28. Back to La Caunette and up the Baïse (Part I)

This post covers the time between leaving Castets-en-Dorthe and finally getting to Nérac, on the Baïse river.

Wednesday 21st August. Dave got up early and cycled to get baguettes and pastries for breakfast, which we all enjoyed with the great coffee Mike makes.  We certainly have been very spoilt on this trip and continue to get on well and have a good time, but I must admit I am feeling ready to return to La Caunette

We packed our things while Mike did his engine checks.  It’s a good thing he did as he found a build-up of water in the container that catches liquids from under the motor sump, before it overflows into the bilge.  He wasn’t sure how long it had been there (i.e. if he had a serious problem or not) but Dave helped him empty it and it looked okay (it was canal/river water).

I checked my emails while the boys were busy with the water.  I also had some communication from a New Zealand insurance broker who had given us a quote which was about four times more than the one we got from a Spanish insurance company (Northern Reef) last week.  When I queried why his quote was so much higher than Northern Reef’s quote he replied “I can’t say too much in an email. I can tell you though that the Island Cruising Association in NZ ditched them and came to us after their experience with members claims” and “The main agent for them in NZ & South Pacific got thrown out of our professional association for dodgy dealings on claims, and I can assure you that does not happen lightly!”.  I therefore sent an email to the Northern Reef asking for their reaction to these claims – they came back with a very reasonable explanation that suggested this related to two claims (made over 10 years ago) that they deemed to be fraudulent – in short they suggested it was a couple of disgruntled people bad mouthing them.  It still left us unsure about what to do though.

Everything was sorted with the engine by late morning and we set off.  We had three locks and 10 kilometres to cover, to take us back to Meilhan-sur-Garonne (from where we planned to cycle back to Buzet-sur-Baïse).  The canal was calm and it was quite cool.  A change of season is starting to become apparent – it is much cooler in the morning, there is often a bit of a mist and autumn leaves are starting to fall.

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Dave leapt off, with aplomb, at the landing platforms for the locks and walked up to the locks; Gloria twisted the pole; Mike drove GEM in with ease – I sat and watched.

Dave caught the ropes Gloria and Mike threw up to him and pushed the button to start the locking process.

Dave confused Gloria a couple of times by giving her instructions (which he believed were for her safety) that were different to the method she and Mike used for holding the ropes, but overall everything went smoothly with the locking process.

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At one of the locks there was an interesting bike and a number of ‘bear’ themed items at the restaurant next to it.

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The sunflowers seem to have finished flowering – I have loved seeing the fields glowing yellow when they were in full flower.

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We went past what Dave reckons is a uniquely designed boat – he thinks the design is quite ‘special and bold’ – others weren’t quite so impressed.

Gloria put together some lunch, which we had as we cruised along the tree lined canal.  We got lots of waves from passing cyclists, especially the children.

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And soon we were in Meilhan.  Mike had booked a mooring and checked with Ug (the Capitain) yesterday that it was still available, but as we came into the port we could see it was full.  Fortunately, there was a space available by the bridge which was deep enough for Mike to moor GEM at.  A gentleman from another boat came and took the ropes from Gloria which was lucky, as it was a bit too far for Dave to jump.

Once GEM was securely moored, we went to talk to La Caunette’s previous owners, who we could see moored in the port.  On the way we had a quick chat with Simon and Heather (Madeline) and Jupp and Kallie (Ville Luis), who were all moored at Meilhan.  Lyndsay and Mike seemed very pleased to see us and immediately invited us on board their boat (Solange).  The first ‘thing’ I saw was Marguerite – their rescue cat who was enjoying a nap in a sunny spot on ‘her’ chair.  She tolerated being tickled under her chin by me.

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Lyndsay and Mike have done a complete makeover of Solange – an ex-hire boat. While they have done a great job, we actually like the work they did on La Caunette better – I think they used more expensive materials.  We then all went over to the buvette for a drink.

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Mike (from Solange, not GEM– there seem to be a lot of Mikes here) had a folder with lots of photos and information on La Caunette.  It would have been great if he had handed them over but he wanted to keep them, so I busied myself with scanning them all onto my phone. I have lots of information now and plan to one day write a blog just on La Caunette and her history.  Here is an extract from the brochure when she was a hire boat.

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As the day was moving on, and we still needed to cycle 40 kilometres back to Buzet, we said our good byes in the hope we will meet up again somewhere further up the canal, before we leave for home at the end of September.

Dave and Mike got our bikes off GEM – we loaded them up with our things and set off.  We stopped about half way to buy a baguette and an ice cream.

