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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Villeton to Buzet

After lunch in Villeton, we passed through 2 locks before arriving in Damazan, 8.5 km from Villeton. The walled town of Damazan was built in the 13th century. 1.5 km away is the Lac du Molineau, which is open for swimming. Admission is free. Market day is Thursday am (and Tuesday evenings in the summers).

The center of town features the Mairie--the town hall.

There are half-timbered houses scattered throughout the small town.

One of the church towers rising above the buildings.

Another 4.2 km from Damazan is Buzet-sur-Baise. There are moorings--€10, including water and electricity. Buzet is known for its winemaking. Visit Cave des Vignerons to learn about Buzet wines and get a tasting.

Market day is Friday am. There is a Spar market a short distance from the boat.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Brasserie Le Jaures, Tonneins

You'll reach the first town of Villeton at PK 148.4, 1.8 km after the first lock. There's a quay for 20 boats but not much in town.

We hopped on our bikes and rode 3.5 km to the town of Tonneins. There are bike paths so avoid the main road. From the quay, turn left on the main road. At the 2nd small road, turn right and you will run into a smaller road that is perfect for biking.

In Tonneins, we had lunch at Brasserie Le Jaures. It's located at Place Jean Jaures.

We had a nice bottle of Corolle rose for €13.

I hadn't seen Perrier fines bulles (little bubbles) before. This little bottle was €4.

The restaurant offered a 3-course lunch for €15.10, 2 course for €12.50 or a main for just €8.50. You could choose any of the specials of the day. This entree (1st course) was Salade au Chèvre Chaud--Salad with Warm Goat Cheese.

This was another option for the entree--Cassolette d'Escargots Au Roquefort. This was a soup with escargots and Roquefort cheese.

Another entree option was Carpaccio de Boeuf for a €2 supplement.

One of the options for a main course was Bavette a la Plancha. I'm usually not a fan of bavette because it's usually tough but this was actually really tender and good.

Another main option was Salade aux Gesiers Confits. I love gizzard salad, especially after the great Salade Landaise at Le Socrate in Rouen. This one was loaded with gizzard and it was so good!

One of the options for dessert was Tarte au Citron--Lemon tart.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Day 1 Barging in Aquitaine

It's hard to leave on the day you pick up your boat unless you pay for early pickup. The locks close at 7 pm and the first lock is 5.2 km away. You can only go a maximum of 8 km/hour on the canal. You would have to leave by 6 pm to make it through the first lock.

There aren't many options for dinner in Le Mas d'Agenais on a Monday night. The only place that's open is a pizza place near the marina. There is a small store in town if you prefer to cook.

On Tuesday morning, Croustidor Boulangerie-Patisserie, a short walk from the marina, is open. Pick up croissants and have it on board.

The Canal Lateral a la Garonne parallels the Garonne. The canal is narrow and adorable.

There is a walking/biking path next to the canal. You can actually go faster by bike than by boat.

Many of the bridges are low. If you have a bimini on your boat, you will need to take it down to pass under the bridges.

La Halte is located right on the canal 3.6 km away. It's open early May to late September but I couldn't find the days it was open. You could dock your boat overnight for a fee.

The locks are all automatic on the Garonne and the Baise. Twist the vertical bar hanging in the middle of the canal 1/4 turn to trigger the lock process. Once the light is green, you can enter the lock. Send one person ashore to push the button to operate the lock. Secure the boat to the cleats on the side of the lock. The gate will close and the water will fill or empty. Once the water equilibrates, the other gate will open.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Le Mas d'Agenais

Le Mas d'Agenais is one of the oldest villages in the Lot-et-Garonne. It has over 2000 years of history. It's small and basically has one road. Market day is Thursday am.

Wash house in town.

There is a bakery within a 5-minute walk of the marina.

Covered market--market day is Thursday.

Eglise Saint Vincent--Romanesque Church in town.

The church was the home of Rembrandt's Christ on the Cross. The painting has been removed for restoration.

Another Christ on the Cross at the end of town.

The Mairie or town hall.

Street scene in town.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Le Boat and Delicacies of Aquitaine

From Marmande, we took a taxi to the Le Boat base in Le Mas d'Agenais. I had planned to use Uber but it turns out there aren't too many drivers in Marmande. It cost €30 for the 20 minute taxi ride.

Le Boat base in Le Mas d'Agenais. It's next to a lock so you can practice before leaving the base.

We rented a Royal Mystique (ours was #22)--a 2-cabin, 2 bath very spacious boat.

There is a wheel in the cabin in case of inclement weather prohibiting driving from the top deck. On the top deck, we had a bimini (useful to shield the sun but we had to take it down to pass under most of the bridges), seat cushions and a BBQ (which we did not use).

