Disembarcation was made a little easier with Irene and Stan’s help to lug all our bags along the towpath to where the car was parked.
After visiting several boat hire places and being told to phone a French number, we found that the Canalous company had a small boat available to start and finish at Carcassone. This was great because we could afterwards catch a train back to Narbonne for the next leg of the journey. Then, an hour before departure, they phoned to say our boat had had a breakdown and that we’d been upgraded. So far so good! We were to go to the base where a taxi would be waiting to take us to another base (unnamed). Assuming it would be just a little way up or down stream, we were astonished when the non-English speaking driver took us to Colombiers (near Beziers), more than an hour away.
So here we are in a port full of plastic boats, getting used to the luxury of three cabins, three bathrooms and toilets that work – all tiny but modern and functional. It all feels slightly unreal and disorienting, but with the advantage that Irene and Stan can spend their last few days here on board with us!
Now everything is up in the air again because we have to return to the same base instead of Carcassonne. More emails to Colleen and Paul, who were to meet us the, explaining that yet again our plans have changed.
We’ve now had our 30 minute (!) instruction in driving the boat, so will set off tomorrow morning towards Beziers. Irene has lent me a book set in the area around here, the Pays d’Oc, about the Cathars in the 13th century. Fascinating to pick up references to places we pass through; also to notice differences in the local dialect to the French I’ve heard elsewhere.