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February 18, 2012

La Baïse: Buzet-sur-Baïse to Vianne

Filed under: Canal boating, Canal des Deux Mers, Europe, France, Infrared, Photography, Travel — Tags: , , — anotherheader @ 9:28 pm

A bridge crosses la Baïse near Vianne

Canal de Garonne and la Baïse

Late in the day the Morons grew tired of Buzet-sur-Baïse and pressed for an immediate departure.  In a rush we stowed the mooring lines on deck and headed in the boats down the Descente en Baïse double lock.  With a right turn we were headed up stream on the Baïse River.

Two miles from Buzet the Baïse River crosses underneath the waters of the Canal de Garonne suspended in the Pont-canal sur la Baïse.  It was clear now that we were no longer on a manmade waterway.  Here the river meanders as it wills in a gorge.  The banks are choked with vegetation; there is no towpath.  On canals boaters are allowed to tie up for the night pretty much anywhere they want but that is not the case on the Baïse.  For a variety of reasons mooring at undeveloped spots is forbidden.  Not that the legalities matter.  The shrubbery is often so thick on the bank that finding a way to tie up to shore is near impossible.

SNCF tracks cross above the Baïse (color IR)

Cruising la Baïse

The Baïse continues with a backwoods feel until it reaches the first lock at Vianne.  The lock was closed by the time we arrived so we tied the Castelmoron and the Herault to a minimalist village-side dock for the night.

Vianne is a bastide town.  Bastides are purpose-built fortified towns created to stabilize and consolidate Royal rule in the area.  It is a trivia point that Vianne is the only one of the many bastides to be named after a woman.

Viewed from outside its walls Vianne gives the impression of a fortress.  The inside is different; the ramparts surround a village with a well-organized street plan.  Though the village is old–Vianne was finished in 1287–it feels distinct from the chaotic arrangement of most medieval towns.  Like all bastides, the town’s layout reflects a coordinated level of urban planning not typical in its age.

Vianne is a good place to explore a bastide.  Indeed it would have been worth a visit even if we weren’t forced by the closed lock to spend the evening.  But the truth is we likely would never have come upon Vianne if we weren’t traveling by boat.  It is these unplanned discoveries that make barge travel intriguing.


Day 27

Start:  Buzet-sur-Baïse

Finish:  Vianne

Travel time*:  1.8 hours

Cruising time**:  1.8 hours

Distance traveled:  10 kilometers

Lock chambers transited:  2

Weather:  Cool and cloudy; Fall has come

At the end of the day, our trip across France was 64% complete based on cruising time and 62% complete based on distance covered.  We had passed through 170 of the 246 locks (69%) of the locks that we would cross.

* The time between the start of the day and the end of the day.

**As measured by the hour meter on our boat.  When the motor is running we were either moving or standing by to move (like in a lock).

The Descente en Baïse double lock

A church in Vianne in the evening light

Approaching Vianne


  1. sweet post-production on that gorgeous rose and grey bridge shot! however, your page seems to be bogged down making it hard to navigate. not sure if it’s got something to do with image size or theme or what. just might wanna check into that

    Comment by thespaciousherbacious — February 18, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

  2. Great pics!
    But you left out the serendipitous annual “Empty-your-attics, losers!” sale in the town center.
    Where else could you get October-harvest-grape juice fresh off the hoof?
    WWII relics that really are WWII relics?
    Old women begging you to take their grandchildren’s fisher-price toys for cheap?
    (OK, that happens at flea markets everywhere)

    –Moron Judy

    Comment by Judy — February 19, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

    • Ms. Moron,

      You have a future in blogging!

      Comment by anotherheader — February 19, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

  3. […] the Herault precariously moored at the only dock below Vianne’s picturesque lock we needed to move her as soon as the locks opened in the morning.  Locks on […]

    Pingback by La Baïse: Vianne to Nérac « Another Header — March 21, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

  4. […] to a brisk mirror still morning on the beautiful Baïse River.  From Larvadac we would cruise past Vianne on our way back to the Canal de Garonne.  Behind us we left the Baïse with its small towns, deep […]

    Pingback by Canal des Deux Mers: Larvadac to Le Mas-d’Agenais « Another Header — April 13, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

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