It was an easy cycle ride back along the canal path – we’ve been over it several times now and we arrived back in Buzet two hours later.

We were pleased to see La Caunette sitting snuggly in her mooring, patiently waiting for us to return.  Everything looked okay with her, except she had collected a lot of leaves (which Dave swept off while I unpacked and put together a light meal).

After tea, we watched another couple of episodes of Rick Stein’s French Odyssey.

Thursday 22nd August.  We slept in this morning.  With the sun not rising until after 7am and much cooler night temperatures, as I mentioned yesterday, it certainly feels like Autumn isn’t far away.  It was nice waking up in our bed on La Caunette – she makes a very cosy home.

We had about a week’s worth of washing to do so I decided to use the washing machine at the port.  I wanted to get in first so I went over to the ablutions block about 8.30 am, before anyone else.  Unfortunately it was still locked and three trips later it finally opened up at about 9.30am.

Meanwhile we needed to have a detailed look at the insurance proposals, so Dave went through the fine print of the quotes we had received – it certainly is worth doing as it is surprising to find what is and is not covered (e.g. with the cheaper one our engine “has no insured value” as it is over five years old).

Dave was keen to get some more wine before we left Buzet, so we cycled to the nearby wine cooperative – he bought a mixed six of red wines in a nice wooden box. I got a five litre ‘château cardboard’ of rosé.

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On the way back to the boat we stopped at the grocery shop and bought a baguette that had just come out of the oven – we enjoyed it for lunch filled with ham, cheese and salad.

We spent the afternoon ‘pottering’ around on the boat.  I checked my emails and found one from Gloria with a photo attached of Mike looking somewhat sheepish about the bag of empties he had to get rid of after our (Dave’s) stay – the boys certainly got through a few beers and wine.

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Later in the afternoon the chantier from Castelmoron-sur-Lot delivered the second battery and the spare parts Dave had ordered.  Dave put the battery in – he was pleased to have that in place, plus have spare air, oil and fuel filters and (the previously) elusive drive belts.

Steve came over for drinks and we once again enjoyed his company and chatting to him about his 17 years sailing around the world with his beloved late wife Josie.  He went back to his boat and we had our dinner, after which we watched the last episodes of Rick Stein’s French Odyssey.

Friday 23rd August.  Once Dave was up, he set about taking down the gazebo, putting the bikes back on board and storing away the outside table and chairs, ready for our departure.  While he was doing that, I cycled up to the village to get a baguette and on the way back stopped at the office to pay for our mooring.  No-one was about so I left it with Jehan (on Les Vieux Papillons – they are moored permanently in the port) to pass on to Kevin. Back at the boat, Dave was still busy cleaning the back of the boat so I cleared away all the leaves that had fallen overnight on the front of the boat (much to his surprise).

Dave had quite a bit of difficulty getting the pins out – he had been worried about them coming out when we moored up (if a large barge goes past like Rosa a huge surge is created in the canal) – it seems he needn’t have worried as it really was hard work for him.

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He was also a bit concerned that once the ropes were undone, the boat would start to move out into the canal (because of the current) before he could get back on.  Once again he needn’t have worried about that as La Caunette sat very still in the water, even after she had been untied – maybe she liked it there or she just knew not to give the Captain any grief.  Anyway, just as Dave put the boat into gear and started moving out into the canal, there was a very loud screeching noise – it turned out to be two VERY low flying fighter jets (we have often heard and seen these jets, almost on a daily basis, and I’m not sure where they fly from or to, regardless, it gave me quite a fright as they were lower than normal i.e. 100 metre above us).

Dave turned La Caunette around with ease – despite his fears he might hit the rudder of the boat moored in front of us.  It still surprises me how worried he gets about that sort of thing – I think he underestimates his skill as he seems to drive the boat exceptionally well.

Steve came out and waved us goodbye.

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We cruised through the port towards the double locks that would take us into the Baïse.  As we approached the lock I saw a little self-driven lawn mower, busy cutting a very large area of grass.

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The éclusier saw us and opened the lock gates.  He took our ropes and then passed Dave the card we need to start the locking process on all the locks along the Baïse.  We didn’t have any problems with the locks – as I’ve said before, it’s so much easier going down, and it’s also great having a lock keeper to help.

