I am writing this at home a couple of days after my return.
I was able to get a good photo of the boat next morning because my canal path crossed to the other side from Colombiers onwards.
Two and a half hours took me to the point of departure from Canal du Midi at Ecluses de Foncerannes. Here there was a Tourist Information Office and they booked me into the Hotel de France in the centre of Béziers which involved a forty minute walk, again in oppressive heat, and after more than 150 miles of flat, unwelcome ascent.
I had been given a street map, but it only gave main names and I was having difficulty in a maze of steep little streets. I was hot and bothered, soaked in sweat, and trying to read the map when I fell with no conception of it happening - at one point I was walking and in a nano-second my face had hit the concrete - I had tripped over a four inch high concrete strip - these were embedded at intervals to one side of the pavement, for what reason I know not.
My nose was bleeding, and a lady and a man appeared and helped and took me to a nearby water pump where I cleaned up. The lady departed and I was left with Mr. T (T for taxi - more in a bit). At first I was very grateful and thanked Mr. T profusely. When he learnt where I was heading he offered to take me. It took about twenty minutes to the hotel, and as we walked we chatted in French and he established I was flying back the next day and revealed that he was a taxi driver and wanted to get the job of taking me to the airport. I had already established bus transit details and wanted to stick to my plan, but he became ever more insistent, and I think he was mentioning a potential fare of 60 Euros. I found the change from my gratefulness for this guy's help to my dogged declining of his pestering very uncomfortable, but I was determined and stuck it out until we got to the hotel where we parted on a less friendly basis than our earlier meeting.
I had a siesta in my room then a wander round the town and a trip to the bus station to locate the exact departure point for the airport bus. I had an enjoyable evening meal to celebrate including a good cigar which the waiter had obligingly disappeared into the town's darkness to procure, returning with the trophy and refusing payment. I do not smoke, but I occasionally indulge in the pleasure of a good cigar, the last time being over three years ago.
Next day the bus didn't depart until 14:50. There is only one bus that day which relates to the particular flight you are taking, so if you miss it you are in serious trouble - Ryanair only fly back from B to Manchester on two days of the week.
So, I partook of sacred French déjeuner, but before that I was having a leisurely morning coffee at a tree lined square, pavement café watching the world go by and musing on recent events when my thoughts were interrupted by someone addressing me - it was Mr T !
I don't know if it was coincidence on his part or whether he had found some means of tracking me, but he started all over again with his sales pitch for the taxi job. He tried to unsettle me by saying there were three airports, Bézier (which he gave another name to), Toulouse, over 150 miles away, and Montpelier, perhaps 60 miles away, and he was suggesting that if I din't go along with him I may end up at the wrong one. Again I managed to fend him off.
French bus stations are organised much better than ours with electronic signage and clearly marked destination boards, and my bus arrived promptly and the twenty minute ride cost less than 5 Euros.
|Inside my boat chambre d'hôtes|
|The boat next morning from the new side of the canal|
|This guy was propelling his infant by radio control|
|A Pierre-Paul Riquet - mastermind of the Canal du Midi|
|A bientôt !|