Monday, 17 August 2015

Canal du Midi - Day 7

Canal du Midi - Day 7

From the campsite I took the ten minute walk into Trèbes centre around 8:00 am. I bought croissants and apple tart then went to a bar to buy coffee and eat. Eating food in a bar you have bought somewhere else is normal practice - imagine trying to do that in England.

Another thought from the Carcassonne day. I have seen no bird life on the canal except for very occasional ducks (predictive text wanted me to say "dicks") on the water, BUT I saw quite a few walking through C. I reckon even the French have to draw the line at shooting wildlife in the confines of a city.

I am walking stronger now. A lot of the day was overcast and cooler, but it became hot late afternoon. Getting nearer the Med I have been getting the odd waft of herbs. I had been told at the bar in Trèbes that there were hotels and chambre d'Hôtes in Redorte - a long march through this ghost town on bank holiday Sunday established there was only a gîte d'étape. A talk box with a button said your call woul be welcome after 5:00pm. The whole place was surrounded with high fencing. It was only 3:50. I did try the button to no avail. I sat on a seat on the other side of the road to keep watch. A garrulous old man (82) arrived and he told me there was another chambre d'hôtes up the road. I went to look. Locals told me I had been misinformed. I returned in the heat to the seat. At about 4:40 a guy appeared from the locked gates of the Gîte to empty rubbish near my seat. He told me abruptly the place was full and offered no further help. Why couldn't they stick up a notice saying "full" avoiding people waiting hours to find out?

I made the long walk back down to the canal where there is a lively restaurant where I told my sob story to the lady proprietor. She was terrific making various phone calls in between flying backwards and forwards tending to her customers. I have never seen anybody so energetic. In the end the only option was a gîte 8kms. away in what direction I never found out, but she was going to get her baker guy to drive me there, when he arrived, but he didn't arrive - it was now 6:00pm. I mentioned I had a tent and she was delighted, and said that people often camp on a spot on the opposite bank behind some trees, and use the public toilet adjacent to the bridge. So I was off to pitch. Back at the restaurant for 7:00 I had one of the experiences I come to France for. They have the capacity for you to have meal lasting over two hours without ever feeling that you are waiting or not being attended to. Brilliant.

The night in the tent was warm, humid, sticky and uncomfortable, and in the morning I had to re-master the art of using one of those mediaeval French stand up toilets.

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