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Old 10-12-2016, 06:35 AM   #201
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Rambler View Post
The bridge in Avignon wasn't blown up in some dastardly deed.
Before the Rhone was tamed, the portion of the bridge on the outside bend was swept away in a particularly strong spring flood.
Hey, IR, that bridge, Is it the one of the song. I think it's about the only French song we were taught at school. Went something like....

"Sur le pont d’Avignon, nous sommes dansons, nous sommes dansons"...or words to that effect...

I sort of forget the rest...it was a long time ago... like 60 years...
Pilou would know the words, I'm sure.
Loving the pics by the way. France is indeed a beautiful country. Unfinished business for me, for sure.

Cheers,
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Old 10-12-2016, 07:12 AM   #202
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter B View Post
Hey, IR, that bridge, Is it the one of the song. I think it's about the only French song we were taught at school. Went something like....

"Sur le pont d’Avignon, nous sommes dansons, nous sommes dansons"...or words to that effect...

I sort of forget the rest...it was a long time ago... like 60 years...
Pilou would know the words, I'm sure.
Loving the pics by the way. France is indeed a beautiful country. Unfinished business for me, for sure.

Cheers,
Cher Pierre

Your wish is my command ! Shall we dance?


Sur le pont d'Avignon


Sur le pont d'Avignon,
On y danse, on y danse,
Sur le pont d'Avignon,
On y danse tous en rond.

Les beaux messieurs font comme ça,
Et puis encore comme ça.

Sur le pont d'Avignon,
On y danse, on y danse,
Sur le pont d'Avignon,
On y danse tous en rond.

Les belles dames font comme ça,
Et puis encore comme ça.

Sur le pont d'Avignon,
On y danse, on y danse,
Sur le pont d'Avignon,
On y danse tous en rond.

On the Bridge of Avignon

Chorus
On the bridge of Avignon
They are dancing, they are dancing,
On the bridge of Avignon
They are dancing all around.

1 The handsome gentlemen go this way,
And then again go that way.

Chorus

2 The pretty dames go this way,
And then again go that way.

Chorus.
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:56 PM   #203
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Leaving the beautiful Aigues Mortes we cruise on the Rhone a Sete canal which passes through the Camargue, famous for it's semi wild white horses, semi wild bulls bred for bullfighting, it's guardians the Camargue version of cowboys, its wine of course, the gypsy church/shrine at La St Marie de la mer, the fabulous Roman amphitheatre at Arles, the Roman aqueduct at Pont la Gard, flamingos and the accursed mosquitos.


In answer Nomad Willy's query, the canal is cut through the earth's surface, being formed from the century's of mountain run off, it's clay and as solid as a rock in the Mediterranean heat, areas that pass through etangs (inland salt lakes) walls are built of rough stone. Newly uprated sections are done with sheet piling.. The 85% sunken boat was abandoned by an English owner who apparently ran out of money. The law made it difficult to fine them, the VNF who operate the waterways has just been privatised, as a new company with a new portfolio with wider powers to enforce the law hopefully eyesores like this will be a thing of the past.

Photo's.

1, One of the prettiest ports is Marseillan, it's also the home of Noilly Prat a type
of Vermouth.

2, The start of the canal du Midi.

3, Neat vineyard.

4, Flamingo's feeding, Montpellier airport in the background.

5,6,7 Flamingo's feeding in the salt etang, these etangs (salt lakes) are fed from the sea and the heat of the sun evaporates the water and they become very salty. A lot of sea salt was harvested in this region in Roman times and still is to a lesser extent.

8, This hire boat was badly holed and sinking, as it was obstructing a commercial canal it was lifted out on the bank for repair.

9, Ancient wind driven water pump, despite the salty water of the lakes if you dig/drill down you can find subterranean sweet water.
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Old 10-14-2016, 03:22 PM   #204
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Some photo's in and around Marseillan.


Photo's
1, Self explanatory.


2, Frontage of Noilly prat.


3,Very pretty port.


4, This boat is used for jousting, the jousters are dressed all in white and originally the boat was propelled by oars, nowadays they use an outboard. The ladder at the rear is called a tintaine, the jouster stands on the rear platform of the tintaine armed with a lance and wooden shield, his task is to push of his opposing number in the opposing team. The jousters are accompanied during the joust by a drum and flute of the type used in North Africa.


5, Ancient still in Noilly Prat.


6, The finished product.


7, Here's the bulk storage.


8, Grapes being delivered by the farmer.


9, My favourite harbour.


10, Self explanatory sign.
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Old 10-14-2016, 03:33 PM   #205
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Some photo's in and around Marseillan.

