France 2016, Canal de Garonne (Day1)

Scarriff – Meilhan-sur-Garonne

Saturday 23.07.2016

ca. 1200 km

We cannot escape the attractions of France. We did not get enough of it  the last two summers. We had to come back.
So there we are totally exhausted after a 48 hour trip, at the little harbour of Meilhan-sur-Garonne, on the Canal Lateral de Garonne.

We started two days ago in Scarriff at around lunch time to catch the 20.00 ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg. The crossing was most pleasant. All the way the sea was as flat as a mill pond. With this state of the sea, we could have done the crossing on ARGO and saved on the ferry. Friday 16.30 saw us disembarking in Cherbourg. We used the daylight hours to get some miles under our belt and only stopped at the very pleasant and quiet Aire de les Brouzils, south of Nantes. Next morning we got a fresh Baguette from the shop and hit the road. Also it was supposed to be a “Black Saturday”, when all the French families get on the big move south and to the sea side, the motorway wasn’t too busy, save the stretch around Bordeaux. Just after 14.00 we arrived at Meilhan-sur-Garonne, where we got a warm welcome by Mike Ricketts, the harbourmaster, and his wife. They also run the adjacent campsite, where the rig could be parked up for 2,10€/day. And they run a small bar, that sells cold beer. How much we needed that now.
The slipway might well be the easiest I have ever used (also I forgot to take any pictures). So all in all an ideal base for a boat trip in this part of the world. Mike can be contacted on 06 79 11 08 07 or emailed under meilhan[at] .

We park up the trailer and take the car across the river to Marmande, were a Super U helps satisfying our most pressing worldly needs. We fill up with a solid base of food and drink for the next days to come. Once back at the boat, fridge convinced to work, everything stowed away we are invited by Paul and Sue from Southampton. On board their Piper barge we are treated to more beer and get plenty of information about the area and the canal. And lovely people they are.

A bit more relaxation in the shade in front of the Capitanerie gets me chatting to Dave, a retired navigator who got washed up at Meilhan. By now we are well informed about all the news and chatter in Meilhan. Common sense being that we absolutely have to visit the newly open pop-up restaurant “du Tertre”. So we climb up the steep path opposite the harbour which brings us right to the top of the hill with its village square and restaurant. Great view over the canal, the mighty Garonne and river valley.


The choice of menu is simple: fish or meat. So one each and a children menu. And for 16€ each we get one of the best 3course menu we had in along time. And the chef makes sure that we are aware where we are. Plenty of fois gras (duck liver) and magret du canard (duck breats) in the smoked and the fried version. We will see much more of this while we are in Aquitaine. Bring it on.


While waiting for the food, we get chatted up by Patrick, a retired journalist. We invite him to our table and order an extra bottle of red. He speaks great English and we have a most animated conversation about the small world of local France and the big world of the EU, food drink, music and love.
So within a day of being in  France we are lucky and most grateful to get the full immersion. Before falling into our beds we are treated to more drink and good company by Paul and Sue. What a wonderful day. Thanks all.