Heading for Castelnaudary
Leaving Carcassonne our original plans had us staying the next night at Bram, about half way to Castelnaudary and only 6 locks. But the Bram stop was disappointing, a bit rundown. Also the town was 1.4 km from the mooring and at this stage of the trip no one was of the mind to amble in. So we passed by and sought out a shady spot further along the Canal bank to tie up to. We saw the sunset but did not see the full moon rise, which would have looked good gleaming down through the Flame trees onto the Canal. Homealone ascribed to the theory that as the sun sets (at about 9.30 pm in these parts) the moon rises. But she was asleep, as was Rosemary. Tony and I sat up to midnight waiting for the moon, to no avail. Not sure about the theory. Then again we don’t know a lot about the moon.
We set off as the locks opened the next morning. It was to be a long day. 18 locks to Castelnaudary, the last 4 being a staircase into ‘Le Grand Basin’. This is about 7 hectares of water that feeds the Canal with water in both directions. This is near the high point of the Canal and the locks all step down from here in the direction we came from and also step down as you leave Castelnaudary in the other direction. This is where we leave our boat and get back on land. We have the night on board and leave it the next morning for our hotel the Maison du Cassoulet, the ‘home of the Cassoulet’.
Dinner that night was at Chez David, a small restaurant in the back streets. This was special indeed, a superb piece of beef with a smooth brown Marsala sauce and a roasted vegetable stack. It is at this place that we will also be having our Cassoulet dinner the following night. David, the chef spoke to us convincingly of the merits of his cassoulet over that of any other place in town. His was a labour of love compared to the mere “industrial” cassoulet of other establishments, including he said the Maison du Cassoulet. Who could argue with such passionate convictions?
After divesting ourselves the boat we spent the next day wandering around Castelnaudary, having coffee in the town square and taking in the magnificent views over the hinterland and Grand Basin. We retired to our hotel for a brief breather ahead of the return to Chez David and the cassoulet.
But more of that next time.