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April 9, 2012

La Baïse: Condom to Valence-sur-Baïse

Filed under: Canal boating, Canal des Deux Mers, Europe, France, Infrared, Photography — Tags: , — anotherheader @ 7:45 pm

The Herault rests at port in Valence-sur-Baïse (HDR)

La Baïse

The morning dawned clear and cool in Condom.  A month earlier, in the middle of September, we started our journey near the mouth of the Rhone River with sunny hot days and unpleasantly warm nights.  Now fall’s chill had set in. The days were pleasant and short-sleeved but the early mornings had the bite of cold.  Fall was coming.

Still water in Valence-sur-Baïse's port (mirrored color IR)

Amongst the Herault’s issues was a periodic electrical problem.  Locaboat told us where the hidden fuse box was.  Flipping this switch, sometimes more than once, usually fixed our shore electricity supply problem at least as long as we hadn’t already blown out the entire dock’s power supply.  The Herault, it seems, had become a roving power outage.

Valence-sur-Baïse would be the final destination for the crew of the Castelmoron.  Or, more accurately, the crew of Castelmoron that remained.  Christian had left earlier replaced by Dana and Tim who departed Condom with Kearth for Paris in the morning.  Only two Morons remained, Bob and Judy.

The stretch of the Baïse from Condom to Valence is narrower and more feral than any waterway we’d navigated so far.  Brush on the banks impinges on the channel and exaggerates the river’s bends.  Indeed one twist of the waterway is severe enough to be labeled the “Kamikaze Virage” in the map book.  Silt threatens to choke off river travel.  While we were there the VNF was actively dredging the shallower sections.  Still, it is France.  Inexperienced tourists can rent a barge and take it through even this sketchy section of river.

During the first night in Valence-sur-Baïse the Herault developed another problem–the heater malfunctioned.  Inside the poorly insulated plastic bumper boat living through the now cold nights without heat was a serious issue.  And so it was that we woke to a brisk morning in the port and needed to warm like reptiles in the sun.  Perhaps there were thoughts of leaving Valence early but we’d wait to have heater repaired.  (This was the first of many repairs to Herault’s heater.)  Fortunately Valence-sur-Baïse is a Locaboat base.  Being at a base, even while it was in the process of shutting down for the season, made service a little easier.

Inside Valence-sur-Baïse's church (HDR)

The Castelmoron enters the Graziac double lock on the Baïse River (color IR converted to B&W)

We spent two nights in Valence-sur-Baïse’s quiet port.  Valence’s town center is up on a hill overlooking the water.  We recall Valence particularly for a pleasant lunch under the arcade on the central square at a workingman’s restaurant.  It is the type of place where the menu of the day is the only option and the pichets of wine are included with the meal.  At nearby tables workers finished their lunches with multiple slugs of the local Armagnac brandy.  It was early Friday afternoon, the beginning of the weekend.

The next morning we inherited the Castelmoron’s leftovers, bid adieu to the Morons Bob and Judy, and retraced our route back down the Baïse.  Our days on the Baïse had been a side trip, a very pleasant distraction.  Seven days ahead of us was the goal of our journey, the terminus of the Canal des Deux Mers in Castets-en-Dorthe.


Days 32 and 33

Start:  Condom

Finish: Valence-sur-Baïse

Travel time*:  2.8 hours

Cruising time**:  2.8 hours

Distance traveled:  10 kilometers

Lock chambers transited:  4

Weather:  Cool and cloudy, fall has come

At the end of the day, our trip across France was 71% complete based on cruising time and 68% complete based on distance covered.  We had passed through 190 of the 246 locks (77%) 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).


  1. These are sick. Nice shot!

    Comment by HunterWebbPhotography — April 9, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  2. […] very popular Canal des Deux Mers. Off of the Canal de Garonne, to reach Nerac and Condom and the end of the navigable Baïse, the beam needs to be less than 4.20 meters. To reach the extremes of France’s waterways, a barge […]

    Pingback by Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: What Size? | Wanderlust — July 12, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

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