And then at last we were on the Baïse, ready to spend two or three weeks on her (the Baïse River– being  quite small is a une rivière in French – i.e. feminine whereas the mighty Garonne is un fleuve – male.  Dave will tell me I’m talking a lot of bull but it interests me how embedded sexism is in our language – ditto re black being associated with evil (black mail, black magic) left handedness with clumsiness (gauche, cack handed, etc).  But enough of that – we enjoyed meandering up the river.

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At one stage we were joined by a couple out on their paddle boards.  They looked very confident – no life jackets and dressed in shorts etc.  At one stage the chap surfed along the wake of our boat.

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We saw pretty water lilies growing on the river’s edge and saw several herons and kingfishers.  I was amused to see a water plant had made its home in a buoy.

We passed by the attractive 17th century Château Trenqueléon and its pigeonnerie.

After an hour-and-a-half or so, we approached our first (and only lock to Vianne).

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I was a bit nervous about getting off on the relatively narrow ledge (the photo below id one took from his bike a month or so ago), but Dave slowed the boat right down, and I was able to step off quite easily. We have been through this lock before with Terry and Pat on board so at least I had an idea of what to expect.

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I then had to go up to the lock and insert the key so the lock would empty and the gates opened.

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That all worked well and soon Dave had brought La Caunette into the lock.

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Dave threw up the ropes which I put around the bollards he wanted them on, and then held the front rope.  The water comes in with quite a rush but it was much easier holding the boat steady from the top of the lock, than from in the boat (as I had to do when we had Pat and Terry on board).

Soon we were out of the lock and could see where we needed to cross over the canal to moor up at Vianne. That all went well too.

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It was 29°C and as we were both feeling quite hot, we had a beer and then lunch, before ‘blobbing out’ for the afternoon (reading, surfing the net, catching up on social media, sleeping, etc).

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Early in the evening we headed up to the village (I wrote quite a bit about Vianne in an earlier post so I won’t go into any detail now).  There was a night market on, due to start at 6pm.  It was quite small, with only four food stalls, two of which were more like what we would call pie-carts.  We were among the first to arrive but gradually the area filled up – mainly with locals.  Dave had a burger and chips and I had some calamar grilled with lots of garlic and parsley.  It was very tasty but also very rich.

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For dessert we shared a gauffre et Chantilly (waffle and whipped cream).

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As the evening progressed it became livelier and there was a very festive atmosphere.  There was great music (drums, guitar and the third person switched between guitar and accordion).  Children were having a wonderful time dancing and making full use of the large area available.

Saturday 24th August.  Dave was up early and cooked me breakfast in bed. Then he filled the water tank (He is keen to keep the front of the boat low in the water – by keeping the water tank full – in case we run into shallow water so we hit it nose down rather than ride it and damage the propeller at the back).  Somehow, the hose seemed to take on a life of its own, when Dave turned it on but it was only him who got wet as he danced around to avoid it.

It was mid-morning before we set off on the next leg of our journey up the Baïse – to Nérac, 10 kilometres and five locks away.  The river was still and there were lovely reflections.

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A family out in their canoe, with their dog, passed us going downstream.  They looked like they were enjoying themselves.

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There are lots overhanging trees, the river is windy and in some parts it is quite narrow but we didn’t encounter any problems with it being too shallow.  The water is quite opaque and although it is okay for swimming in, it doesn’t look very inviting.  Nevertheless, as we cruised along I commented to Dave how much I enjoy being on a river – I found it hard to explain why when he asked me – it just feels different – more open and ‘natural’.  (I am really keen to go on the lower end of River Lot next year – we have heard that may be possible in July and October – but I still have not succeeded in convincing Dave about that).

The first lock we came to was open, so I didn’t need to get off, on what looked like a small and rickety pontoon, but I had to grab, and then climb up the vertical ladder on side of the lock (but there is always an interesting view from the top).  Once again there was a strong flow as the water came in but we managed the locking process okay.  There was about a metre from the top of the lock to the water level (to allow for higher water levels when the Baïse is in flood) so I had to climb back down the ladder to get on the boat.

The rest of our journey continued along similar lines – all the locks were empty and the gates were open, so Dave could drive in, and I used the set into the lock wall ladder for getting off and then back on the boat (in the photo below the ladder is towards the end of the lock on the left).

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The approach to the locks is usually attractive with weirs, and old mills next to them and old lock keeper’s .

We also went under several interesting looking bridges.

We saw lots of buoys marking shallow edges, which we steered clear of.

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At one stage a dragon fly dropped by to check out the map.

