Friday, September 9, 2022

Walking the Canal

Canal de la Bobine in Narbonne

After a month here in Narbonne, we will be moving up to Argens-Minervois, where we will be meeting up with our son and his partner and renting a boat to travel on the Canal de Midi. If you have been following my posts for a few years, you will recall that we did this in the UK a number of times (September 2015 and September 2017) on the unique narrowboats used in the UK. Here in France the canals are wider, the locks bigger and the boats are not so “narrow”. I will of course be posting about that part of the vacation, but today we decided to walk down to the canal which runs through Narbonne and connects to the Canal de Midi which we will be experiencing. 

The canal system in France was built to connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean through France in the 1600’s and completed in 1681 and has been operating without interruption for over three centuries.

Boats Moored in Narbonne

The canal here in Narbonne is called the Canal de la Robine, and it connects the town to the canals running north to Toulouse and south to the Mediterranean. We found the canal on our first day exploring the town as it runs right past the Halles Market and many days an open market is held along the banks of the canal. Just down from the Market is a famous bridge which was built with houses on it, and now contains an up-scale shopping area.

Walking the Canal

We headed in the opposite direction out of town following rows of boats moored alongside the canal in the town. As in the UK, these canals were originally built before the days of railways and boats towed by horses were an important means of transportation, so the canals usually have a “tow path” running alongside the canal which are maintained today as nice smooth, flat recreational trails. In town these pathways are paved, but once you leave the town they become gravel, but are widely used and we encountered many walkers, runners and bicycles. 

Plane Trees along the Canal
The canals here in this area of France are famous for their stately plane trees lining the banks. These trees provided shade along the canal and in many places it was like driving through a tunnel of leaves. Unfortunately it is thought that during the war, American ammunition boxes introduces a disease called Canker Stain which is slowly killing the trees and many have had to be cut down. In places where the disease has killed most of the trees, new planting of varied species are being carried out and the mixed types of trees should avoid this in the future. 

We walked about two kilometres along the canal and in minutes we were out of town and walking in the French country side. In many ways these French canals are not so unlike the ones we were accustomed to in the UK and provide a relaxing and unique way to see the country. I am looking forward to exploring further in the boat we will rent. Stay tuned!

Modern Highways and Ancient Canals Coexisting

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting! We've been enjoying walking along the canal here in Ottawa. Can't wait to read about your boat trip.