May 21-24,  Moissac and environs

Our base for the next few days would be a campground on the small forested Ile de Bidounet across the River Tarn from Moissac. It was quiet with large, grassed, hedge- separated, tree-shaded pitches, had a clean well maintained sanitation block and views of Moissac across the River Tarn. We entered through an old mill that straddled the small channel separating the island. After taking the morning to work on pictures and our trip report we took the afternoon to unpack the bikes and ride to a small town for groceries. A tree lined lane led past orchards and rural homes to a short steep path climbing  to the canal. The paved tow-path made for a comfortable ride in the shade of tall plane trees. About 5 km out, a sharp report like a pistol shot, and Sheila’s tire only had air in the top. I had left the repair kit behind so we carried the bike up to a small bridge over the canal and Sheila sat in the sun while I rode back to break camp to get the van. It took a while to find my way back by road and I found Sheila sitting next to a bicycle shop. The tire was irreparable, so we left the bike for them to repair and returned to camp for the night.  High winds rattled the van that night, but the morning was sunny and warm. We retrieved Sheila's bike and rode back to the canal. The winds had strewn branches along the tow-path making for a bit of a bumpy ride.  In a reverie induced by the fresh air, the scent of a newly ploughed field and fresh fallen leaves, I was startled and nearly toppled into the canal by the surprise attack of a  fallen branch. A twig had caught itself in my chain, dragged its parent branch into my feet and entangled itself in the spokes of my back wheel. I was becoming suspicious of this stretch of tow path, it is where  Sheila’s tire had blown the previous day. Fields, woodlots, and farmyards and homes lined the side of the canal, graceful single arch, one lane bridges periodically crossed the canal and occasional boats and fishers made for idyllic scenes. The toilets of a quiet, canal-side cemetery provided a convenient rest stop. We made about 20km before stopping for lunch on the way out and stopped for an afternoon snack on the return. We only made about 18 km per hour when cycling and marvelled at our friends’ 100 km per day on their trip to Calgary. Admittedly we were on twitchy, 7-speed, folding bikes with small wheels and fat tires, but we were also on near dead flat ground and had light winds. We woke to rain, discovering that our campsite had been transformed. Much of our pitch had become a shallow pond and much of the rest mud. Few of the other pitches were any better and campground staff were pushed to the limit constantly cleaning mud from the restroom floors. It was wet, cold, and raining most of the day so we stayed in the van, thankful for the furnace, working on our pictures and trip report. The only consolation was wonderful fresh croissant and baguettes delivered to the campsite. That night a couple of tom cats took shelter from the rain under our van and yowled at each other for much of the night. We had carried our folding bicycles through Spain and Portugal but had little opportunity to use them after my accident. The weather cleared in the afternoon, My shoulder could support my weight while riding, and the canal tow-paths were inviting, so we explored Moissac and the canal north of Moissac by bicycle. The canal was not as picturesque as we had hoped, but it was nice to be on the bikes, riding through rural landscapes, the quiet only occasionally interrupted by the TGV (France's high speed rail) rocketing by, and we had a pleasant snack of fresh apple, dried apricots, almonds, and cookies while sitting in the sun on the steps of a lock. Occasionally, serious cyclists in their bright spandex tops and gel padded riding pants advertising various companies, cleated shoes, and gel gloves or touring cyclists with loaded front, back, and cross-bar panniers would nod and smile condescendingly on their way by. In reality, the small wheels and short wheelbase of our collapsible bikes made them too “twitchy” to establish a comfortable rhythm or to enjoy the scenery. The weather forecast was iffy so we explored the surrounding area by car. Criss-crossing the valley and into the hills, through grain fields, pastures, net-covered espaliered orchards looking as though a plague of giant tent caterpillars had visited on the area, and through small villages, each with its rustic church spire and town square. The small hill- top town of Boudou provided a stunning view of the Garonne valley with its fields and picturesque homes, spoiled somewhat by the hilltop gradually being covered with tacky new homes built for the view.  Tertiary roads took us through rural landscapes, occasionally along magnificent alleys of plane trees, to  Lauzerte, a fortified, medieval, hilltop village (described on the next page) before returning to camp.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
View across the Tarn from camp. The canal bridge carries boats, bicycles, and pedestrians over the Tarn at Moissac. Exploring the hills around Boudou