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We had little difficulty with the locks, although at one lock it took Dave three goes to throw the front rope up to me (about four metres).  In the end he had to lift the end up on a boat hook – a method he used with the rest of the locks.  Another small challenge was that at each lock, the rings and bollards for putting the ropes through/around are spaced differently – this meant having to adjust where we put the ropes each time (and which made it harder or easier to hold the boat depending on how the ropes were positioned), the biggest problem being the backwash under the boat – Dave thought the rope he was attending was close to breaking as La Caunette surged forward half way up the lock.  We had also noticed a boat was following us – reaching the lock just as we were leaving it. We didn’t want to share the lock with anyone so we made sure we maintained our advantage (about 15 minutes).

Three and a half hours after leaving Vianne we arrived at the Nérac lock.  We locked through and then cruised under Nérac’s beautiful 16th century Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) and on a short distance into the port.

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Mooring up at Nérac gave me a real sense of accomplishment.  It’s been a long time coming (from a cancelled boat hire in 2007 to the aborted plans to meet my brother, John, and sister-in-law, Anne, here in May this year).

It had been quite hard work going through the locks, going up and down ladders and holding the boat against very strong water flows (it’s not that physically challenging, apart from holding the boat when the water surges into the locks but it requires 100 per cent plus concentration).  It was also now 34°C so I cracked open a couple of cold beers for us, while Dave put the air conditioning unit on.

We had lunch then stayed in the cool of the boat for the afternoon.  We could hardly complain about the view.

Nerac is a small village (population less than 7,000). Records show it has been inhabited since the Bronze Age 1500 to 1200 BC and flourished during the Gallo-Roman occupation of France (1st century BC to the 5th century AD). During the Renaissance (15th and early 17th centuries) it was the centre of the French Protestantism –(Calvinism) lead by the d’Albret family (one of the most powerful in Aquitaine – Jeanne d’Albret was Henri IV’s mother).

The town is made up of two quarters, the ‘modern’ town, also known as Le Petit Nérac (Little Nérac) on the left bank (the side we are moored on) and its old town and castle on the right bank. The Château de Nérac is one of the town’s main tourist attraction, the main residence of King Henri III of Navarre and his wife Queen Margot, between 1577 and 1582 (We will visit the castle on our return trip down the Baïse). 

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Later in the afternoon Kathy (Aussie) and Richard (Kiwi) arrived on their boat Rangimãrie from Condom.  Kathy is doing her PhD and was busy with that, and so Richard set off for a walk and Dave joined him (I look forward to exploring Nérac tomorrow but today my focus was on trying to catch up on the blog).

We were also amused to see arms and legs moving around somewhat randomly on the boat in front.

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Early evening Kathy and Richard came on board for some drinks before we all went across the Pont Vieux, from the top of which we had a panoramic view of superb old buildings that line the Baïse upstream

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and of the damn and the lock downstream.

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Our destination was Le Vert Galant restaurant– this is a restaurant that serves sorbet or ice-cream with every course.  Dave had heard about it a while ago but we hadn’t been able to find it when we were here in May.

For first course Kathy had a salad but Dave, Richard and I had a ‘tartine’The restaurant claims that their tartines (slices of toast) are inspired by the story that during the Middle Ages, people did not eat on plates, but large slices of bread, called tranchoirsor rôties.  These absorbed the juices of the food served with the meal.  The bread could also be torn into pieces and then dipped into spiced mulled wine as a dessert.  Their Tartines Gourmand are made of special bread that is toasted and then covered with home-made tomato sauce, or mushroom flavoured cheesy white sauce, cooked vegetables and garnished with regional or sometimes more exotic products, and then put under the grill before serving. They are served with a side salad and a scoop of sweet or savoury sorbet of your choice (I had a basil and tomato sorbet – it was yummy).

The desserts were equally decadent.  I had a café gourmand (a coffee with a small macaron, waffle, nectarine sorbet and canelé).  Dave and Richard had waffles with two scoops of sorbet, sauce and whipped cream.

This is a family run restaurant and everyone seemed very happy to serve us.  Dave was impressed by the striped dresses the waitresses wore – they did look smart.

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The food was great and we had a very pleasant evening looking out over the canal and La Caunette.

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Sunday 25th August.  Unexpectedly, I woke during the night feeling nauseous and was sick.  I just can’t work out what is going on, as once again I hadn’t eaten anything Dave hadn’t – maybe I still have a touch of the bug I had in Bordeaux or maybe the meal was just too rich – not that I over indulged on the meal and only had one glass of wine.

I still wasn’t feeling that great when I woke up, but enjoyed a video call to my son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter.

