France 2011: Day Nine

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Thursday      6 October 2011

Puichéric to Homps

Our last full day on the canal. This morning, we fry up the remaining bacon and have another round of the captain’s scrambled eggs, with coffee, juice, fresh bread, jam and cheese. Afterward, Rick, Karen and I walk into town to replenish the staples: bread and wine.

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Puichéric

We find a bakery where we pick up a couple of baguettes and then walk over to the local wine cooperative to purchase four bottles, enough to cover our last lunch and dinner on the boat.

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Inside the wine cooperative.

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The road from Puichéric to the canal.

Back on board, we head out for our final day on the canal. There’s a scary moment when we cast off from the shore and immediately discover the captain has no power at the upper deck controls! Yikes, we’re dead in the water, drifting free! Thankfully, there isn’t any traffic coming or going and Rick has time to scuttle down below to take control from the helm inside.

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After navigating through a narrow bridge–Is it our imagination or are the bridges getting narrower as we navigate south?–we tie up to the shore and reboot our giant, floating computer for what must be the sixth or seventh time this trip. Viola! The controls up top are once again operable.

We stop for lunch near La Redorte, snacking on the remainder of the cheeses, pâté, bread, steak and, of course, wine. For the first time all week we see clouds, wispy and white in the blue sky.

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Our summer weather turns to fall as our glorious ride comes to an end. Our last leg of the trip takes us under a series of narrow bridges and through our final lock. Around 3:30, we arrive in Homps, our ultimate destination, where we back the boat up to the dock (our first attempt at this maneuver) at the Le Boat marina. Some of us stay on board while others explore the town. All that remains to do is clean up, pack up, and dinner in Homps before our last overnight on board and an early check-out tomorrow in time to catch our train back to Paris.

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Le Boat terminal at Homps.

The weather is definitely turning. The wind has picked up and faint clouds continue to roll in. Anne discovers that the Capitanaire nearby stocks our favorite wine (Chateau Sainte-Eulalie) and we all snap up bottles to bring home. These are really our only souvenirs of the trip, but in my opinion, the best kind. (Back home, I’ll discover this wine is available at Binny’s and for not much more than we bought it France. Reminder to self: check the internet before you lug home bottles of wine in your suitcase.)

Writing postcards, reading, resting, and journaling fill the last hours of the afternoon until the cocktail hour when we break out wine and cheese. Then, it’s over the blue walking bridge that spans the canal and a five-minute walk in the now driving wind to Auberge de l’Arbousier for dinner. The wind has brought with it cooler temperatures, so dining al fresco on the patio overlooking the canal is unfortunately out.

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The restaurant has a comfortable, casual atmosphere. We’re among the first to arrive when they open at seven and the place quickly fills with fellow boaters. After our customary aperitif to start (I try a regional wine, something thick and slightly syrupy), we get down to our final meal on the canal. I have fish soup, chicken breast encrusted in hazelnuts with polenta, ratatouille, and squash. Everything is flavorful and delicious. To finish, chocolate mousse, café, and what I just might miss most about France, the cheese course.

Back on the boat, we all pack up as best we can before turning in. Our final night on board is a noisy one, with the wind gusting and moaning through the rigging until morning.

Clicking on any of the photos above will take you to my Flickr site where you can see more photos from the trip.

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