and many bridges and aqueducts had the royal coat of arms mounted prominently.
During the French revolution the communists destroyed them all.

2,This old converted Peniche 'Tourmente', travels the canal putting on comedy/musical/poetry/shows for local communities.

3,Another old working Peniche converted to live aboard, they rarely move.

4, The old and the new side by side. The little hire boat is built in steel by Linsen of Holland. More famous for expensive steel motor cruisers.

5,6, Self explanatory and the peak of the canal du Midi.

7,This is the feeder from the Ferreol dam.

8,Control light, Red is stop, Red and Green means the lock is being prepared and Green is go.

9, The unique oval shaped locks on the canal du Midi.

10, British wide beam barge.
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Old 07-12-2018, 08:34 AM   #25
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UNIQUE IN EUROPE !
This is the only place I know in the World where you can take your boat into a motorway service station area. The canal runs just beside it and it was excavated when they built the autoroute. A hire boat company has a base there along with some private boat moorings.
It's called Port Lauragais and it's on the A 16 Autoroute near Toulouse

Photo's.
1, Be patient they'll be in a bottle soon.

2, This is one of Port Lauragais service station restaurants.

3,Want a snooze, here a tent in the shade for you.

4, Even your dogs can stretch their legs and play.

5, 6, Trucks n Caravans.

7,Mums to are catered for.

8, You want a mattress to snooze on ?

9,Or a picnic ?

10, The company that runs/maintains this portion of motorway is called Da Vinci, this is a plan of all the rest areas.
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:09 AM   #26
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Soldiers and sailors have long been God fearing folk and the old saying that 'There are no atheists in a storm or a foxhole' still rings true.
Bargees are of the same ilk and here on the canal du Midi there was a chapel built for their use.
It happened to be built at a Relais where passengers on the fly boats would eat rest and sleep overnight before continuing their journey.
The horses would be changed also so they could also have a well earned rest.
A fly boat (Bateaux Mouche) was so named because it was towed by galloping horses and 'flew along'.
If you visit Paris and take a trip on the river Seine these excursion boats are still called Bateaux Mouche.

Photo's.
1,2,3. The beautiful Bargee's chapel at the ecluse (lock) Negra.

4,5, ? The European airbus factory is in nearby Toulouse, this guy has a thing about quirky garden 'furniture'.


6,7, Cars and old buses seem to please him too.
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:00 AM   #27
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As we approach Toulouse, one of France's principal cities we pass the rear of the European Airbus Industry factory, like most premises they are not so attractive from the nether regions.
Sadly also graffiti starts to appear on some bridges, thankfully its not prolific.
As with most waterways you get the untidy, downright filthy and a beautifully maintained gem as you approach main areas of human activity.
Toulouse is also the end of the canal du Midi and the start of the canal Lateral a la Garonne. As I explained earlier this was built to run parallel to the river Garonne which proved to have unreliable water levels.

Photo's.
1, Orientation map. The canal Lateral a la Garonne finishes at Castets. After that it becomes the Bordeaux estuary.

2, Toulouse marina, fairly pricey at 16 Euro's per night plus water, electricity ad showers.

3, Happy crowd on an old peniche now converted to a party boat.

4,Various styles of boat.

5,An ex steel hire boat 'Lost in France'.

6,Bateaux Mouche.

7,8, Imposing façade of the Matabieu railway station. There is a lock on the canal which passes in front of the station. All the locks in Toulouse are automatically camera controlled
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Old 07-14-2018, 11:34 AM   #28
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Its about time I made an honest confession to you.
Normally before we start any long cruise we take a short 'shakedown' cruise to highlight and iron out any niggles and problems.
Just like older engines we humans need more regular servicing as father time marches relentlessly on and due to health appointments we didn't take our normal 'shakedown' trip before leaving for our summer cruise.

Now we're paying for our complacency with a battery charging problem. This is because 'Snow Mouse' is an ex hire boat and any repairs were done by 'plug it and patch it' hire boat mechanics using common black wire to repair any faults without removing any faulty wire or parts. Obviously as a live-aboard we use more electrical appliances therefore our demand is higher and needs an efficient charging system.
With an engine driving 2 alternators fault tracing is an elusive art. The admiral stocked up with food and drink before we left with a freezer and refrigerator stuffed full of food so we have to keep some charge going into the batteries and regular stops at marina's to recharge the batteries back up to full capacity.
We've a solar panel helping but in temperatures of up to 38 degrees the fridge and freezer are working overtime.
The solution of course is to rip out all the old wiring and rewire it with colour coded wire with brand new regulators, blocking diodes and split charge relays.
However when cruising we don't have the usual home base facilities so we'll carefully soldier on to the end of the cruise and I'll have all the necessary parts and wire waiting back at home base ready for installation immediately on our arrival back in Narbonne.
The other annoying problem is that we have an air bubble in the hydraulic steering which is defying all efforts to remove it despite tracing all the piping and we can't figure out why or how it got there.
We'll cure it by filling the system with new hydraulic fluid from the piston on top of the rudder but I still need to know how it got there in the first place to eliminate the problem.
Once its all been rectified we'll take a week/10 day cruise to test all systems to Port La Nouvelle on the Med and let 'Snow Mouse' have a few days bathing in salt water as the salt water will clean the bottom of the hull of any fresh water slime/weed.

