With reluctance we left the canal route after two weeks of bliss. We’d rented a house for a month in the Village of Lauzun, about 35 km north of Marmande where we left the canal. We still had time before taking possession of this place so we meandered amongst rolling hills with fields full of sunflowers, corn, and wheat, interspersed with grazing land and forest. In this area, and through much of France there is a web of tiny, paved agricultural roads where cars are rare — perfect for cycling. We went out of our way to Duras where the campground was shaded by an 18th century castle. Form there we left for Lauzun and a funny thing happened. Plans changed completely during the month we were there.
We fell in love with the village, made friends, and bought a little house. Now that sort of thing doesn’t happen every day. We had to leave the country when our month was up for visa reasons but that could all be dealt with and it was.
I feel like I’ve been gushing with too much praise of our routes on this journey but I can’t help it. There really has been very little about which to complain and a lot that deserved glowing reports. Mostly we’ve taken it pretty easy and that pace continued along the Canal du Midi and the Canal du Garonne. This route is not really for the adventure seeker. It is, however, quintessential France with plane trees paralleling the canal, often closing in overhead to form a complete tunnel that shades the route. The Canal du Midi is a marvel of 17th century engineering that has grown in to feel much like a natural meandering river. The old tow path alongside is a bit rough in places but as long as there is no hurry, this becomes part of its charm. West of Toulouse, on the Canal du Garonne, the surface is paved. Campgrounds and hotels are plentiful and there is no question that, when you stop for a picnic lunch, passersby will shout, “Bon appetit Monsieur/Dame.” The whole experience oozes with charm.