While I was on the phone I heard Richard knocking on the hire boat in front (the one that had followed us yesterday). It was sitting with its stern against the quay and bow out into the canal – it turned their mooring ropes had been cut.  Luckily the ropes had got tangled in some small shrubs on the water’s edge (otherwise the boat could have drifted into the canal and down the weir).  Kathy and Richard, who were moored next to them, had their Australian flag stolen.  Kathy went and told the people in charge of the port, who called the police – apparently cutting mooring ropes is considered to be a very serious crime (akin to attempted murder).  The police arrived in due course (Dave suggested this could make a good plot for a Martin Walker Bruno Chief of Police book).  Meanwhile the couple from Austria, who were hiring the boat, had to wait and get more replacement rope from Locaboat in Buzet or Valence-sur-Baïse so they can move on.

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I checked my emails and saw I had received one from Westpac Card Fraud asking me to contact them as there had been some “unusual transactions” on my credit card.  I couldn’t see anything untoward when I checked my statement and wondered if it was a hoax.  However, a few emails later I was advised “The fraudulent transactions were stopped by our detection system before processing so you will not see them in your account”. They were for $673.96 and $0.85.  Thank goodness for their detection systems.  It has meant I have to cancel my cards and then go and change any direct debits I had set up to use my credit cards.  That wasted a good hour or so.

Kathy and Richard have been having problems with their engine not always starting properly, so Dave went along (as he had agreed last night over dinner) to see if he could help identify the problem. Dave spotted a few potential issues, when he looked in the engine bay, but the engine started reasonably quickly and he couldn’t really pinpoint the problem.  The man on the hire boat that had its ropes cut, turned out to be a boat mechanic but he wasn’t able to help much either.

Richard walked down to the lock and Kathy  (she started the engine first pop), left the quay (with Dave’s help with undoing ropes and pushing the boat off).  We will probably meet up with them just before we leave Castelsarrasin.

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We had intended to go to the supermarket today, but as I still wasn’t feeling that great, so Dave went off by himself.

I spent the afternoon finishing off my Bordeaux blogs (and also did a sketch of one of the flowers Dave had kindly picked for me the other day), while Dave went for a “49 kilometre circumnavigation of Nérac and its environs”.  I asked him about it when he got back and his response was, “all I can say is that it was an awesome road – combination of being out in the countryside, medieval stuff, lots of castles – it’s an interesting place”.  (Nérac is situated in the centre of a region called Pays d’Albret – the land of the Albret family.  The area is characterised by hilly landscapes full of castles, mills, and quiet streams and rivers.  It is also the country of Armagnac, the oldest brandy in France, and culinary specialties such as duck comfit, foie gras, duck rillettes, roasted pigeon and pie flamed with Armagnac.)

His travels took him downstream as far as Lavardac, where he spoke to Kathy and Richard who were moored up there, and making good progress on their return trip to Buzet today.

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Heading south he had a look at some of the locks and canals we will encounter further up the river – he was satisfied that we would manage them okay.

I wasn’t feeling very hungry and Dave also wanted to cook the steak I had put out for dinner, so he set about doing that, while I carried on writing the Bordeaux blog.

We spent the evening sitting up on the back of the boat watching the tourist boat turn as it does right by our boat, and the other comings and goings of people on both sides of the canal, in this idyllic setting.

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Monday 26th August.  We woke to another cloudy and cool morning. We had nothing specific planned for the day so we took our time getting up.  While Dave was cooking breakfast (an omelette today) the port capitain called by to register our stay and collect our mooring fees (€32.70 for four nights which is pretty good).  We checked with him about a couple of things and he said “Mondays Nérac is closed” (as we find to be the case in most of France). He also told us that there were Kiwis on the hire boat opposite us.

With the freezer almost empty, it was time to do one last restocking of meat etc to last us until we leave France at the end of September.  The supermarket is an easy ride away and we did well fitting everything into our bike.

I repacked the meat and poultry into plastic bags – the amount of packing that is used here is unbelievable – it makes a bit of a mockery of their supposed drive to cut back on plastic waste.

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Meanwhile, Dave tried to check out various bank accounts, including our Kiwibank Loaded for Travel cards – that turned out to be quite a challenge for him, but eventually we got into the appropriate website and everything was fine.

We had intended to go out for a bike ride after lunch, but it got too hot for me (34°C) – I had provisional tax to pay and a few emails to write so attended to them while Dave went off on his own.  As it turned out, Dave didn’t go very far on his bike – he went to the tourist office, found out where the railway station is (as we plan to go on a tourist train tomorrow) and then spent an hour or so talking to the Kiwis on the hire boat.

