It was not a good night – we all slept poorly. The daytime high temperature has been right around 90 degrees F and it has not been cooling off significantly overnight. We also had issues on the boat with the inverter sounding an alarm throughout the night. We were not connected to a power source overnight, so the air conditioner on the boat would not have been useful – even if it had been working. Since today was Monday and a workday at Canalous, we planned on contacting the Homps base to get a technician to meet us somewhere along the route to resolve the issues.
After breakfast at our mooring location, we departed Roubia for the little town of Paraza, located about 2.5 km eastward. According to our guidebook, Paraza is noted for the wine produced at the in-town chateau. The chateau of Paraza, in turn, is noted for being the location where Pierre Paul Riquet – the “father” of the Canal du Midi – lived during the construction of the canal. According to our guidebook, Mr. Riquet was a salt tax collector who not only managed to convince the French Finance Minister of the viability of building the canal, he also offered to finance a portion of the work. Evidently being a salt tax collector paid well.
Sadly, we learned that Mr. Riquet, after a series of challenges, died ruined and embittered just six months before the Canal du Midi was opened in 1681. So clearly, both the chateau of Paraza and the Canal du Midi have been around for well over 300 years. After docking the boat along the town’s moorage area, we sauntered up the gently sloping hill following the directional signs in search of the chateau.
We did not find the chateau, but instead came upon a very large stone building in excellent condition with a huge industrial-sized door and noticed wine making equipment inside the building. There was no one around indicating that we shouldn’t, so we walked through the factory area and came upon a rather large tasting area with a young lady at the serving counter. As is common, I started talking in French and she replied in English. Rather than being a native French speaker, though, we quickly learned that she was a Chinese student studying in France and had learned English before French. We learned that we had actually entered through the proper door and that the chateau was not open to the public.
After departing Paraza, I contacted Mark at the Canalous base in Homps to arrange for someone to look at our air conditioner. Even though we had traveled but 13 kilometers since leaving the Homps base, Mark informed me that we were now outside of his territory, but he would contact the base at Agde and have someone meet us at Port la Robine “within the hour”, as moorage and electricity were available there. To make a long story short, the technician was a no-show. We never heard back either from Mark nor anyone from Agde and follow-on calls to Mark’s cell phone were not answered. This was our one disappointing incident with the Canalous service, which otherwise was quite excellent for the entire duration of the trip.
We decided to stay the night at Port la Robine. Even though there is moorage, power and other amenities at Port la Robine, there were no nearby restaurants. As such, we decided to ride our bicycles along the unpaved towpath back to the town of Le Somail. We would have stopped at Le Somail on our way to Port la Robine as it looked like a rather cute town – had we not been expecting an appointment with the Canalous technician.
We had a very nice meal at Le Auberge then rode our bicycles back to the boat in the dark. The bicycles are not equipped with lights, but Jill turned on her iPhone flashlight and put it in her front bicycle basket. It did a pretty good job of lighting up the trail back to the boat and no one slid into the canal!
That night we introduced Roger and Dizela to the card game of hearts. Roger is not yet sold on the game, but we will continue working on him. After hearts, everyone else retired to bed, but I decided to do another pre-bedtime walk. I walked for about an hour along a country road that was pretty much pitch-black, except for the moonlight. No barking dogs, no people moving about, no house lights visible anywhere. So even in France, it is quite possible to “get away from it all”.