Large seating area. There was a TV and a CD player.

Le Boat advertises fully equipped galleys but our definition of fully equipped differs. The galley was stocked with pots & pans, dishes, silverware and 2 kitchen towels but there were no disposable items. No sponge, dish detergent, paper towels, cling wrap or aluminum foil. There was only 1 garbage bag for our 1 week trip. No salt or pepper either. Be forewarned and bring your own.

The forward cabin had a double bed.

The aft cabin could be made into 2 single beds or a single double bed. 

There were a few hangers in a small hanging area and shelves but no drawers. There were no outlets in the cabins. Coming from the US, you will need to bring adapters to use for European type outlets on the boat.

There were 2 bathrooms. No soaps or shampoo were provided. Our bathrooms had no hooks or anyplace to hang towels. Only 1 roll of toilet paper was supplied and there was 1 bath towel and 1 hand towel per passenger. I had to ask for additional toilet paper and an extra towel per person before we left the home base.

We were given a quick overview of the boat then taken for an instructional drive. Fortunately, my husband is an experienced boater and had no problems with backing up and mooring.

The boat rental was over $4,100 for 1 week. You would think the supplies wouldn't be so spartan. We rented bicycles for $63/bike/week and wifi for $77 for the week. Connectivity wasn't too bad. We also got the "package" for $659 which included CDW, 30 hours of fuel (we used only 23 hours), 1 bicycle and cleaning. All the rest were in addition to the base rate so the total rental was over $5,100.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Lunch in Marmande--L'O a la Bouche

We took the train from Bordeaux to Marmande, a 45-minute ride.

I had planned to have lunch at La Grange, a 10 minute walk from the Marmande train station. However, when we arrived, it was closed. It used to be only closed only at dinner but it was now closed all day on Monday.

Right next door was L'O a la Bouche--located at 8 rue Clavetiere.

They offered a 3-course lunch for €15 or 2 courses for €12. The entree was Risotto a l'Infusion de Lard Fume. This wasn't quite risotto in the Italian sense but a rice dish with pork fat. Doesn't sound too good but it was actually quite good.

Main was Onglet de Veau a la Reduction Balsamique. This was good as well.

Dessert was Mousse au Chocolat. Very rich in flavor but light in texture.

L'O a la Bouche wasn't too bad a substitute for La Grange.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Bordeaux--Getting Around and Seeing the Sights

It's easy to get around Bordeaux:

You can take a tram--€1.60/ticket (good for travel up to 1 hour), €6.70 for 5 tickets, €12.90 for 10 tickets. You can also get a day pass for €4.60. Be sure to validate your ticket on the tram or bus.

You can rent a bike--€1.60/day to access it. The first 30 minutes is free. After that, it is €2/hour.

You can rent an electric car. We saw these all over town but couldn't figure out how to rent them.

You can also walk. With the exception of the Cite du Vin, the major sites are within a 30-minute walk.

Eglise Sainte Croix was located just 5 minutes from our hotel. 

Cathedrale St. Andre (Bordeaux Cathedral), a Unesco World Heritage Site, is in the center of town. 

Tour Pey-Berland, a 50m high belfry, is next door.

There are numerous sculptures all over town. This one is dedicated to the wine industry.

Cite du Vin is located a 50-minute walk from the center. It's easy to take the tram or ride the ferry. This is a huge building devoted to exploring the area's wine industry. Admission price of €20 includes wine tasting in the panoramic tasting space on the 8th floor.

Pont Chaban-Delmas is located not too far from the Cite du Vin. The bridge lifts to allow boating traffic to pass underneath. This is Europe's largest lift bridge.

Along the Garonne River, you'll find shops and restaurants.

I liked this sculpture by Jaume Plensa. He's the same Spanish artist whose works I saw recently in New Orleans and Venice. 

Bordeaux is known for canele--a pastry with a soft center and caramelized exterior. We came upon La Toque Cuivree on rue Sainte-Catherine, the largest pedestrian street in Europe. 

Place de la Bourse with Le Miroire d'Eau in front. Unfortunately, there was no water in the shallow pond so no reflections from the "world's largest reflecting pool."

One of 3000 sculpted heads that adorn facades and fountains in Bordeaux. They're called mascarons!

Bordeaux is a popular stop for River Cruising in France.

Grosse Cloche--18th century bell above a former dungeon for juveniles. 

Gare de Bordeaux-Saint Jean

Shops in the lower level of the station. It came in handy when there was a train strike and our scheduled departure was cancelled. We had to wait an hour for the next train.

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