This evening, once temperatures started to drop, we went out for a walk through Le Parc de la Garenne (Garenne Park), bordering borders both sides of the Baïse, upstream for two kilometres.  The park used to be at the foot of the Château de Nérac. It was designed in the 16th century by Jeanne d’Albret and King Henri IV’s father, Antoine de Bourbon and later enlarged by Queen Margot (King Henry IV’s first wife), as a promenade for the ‘ladies of the court’.  It stretches for two kilometres and was the first park in Aquitaine to be classified as a historical site in 1909. 

One of the first things we came across was some interesting furniture cut out of fallen tree trunks.

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We met up with the Kiwis from the hire boat, and also saw a family out enjoying a ride on a horse-drawn cart.

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Then we came to the la fontaine de Fleurette (Fleurette fountain), one of several fountains in the park.  It supposedly recalls the sad tale of a young girl, the daughter of the King’s gardener, who is said, at the age of 17, to have fallen head over heal in love with Henry IV (who was two years older).  The story continues that he said he would take her to Paris and arranged to meet her in the park.  However, he didn’t show up – she was so upset, she committed suicide by throwing herself into the river.  I read that this story gave rise to the expression ‘conter fleurette’ which translate to the English word ‘’flirt.  In the cave behind the fountain, there is a representation of Fleurette draped in a languorous fashion across a rock.  There are different stories about the origin of this white marble statue (sculptured by an artist from Agenin the 18th century).  One says it was meant to evoke a shipwreck and was destined for a Mediterranean port.  The town concerned considered that it was too small and cancelled the order, so the town of Nérac acquired it to recall the tragic destiny of Fleurette (albeit one story says she didn’t commit suicide – she became a baker)Regardless, of which story is true the setting was very attractive.

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The next fountain we came to was la fontaine de Saint-Jean.  This fountain dates to the 15th century and was redesigned by Henri IV in 1578. It is named after the Knights of St John of Jerusalem who had a templar castle in the centre of Nazareth.  There are three lions’ heads (now covered in moss) where the water comes out of.

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We also stopped to look at la fontaine de MargueriteThis fountain is dedicated and named after two women called Marguerite, who lived in Nérac – Marguerite of Navarre and Angouleme, François I sister and Henry IV’s grandmother, and Marguerite of Valois, Henri IV’s first wife.

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An old wooden pavilion and two clay tennis courts also add interest to the park.  We carried on our walk to about half way along the park where we stopped for a drink at a kiosk built entirely from wood, at the end of the 19th century.

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We then went over a new foot bridge, that can be lifted up if need be when the Baïse floods.  We carried on along the left bank, ignoring a taped off area that indicated there was danger of trees falling.

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We went past a red ‘paddle’ stuck in the ground and wondered what that was for.

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We stopped to have a look at the Renaissance gardens.  Created in the early 16th century by Henri 1st of Albret, grandfather of Henry IV), it was originally a walled garden that included an Italian inspired garden as well as an orchard. A pavilion called “Mariana’s Palace”, was built by John III of d’Albret (or Henry of Navarre). Apparently, he used it to carry out his love affair with his mistress Marianne Alespée (who gave birth to an illegitimate son).  It is also said that Henry IV met his mistress here around 1542 to 1543.  The small Renaissance style garden we walked through was built in 2008.  The town council is gradually buying up parcels of land so connect the gardens once again with the Château.

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At the foot of the gardens is the Pavillion des Bains du Roi(the King’s bathing pavilion).  The octagonal stone building was constructed in the mid 16th century.  While one story says it was used as somewhere to stop and have light refreshments during walks along the gardens, another story says Henri I.  It is said the ladies of the court used to get changed here before going for a swim in the river.  Nowadays, it seems to have been claimed by pigeons, even though it has been classified as a historical monument since 1931.

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We went back through the street that took us to the top of the Pont Neuf (New Bridge), opened in 1837.  On the way, Dave was delighted to be able to pose with an old Citroën.

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The bridge is quite high above the river and provided another great view of the port and the surrounding buildings.

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We walked down a flight of steps back to the boat – Dave insisted I take a photo of him going down the stairs, so here it is.

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Dave went and picked some figs from a tree next to the boat while I got our dinner ready, which we enjoyed on the back of our boat , ending another good day in this slice of paradise.

 

Once again this post seems to have got long very quickly – there is so much to write about.  We have a busy day tomorrow and I am sure I will have lots to write about so this seems like a good place to sign off.

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