Friday, 29 July 2011

Le Somail, Canal du Midi

Le Somail on the Canal du Midi is a very picturesque Hamlet which used to be a stop over place for travellers when the Canal was in full swing in recent centuries.  Now it is the hub for rented boats and barges, for peace seeking tourist enjoying a bit of relaxing boating  along the waterways. 

The Canal du Midi was the brainchild of engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet.  Opened in 1681 a year after he died.  The canal connects the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and is 240 km long, it connects from the river Garonne through to the Mediterranean sea.  The banks are lined with trees called Platinus Hispanica or Planes.  Sadly in the coming years 42000 of them will be felled and burnt because they have a fungal disease that is spread via the roots.  The aim is to fell 4000 a year.  The trees act as shade for the boats and help to stop with water evaporation.  The roots hold the banks together and when the leaves drop onto the water and sink to the bottom they act as a waterproof seal, helping to keep the water in the Canal.  They also give a bit of protection from the wind and boy does it blow in this region of France.  The Aude is the windiest department in France.

My preferred method of travelling and visiting places

I like to think that I have an apartment in every town which, you can say is almost true.  My van is the love of my life.  With its 26 year old Mercedes engine, it roars along the road and up and down mountains like a true gentleman.  I have to say that I always have a lot of people that seem to be following me.

Dinner at le Somail cooked and served in the Mercedes.

Tomato and cucumber salad from my garden

Pan-fried duck breast with pears (pears from garden)

I photographed this three-wheeled vesper when I saw it in le Somail because my husband told me that once he was hitch-hiking near to Granada and got a lift in one of these.  He Said that the man who was driving was very portly and so was my husband at the time.  He had the Madonna hanging from the central mirror and sang, at the top of his voice for the entire time that my husband was in the car, about 50 km.  I would have liked to have seen that.

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