1, Oyster farm on the approaches to Marseillan.
Baby oysters are stuck to a cord with 'super glue' and suspended in the etang as you see in the photo, as they grow attach themselves naturally.
They are much sought after especially at Xmas, a water borne patrol dissuades night time thieves.
The Romans built oyster farms in town bays to filter & clean the water and provide food for the working people.
A local white wine called Picpoul Pinet served chilled is the perfect accompaniment to a dozen delicious oysters.

2, Snow Mouse with fine medieval building backdrop.

Unfortunately there was a glitch on the site, I thought the photo's had been wiped and re posted some of them.
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Old 10-14-2016, 06:48 PM   #206
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Thanks to you, kind sir, we have just booked 11 days on the Canal du Midi and a short week in Montpellier to recover! In 1970 I spent some time west of Perpignan, the last area before I turned back on my Triumph motorcycle. I began in Vancouver and ran out of time in that Lovely corner of France before I was guilted back to a "normal" life by the beginning of Fall and the rains. I went back to school. Oh drat.

Thank you for your fascinating travelogue - are you continuing to the Canal du Midi? Can I just encourage you to do so and continue with your story?

Thank you!
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:15 PM   #207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xsbank View Post
Thanks to you, kind sir, we have just booked 11 days on the Canal du Midi and a short week in Montpellier to recover! In 1970 I spent some time west of Perpignan, the last area before I turned back on my Triumph motorcycle. I began in Vancouver and ran out of time in that Lovely corner of France before I was guilted back to a "normal" life by the beginning of Fall and the rains. I went back to school. Oh drat.

Thank you for your fascinating travelogue - are you continuing to the Canal du Midi? Can I just encourage you to do so and continue with your story?

Thank you!
Where in west of Perpignan ? I was born and grew up 40 km west of Perpignan.

P.
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Old 10-14-2016, 11:02 PM   #208
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Re your pic #8 on post 203 I'm amazed at the big flat bottomed boat styled like a go fast powerboat but not so at all. Hull kinda like a barge especially designed for the canals. Never knew such a boat existed.

The Flamencos seem much like our white swans here in NW Washington state USA. Sometimes they take off in masses (like thousands) and make a great din of noise with all the "honking".
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Old 10-15-2016, 01:28 AM   #209
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Xsbank. We'll only touch just a very short section of the Canal du Midi and I can happily post pics and details at the end of this thread if anyone has any interest. I don't wish to outstay my welcome and hog the threads on TF.
Alternatively if you go on Amazon Kindle you can buy a book called 'How To Cruise Between Two Seas' by an Irish guy called Geoff Woolley aka Irish Rambler, it was written just before this adventure but the facts are still relevant. If you need any help or advice don't hesitate to contact me.

In an earlier post I showed you photo's of flamingo's, the thread would simply have been too long, here are some facts.
There are only 6 types of Flamingo, 4 of them live in America.
They nest in mud and only mate in the rainy season.
They are a flock bird and one Zoo owner in the North of France had a pair that wouldn't mate until he discovered that if he fitted mirrors it would give them the illusion of a flock, then , having a feeling of flock security the flamingo's successfully mated and the chicks were hatched.
Flamingo's form a rotating 'crèche' for the young birds so that the adult parents can take turns to feed. They can sleep on one leg and change to the other leg whilst still asleep.
They feed with a side to side sweeping motion with the beak parallel to the lake bed filtering tiny crustaceans and plankton, the plankton give the distinctive pink colour not the tiny crustaceans. They can fly over 500 kilometres in one night at up to 60 kph.
They fly in a V formation at differing heights in 'clean air' free of the preceding birds wing turbulence for ease of flight.

Nomad Willy.
I didn't want to jump the thread regarding prevention of bank erosion but as we approach the beginning of the canal du Midi I can explain the method that Pierre
Paul Riquet, the designer of the canal du Midi used. He planted Plane trees that you will see in many photographs of the canal to reduce evaporation due to the Mediterranean heat and the roots form an interlocking network to secure the canal bank. The plane trees also gave shade to the horses pulling barges, there are no working freight barges anymore, a few hotel barges cater for their wealthy clients. There are 40 million plane trees that line the canal, sadly these trees have developed a disease that is 'alleged' to have come from the discarded American ammunition boxes. The VNF waterways authority are cutting down the infected trees and after sterilization planting a new disease resistant variety.

