The week to follow was to be spent on a rented boat on a series of three canals, Canal de la Robine, Canal du Jonction, and the Canal du Midi with the latter being the most significant. In 2005, we’d rented our boat from Crown Blue Line. In the meantime, the company went through some corporate changes and are now called “Le Boat” (a name I find unfortunate.) We’d arranged to pick the boat up in Narbonne and drop it a week later at Trèbes.
The Narbonne train station is not all that far from Le Boat’s base but with the luggage we decided to take a cab.
Because of the short didtance, we probably spent more time waiting for the cab than actually riding in it.
Narbonne's answer to Florence's Ponte Vecchio
Like much of France, the Le Boat office closes for lunch but we were there in time to drop off our bags before heading out for our own lunch. We strolled southward along the canal and eventually ended up at le Brasserie le France for a nice meal on the sidewalk. Narbonne is a charming town founded by the ancient Romans and the walk along the canal was enjoyable in spite of the rather significant heat.
On the way back, we stopped at the “Marché Plus” to stock up on groceries. The last time we’d done this, we had to lug everything by hand.
Here I was able to borrow a shopping cart but only after leaving my passport as hostage. We loaded the groceries onto the boat and Linda took care of the paperwork while I rushed back with the shopping cart to ransom my passport.
On our last trip, we’d rented a boat with 4 cabins with each couple using one for sleeping and one to store our things. This time we selected the new Royal Mystique with two large cabins and air conditioning. We’d expected a lot of this boat and were not disappointed; it was absolutely fantastic! I'd be less than honest, though, if I didn't say that some of the boats looked to be WELL past their prime. If you intend to rent one, I'd suggest you ask a lot of questions about vintage!
Because we had previous experience, we needed only a short refresher.
Unlike our experience in Briare 5 years ago, this office of Le Boat had people who spoke English. However, I was told if we needed an “instructor” who spoke English there’d be a bit of a wait while if we could deal with instruction in French, someone was available immediately. We chose the latter so I translated while Jean-Paul explained things. There is not sufficient dock space at the base so two and three boats were tied side by side. Ours was the outermost of three and was pointing south while our departure would be to the north. Consequently, we cast off with Jean-Paul supervising while Earl did a 180 and repositioned the boat to a place along the quay where we tied it back up for the night. By this time, it was getting pretty warm so we fired up the AC. I took a walk up to the first lock to check it out in preparation for the morning’s passage while the other three hung out on the boat. All along the canal were boats of many sizes, designs and countries and many were beautiful.For dinner, we walked into town and ate at Ave Domitius in the Min square. Dinner was simple; Earl had moules while Lin and Helen pasta and I pizza 4 fromages. (Chèvre, Rochefort, mozzarella and emmental.) In the center of the square is an open area that exposes part of a Roman road about 4 feet below the current surface. There are steps down so you can actually walk on this ancient road. An interesting experience. Back on the boat, it was a bottle of wine on deck and in the rack at 10.