Saturday, November 20, 2010

Canal Du Midi

 This past September, Nigel and Kristin did a kayaking trip across the south of France. Is it possible to kayak across the south of France you may wonder? Mais oui! But of course! Using the Canal du Midi, the Canal Lateral, and the Garronne River and Gironde estuary, they managed over 150 locks and many portages.
Not only that, they did it in the "Doubleshot", the tandem kayak that Nigel designed for Point 65.
It was really a fun way to do the trip, being close, observing and chatting as well as working together to reach their goal of over 600 kilometers. The scenery was rich, as were the fantastic cheeses they were able to sample along the way.
Tent pitched on the canal's bank, they enjoyed some lovely wines, Gigondas, St. Emilion and Chateau Margaux to mention a few.
Carcasonne, with its medieval city and the Cloisters at Moissac were two of the historical highlights that they took time to see.
After the confines of the canals, being on a river was expansive and exhilarating! There is a large tidal bore, or "mascaret" which makes its way far up the Garonne and is surfable at spring tides. At neaps, it is still rushing along at 10 to 12 mph!
Nigel and Kristin got to experience it in the evening from their camp beside the chateux and vineyards at Portets.
On their way again, current assisted, they reached their final destination, Royan at night. By then, the wind was blowing and Altantic swell was smacking the Doubleshot from the side. Once in the harbor, they could hardly see because the rain was pelting down so hard. But as they had come to say to each other over the course of the trip, "Its better to be lucky than smart". And once again, they were lucky. Nigel and Kristin will be doing presentations about their vacation in the south of France in the coming months and in 2011. No dates yet, but Portland Kayak Co. has put in a request.