At the Southern end of the inland salt water lake called the Etang du Thau lies the beautiful Mediterranean port of Sete.
The outer breakwater was built in 1666 giving shelter to the sardine and anchovy fishermen's fleets.
As it was connected to the canal du Midi via the Etang du Thau trade was brisk when the canal was completed in the late 1800's, it exports were wine of course, sulphur, timber, grain and iron. before the days of containerisation it was known as the agrumier port for oranges, lemons etc.
It's also the 'home' port of the Joute, 'Jousting' fraternity and the colourful finals are held here each year and you shouldn't miss this spectacular event if you are visiting the region.
Yes, Xsbank you can visit, but are restricted to, the inner harbour by hire boat.
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Old 10-15-2016, 01:58 AM   #210
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Nomad Willy.
The hire boat in question is part of the Nicholls company hire fleet, built in France for the French inland waterways.
The hull has a small directional keel and they are usually fitted with small engines.
95% of hirers have never piloted a boat before and try to drive them like a car (with the resulting crunch of fibreglass).
The majority of hirers fly at 500 mph to get here or hop on a high speed train or AutoRoute and then jump on a hire boat that does 7/8 kilometres per hour but their brain is still in 'high speed' mode, by the end of the 2nd weeks holiday they have chilled out and slowed right down and enjoy the cruising life.
Hire boat company's are to blame because they 'advise' an itinerary that encourages them to cover the maximum distance because the hirer is then hit with a bill for engine hours on top of his hire fee.
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Old 10-15-2016, 02:15 AM   #211
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Xsbank.
A bit off thread with this one, as a young soldier I used to ride a Triumph 650 twin and had it converted to a Triton, Triumph motor in a Norton featherbed frame and raced it with a bit of success at Snetterton in the days before works teams spoiled it all.

Perpignan, known here as 'The Windy City' was the last stop for escaped POW's and Jewish people who made it this far, they walked over the Pyrenees into Spain before being repatriated.
Spain's 40 mins by car from our home port, we visit regularly when not cruising.
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Old 10-15-2016, 08:51 AM   #212
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Quote:
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IR
Re your pic #8 on post 203 I'm amazed at the big flat bottomed boat styled like a go fast powerboat but not so at all. Hull kinda like a barge especially designed for the canals. Never knew such a boat existed.
Eric

Just to show you the type of motorboat, this gives you a look of the boat I will sail the Scottish Lochs / Loch Ness / Caledonian Canal waterway, starting in 1 week from now.

1- Hull was delivered.

2- Hull being craned off transport lorry.

3- Hull being put into position on transport trailer.

4- Hull being taken to workshop

5- Under construction at workshop.
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Old 10-15-2016, 10:24 AM   #213
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The hulls look good in these pics. Much like most trawlers. Look good to me!

Haha a lot of trawlers don't have quite that much keel.
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Old 10-15-2016, 11:49 AM   #214
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Bonjour Pilou,

I was staying in Prades, visiting the family of a retired French General although my "house" was a very small tent pitched in a peach orchard ("beware of adders..."). I explored the region on my motorcycle and scandalized the locals with the granddaughter of the general who insisted on tight long pink skirts and rode behind me sidesaddle. There was a walled city on a hill with a church at the very top, the basement of the church was a bar and discotheque and the motorcycle was the best way to climb to it in the evenings. Boules, dancing and wine...
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Old 10-15-2016, 11:59 AM   #215
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Irish, I don't think that any denizen of this site will object to any volume you choose to write about your travels. If they are like me we are enjoying your travels vicariously - I look forward to doing a small bit myself in April.

We Air France to Paris, three days there then a few days in Carcassonne then taxi with groceries to the boat, 11 days to Sete, then 5 days Montpellier, TGV to London (cousins).

We have 2 boat owners on board so we are not worried about operating the rental. We chose Locaboat...penichette. Was that wise?

I'm off to Amazon to look for your book!
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Old 10-15-2016, 03:42 PM   #216
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Bonjour Pilou,

I was staying in Prades, visiting the family of a retired French General although my "house" was a very small tent pitched in a peach orchard ("beware of adders..."). I explored the region on my motorcycle and scandalized the locals with the granddaughter of the general who insisted on tight long pink skirts and rode behind me sidesaddle. There was a walled city on a hill with a church at the very top, the basement of the church was a bar and discotheque and the motorcycle was the best way to climb to it in the evenings. Boules, dancing and wine...
Bonjour Xsbank et merci pour le message.
I was born and grew up in Prades !! My parents and my whole family for many generations were farmers, growing peaches, nectarines, apple orchards. My brothers are still farmers in Prades and close to Perpignan where they added kiwis and apricots. After I graduated from high school in Prades, I moved to Montpellier where I joined the University of Pharmacy for 6 years of study.

According to my aunt (I was 5 years old at this time) with whom I have spoken at the phone now, there were 2 retired Generals in Prades in the 70'. General Roque and General Jacomy.
A grand daughter of General Jacomy married one of my cousins.
Perhaps the walled city was EUS, and the discotheque was L'Esclop. Another walled city is Villefranche du Conflent.