Why do I tell you all this ?
Simply so that you won't make the same mistake.
Despite these niggly problems we're fully enjoying our summer cruise and once past Carcassonne the canals are much much quieter and beautifully peaceful.
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Old 07-14-2018, 11:55 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Rambler View Post
Its about time I made an honest confession to you.
Normally before we start any long cruise we take a short 'shakedown' cruise to highlight and iron out any niggles and problems.
Just like older engines we humans need more regular servicing as father time marches relentlessly on and due to health appointments we didn't take our normal 'shakedown' trip before leaving for our summer cruise.

Now we're paying for our complacency with a battery charging problem. This is because as an ex hire boat before we bought 'Snow Mouse' any repairs were done by 'plug it and patch it' hire boat mechanics using common black wire to repair any faults without removing any faulty wire or parts. Obviously as a live aboard we use more electrical appliances and therefore our demand is higher and we need an efficient charging system.
With an engine driving 2 alternators fault tracing is an elusive art. The admiral stocked up with food and drink before we left with a freezer and refrigerator full of food so we have to keep some charge going into the batteries and regular stops at marina's to recharge the batteries back up to full.
We've a solar panel helping but in temperatures of up to 38 degrees the fridge and freezer are working overtime.
The solution of course would be to rip out all the old wiring and rewire it with colour coded wire with regulators, blocking diodes and split charge relays.
However when cruising we don't have home base facilities so we'll soldier on carefully to the end of the cruise and I'll have all the necessary parts and wire waiting back at home base ready for installation immediately we arrive back in Narbonne.
The other annoying problem is that we have an air bubble in the hydraulic steering which is defying all efforts to remove it despite tracing all the piping and we can't figure out why or how it got there.
We'll cure it by filling the system with new hydraulic fluid from the piston on top of the rudder but I still need to know how it got there to eliminate the problem.
Once its all been rectified we'll take a weeks cruise to test all systems down to Port La Nouvelle and let 'Snow Mouse' have a few days bathing in salt water as the salt water will clean the bottom of any fresh water slime/weed.

Why do I tell you all this ? Simply so that you won't make the same mistake.
Despite these niggly problems we're enjoying our summer cruise and once we past Carcassonne the canals are peaceful and thoroughly enjoyable.
After Toulouse we had the canal all to ourselves.
Enjoy July 14th fireworks

L
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Old 07-14-2018, 06:39 PM   #30
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Irish Rambler, we want to thank you SO much for this thread! We'd love to do this cruise some time; Ann's sister lives in northern Provence not far from the Rhone and we'd love to explore the more western section of the country. In the meantime we live vicariously through this thread.
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Old Yesterday, 03:57 AM   #31
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As we travel onwards from Toulouse the countryside changes, oh there are still the vineyards but not so prolific, here were into fruit growing country with peaches, apricots, apples, maize and fields of sunflowers.
There's also large sand deposits as we cross this plain, 18 kilometres with no locks.

Photo's,
1, Sand excavation, industrial scale.

2,Ancient road bridge still carries the outer ring road.

3,The white piece you see between the two bridge arches depicts the canal du Midi and canal Lateral a la Garonne junction.
The arch to the left is the canal du Midi and the arch to the right carried traffic into the canal du Brienne which joined the Garonne river, it's now only used by local trip boats as the river Garonne is not suitable for boats due to shallow patches.

4,Efficient canal cleaning apparatus.

5, Toilet humour.

6, New car distribution depot makes an ideal sun farm too.

7,Wide, deep and a pleasure to cruise, the canal Lateral a la Garonne.
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Old Yesterday, 04:13 AM   #32
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Thank you Lou, for some strange reason the small town we are at enjoy their fireworks on Monday night so we were able to see neighbouring villages last night and ours come tomorrow. We had a funfair and music to enjoy.

Thank you too calaltexflanc, glad you enjoy the thread. If you wish to buy a boat to see this in person I have a Birchwood 33' single engine cabin cruiser to see it first hand and will give you a good deal as a TF member..

Photo's.
1,Abandoned boat in the canal junction. I can never understand the mentality of abandoning a boat, better to give it to someone to care for rather than create an eyesore.

2, Some scruffy live aboards on the outskirts of Toulouse.

3, Roast pork anyone ?

4,Choosing the prizes, the young are a bit shocked when you whup them.
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