On leaving the port of Moissac one of the first obstacles was the narrow gap at the swing bridge. This is controlled by traffic lights and activates when you give a toot on the horn to the operative. As we passed through the outskirts of the town we couldn’t resist taking a photo of one of the back streets! The River Tarn runs almost parallel to the canal for some distance here, as does the train line to Bordeaux.
Good test for the anti shake on the camera !
By mid afternoon we had reached Valence d’Agen and were delighted to meet up with Han and Gerrie. We had a great weekend, eating, drinking and reminiscing about our previous winter together in St Leger-des-Vignes. They had cruised right down to Castets-en-Dorth which lies at the end of the Canal de Garonne and had also stopped at Meilhan-sur-Garonne for a few days. Our planned cycle to Auvillar- apparently one of the most beautiful villages in France had to be aborted owing to heavy rain. So we stayed on board and chilled out together munching walnuts and drinking wine.
Han and Gerrie depart with the rain still falling.
Sadly, on the Monday morning, we said goodbye and went our separate ways. Han and Gerrie had a mooring booked at Montauban at the end of the Canal de Montech and we hoped to be able to visit them over the coming winter.
After an uneventful day’s cruise we arrived at Boe. As the port was only suitable for smaller boats, we were pleased to find some old bollards opposite to tie to and I went off in search of the shops. The next day we made it to Agen, but the only suitable spot in the port was being used by ‘Jazz’ a new build barge which we had seen earlier at Valence d’Agen.
Before we knew it we were at a red light on the approach to the aqueduct, prior to a flight of four locks. All four were longer than average, with bollards in awkward places for us. There were also strong cross currents on the approaches and exits. I was relieved when we passed through the last one and entered a woody, secluded section of the canal.
By 2pm we were moored at Serignac-sur-Garonne, where water and electrics are free for up to three days- although it was a bit shallow for us. The town is very quaint and the church has a strange corkscrew spire. The two restaurants were closed but the small supermarket provided all essentials. Making the most of the free water and electrics here we got all our washing done, the weather not being too good we also used the tumble dryer for the first time.
We spent a day collecting the Micra from Montech. This involved cycling the 12km back to Agen and boarding a train to Montauban. Having bought our tickets and with the train due within minutes we were told by an official on the platform that cycles had to be pre booked for train journeys and we would have to take a bus! Luckily common sense prevailed and we were allowed onto the practically empty train. In Montauban, after a brief ride across the River Tarn and around the canal port, we cycled another 12km down the towpath back to Montech, stopping for a rest and a glass of cider on way.
Agen station, ‘you can’t take them, you haven’t booked’
A quick look round Montauban and the port.
No, not drunk, just stretching her back – Honest !
In Montech we loaded the bikes into the Micra and drove off to have a look at Auvillar on our way back to the barge. It was indeed a real picture book town as promised. Arriving at the barge, we found that Ian and Jill had arrived on ‘Jazz’ and had cleverly chosen the only spot where a TV signal can be received. Experience counts!
Auvillar, very pretty town.
Despite my concerns about reaching Meilhan-sur-Garonne before the locks closed in November, we actually made it with a week to spare. We dropped the Micra at the port and met Mike the Capitaine, before cycling back three locks to the barge. Chris, Erf and Toby joined us for the final cruise to Meilhan where we moored next to the restaurant by the canal for lunch.
Arrival at Meilhan and lunch at the restaraunt.
Meilhan certainly looked like it would be perfect for the winter. Being a week early, we decided to cruise down to Castets-en-Dorth for the weekend and return to Meilhan on Monday.
Back at the port we settled into our winter mooring spot and were invited to meet all the other barge and boat owners in an impromptu aperros in the capitainerie. Once again we were the newbies, but not for long as everyone made us feel very welcome.
In our first year on Aurigny we had travelled approximatley 1430 kilometres and negotiated 466 locks.