Sorry IR to chime in your thread, but it's a small world.
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Old 10-15-2016, 10:11 PM   #217
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It is a very nice thread! I was happy to read of Chateauneuf du Pape wine, it was one of my favorites back in the 70s. I haven't thought of it or tasted it in many years I will be looking for a bottle to try it again soon.
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Old 10-15-2016, 11:40 PM   #218
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Xsbank.
The 2 main hire boat company's that operate around here are Le Boat who have maintenance 'issues', I'm sorry but I can't recommend them and Locaboat who hire Penichette's, pennishet, meaning little Peniche. Peniche Penneesh is the name for a barge. As you will know from the posts we've had patchy internet on our travels all summer and am even now 'catching up' with both Amazon and Kobo to ensure all the titles, and the forthcoming 'Windmills and Wine' are available initially as eBooks. I'd like to publish in paperback but costs are too great without sponsorship.

Back to the blog.
When the canal du Midi was built it in the 1800's it was a massive undertaking and like all engineering projects there were snags to be overcome. Don't forget there were NO computers, bulldozers or giant excavators when it was built and I admire immensely Pierre Paul Riquets achievements.
When originally built the canal had to cross several rivers, one of these was the river Herault, seasonal water levels caused problems and barges were often blocked by low water.
How to overcome this problem ?
The answer was to make a step up, by putting a dam/barrage across the river to maintain a constant water level, to allow barges to cross the river, then step down again and continue on their journey.
As we leave the pretty port of Marseillan and enter the 1st lock on the canal du Midi, this our step up, we then cruise approx a kilometre and across the river to the next lock.
This lock at the old Grecian town of Agde is unique in being a round 3 way lock and is called the ecluse rond. (The locks are ecluse and the lock keepers eclusiers).
Here the lock serves as a 'step down' for those who wish to continue along the canal du Midi.
There is also a third set of lock gates which allows boats to be lowered even further onto a short canal spur and join the river Herault below the dam/barrage if they wish to continue on out to sea (hire boats are not allowed through these lock gates).
For our journey we pass through the ecluse rond and go to the lowest level and exit to join the lower (below the dam/barrage) river Herault again before proceeding downriver in a seawards direction.

Photo.
1, The ecluse rond, the lock gate on the left is the 'step down', the old Grecian town of Agde in the distance.

2,The ecluse rond was enlarged from the original circular lock when the Barges were standardised.

3, Look closely, you can see the 'step down' (to enter the canal du Midi) lock gates directly in front of you.
The 'step up' to go across the river Herault lock gates straight on.
Just in photo to the right are the lock gates which to allow you to go to an even lower level and join the river Herault below the dam/barrage and then out to the Mediterranean.

4, Look closely, the left bank of the canal was tree lined with plane trees which have now been cut down due to the disease, you can see 2 bare diseased trees still standing, they will also been cut down and burnt.

5,The canal du Midi lined with plane trees, Nomad Willy asked how do you anchor the banks from passing boat wash, the answer ? tree roots ! they also prevent evaporation and give shade for originally the bargees and their horses, now for pink tourists.

6,This is a very special little ship and is owned by a Belgian gentleman called Josef van Langendonk and very proud to own it he is too.
When the British forces were staring death in the eyes on the beaches of Dunkirk, Churchill mobilised virtually everything that could float to rescue the British army from the beaches. This is just one of the armada of heroic 'Dunkirk Little Ships', manned by civilian volunteers who plucked an army, while under constant enemy fire and bombardment off Dunkirk's beaches to fight again. Look at the early posts for more detail. Working 24 hrs a day this boat rescued over 250 soldiers in batches of 10/12 during 'Operation Dynamo'.

7,8, Self explanatory.
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Old 10-16-2016, 01:00 AM   #219
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Irish,

Thank you for taking the time to post your trip for all of us to follow. We just finished up our trip, as we traveling during the same time frame, and we know how much work and time it takes to put something like this together. Awesome trip and please keep posting your future travels.

Cheers!
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Old 10-16-2016, 04:03 AM   #220
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Crusty chief,
Thank you for your very kind comments they are much appreciated.
It sure does takes up your time alright, research as you know is a big part, route planning over winter nights so we could visit things like the Menin gate, Inclined planes, Lifts etc. which are the boys side of things, also lighter things for the girls interest and enjoyment, Groningen, Antwerp, Delph factory, Museums, Kuekenhof, Amsterdam, Volendam, Moselle valley etc. to try to please everyone as much as possible and of course the photo's. I think we've taken over 3,500 so far, (sometimes one photo could take 2 days research (the Dunkirk little ship) in order to get everything right for both TF and the book that will follow to try and offset some of the costs involved.
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