May 21-24,  Moissac and environs

Our base for the next few days would be a campground on the small forested Ile de Bidounet across the River Tarn from Moissac. It was quiet with large, grassed, hedge-sep- arated, tree-shaded pitches, had a clean well main- tained sanitation block and views of Moissac across the River Tarn. We entered through an old mill that straddled the small channel separ- ating the island. After taking the morning to work on pictures and our trip report we took the afternoon to unpack the bikes and ride to a small town for groceries. A tree lined lane led past orchards and rural homes to a short steep path climbing  to the canal. The paved tow-path made for a comfortable ride in the shade of tall plane trees. About 5 km out, a sharp report like a pistol shot, and Sheila’s tire only had air in the top. I had left the repair kit behind so we car- ried the bike up to a small bridge over the canal and Sheila sat in the sun while I rode back to break camp to get the van. It took a while to find my way back by road and I found Sheila sitting next to a bicycle shop. The tire was irreparable, so we left the bike for them to repair and returned to camp for the night.  High winds rattled the van that night, but the morning was sunny and warm. We retrieved Sheila's bike and rode back to the canal. The winds had strewn branches along the tow-path making for a bit of a bumpy ride.  In a reverie induced by the fresh air, the scent of a newly ploughed field and fresh fallen leaves, I was startled and nearly toppled into the canal by the surprise attack of a  fallen branch. A twig had caught itself in my chain, dragged its par- ent branch into my feet and entangled itself in the spokes of my back wheel. I was becoming suspicious of this stretch of tow path, it is where  Sheila’s tire had blown the previous day. Fields, woodlots, and farmyards and homes lined the side of the canal, graceful single arch, one lane bridges periodically crossed the canal and occasional boats and fishers made for idyllic scenes. The toilets of a quiet, canal-side cemetery provided a conveni- ent rest stop. We made about 20km before stopping for lunch on the way out and stopped for an afternoon snack on the return. We only made about 18 km per hour when cycling and marvelled at our friends’ 100 km per day on their trip to Calgary. Admittedly we were on twitchy, 7-speed, folding bikes with small wheels and fat tires, but we were also on near dead flat ground and had light winds. We woke to rain, discovering that our camp- site had been transformed. Much of our pitch had become a shallow pond and much of the rest mud. Few of the other pitches were any better and campground staff were pushed to the limit constantly cleaning mud from the restroom floors. It was wet, cold, and raining most of the day so we stayed in the van, thank- ful for the furnace, working on our pictures and trip report. The only consolation was won- derful fresh croissant and baguettes delivered to the campsite. That night a couple of tom cats took shelter from the rain under our van and yowled at each other for much of the night. We had carried our folding bicycles through Spain and Portugal but had little opportunity to use them after my accident. The weather cleared in the after- noon, My shoulder could support my weight while riding, and the canal tow- paths were inviting, so we explored Moissac and the canal north of Mois- sac by bicycle. The canal was not as picturesque as we had hoped, but it was nice to be on the bikes, riding through rural landscapes, the quiet only occasionally interrupted by the TGV (France's high speed rail) rocketing by, and we had a pleasant snack of fresh apple, dried apricots, almonds, and cookies while sitting in the sun on the steps of a lock. Occasionally, serious cyclists in their bright spandex tops and gel padded riding pants advertising various com- panies, cleated shoes, and gel gloves or touring cyclists with loaded front, back, and cross-bar panniers would nod and smile condescendingly on their way by. In reality, the small wheels and short wheelbase of our collapsible bikes made them too “twitchy” to establish a com- fortable rhythm or to enjoy the scenery. The weather forecast was iffy so we explored the surrounding area by car. Criss-crossing the valley and into the hills, through grain fields, pas- tures, net- covered espaliered orchards looking as though a plague of giant tent caterpillars had visited on the area, and through small villages, each with its rustic church spire and town square. The small hill-top town of Boudou provided a stunning view of the Garonne valley with its fields and picturesque homes, spoiled some- what by the hilltop gradually being covered with tacky new homes built for the view.  Ter- tiary roads took us through rural landscapes, occasionally along magnificent alleys of plane trees, to  Lauzerte, a fortified, medieval, hilltop village (described on the next page) before returning to camp.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Route Map Route Map Slideshow Slideshow
View across the Tarn from camp. The canal bridge carries boats, bicycles, and pedestrians over the Tarn at Moissac. Exploring the hills around Boudou