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Auxerre to Agen

Another recumbent bike epic across France.  There seems to be a theme developing, accidentally, but based on European Bike Express' collection points; the last one was B to B (Beaune to Barcelona), this one is A to A.

Having gone down the east of France and over the Massif Central last year this year I thought I'd explore the westerly area a little more.  So, this trip went from Auxerre, followed the Canal du Nivernais to Decize, went west towards Chateauroux and Le Blanc then Poiter, followed La Vienne river skirting Angouleme, Limoge and Perigeux to get to La Reole, finally following the Canal Entre Deux Mers to Toulouse and a bit beyond before returning to Agen for the coach journey home.

About 1,500km in all.

Moving Lock

This contraption, which is no longer in use, is a moving lock.  It is a water-filled container, into which a boat sails, which then moves up the incline to let the boat sail out at the higher level.

 

Sunday strollers

Today, being Sunday, was much busier on the towpath.  Lots of joggers, strollers and cyclists.  Must be a great place to live near in that regard.

 

Toulouse

Once I got to Toulouse all signage stopped completely.  It wasn't very good once in Haut-Garonne but now it got worse.  When you first get into Toulouse, coming from the north, the canal takes a sharp left turn, but with no signage to indicate that and some sort of water course straight ahead too.  There's nothing to actually say it's the Canal du Midi or the Canal Lateral, which, given it's one of the most well know long distance cycle path in France, if not Europe, is a bit poor.  Ironically, the town hall had mounted a major exhibition all about the canal and it's designer, pity they seem to ignore it in all other respects.

At times the canal was extremely difficult to follow, at times the cycleways and paths disappeared, at times they went up and down kerbs.  However, car drivers in Toulouse did seem quite respectful of bike riders and, above all the following day when I came back into Toulouse by bus, I noticed lots of people getting around by bike.

 

Canal again

I stopped in Toulouse and had a bite to eat.  Thanks to a very helpful woman who walked a way with me and showed me a good but cheaper restaurant for lunch.  The restaurant was Thai and I had the best chicken satay I've ever, ever eaten.  The green curry to follow was pretty damn good too.

Once I then got myself out of Toulouse I was once again in the familiar territory of the canal.  Apparently right down to Castelnaudry is all asphalt, though still barely signposted.

There were also, or so I was told, no campsites anywhere nearby.   A problem excaserbated by the canal rules and regulations that don't allow any signs for camps or other places to stay.  The problem is that, for a cyclist or walker at least, an indication about a campsite isn't just advertising, it's a service, the absence of which makes the journey much more difficult.  Luckily, the campsite at Deyme had ignored the prohibition and had put up a sign, which is taken down every week or so, but which they then put back up.