We spent most of the morning in Nerac. Well most of us did. Jon, quite unselfishly, stayed with the boat in case it was attacked by hordes of French teenage school girls.
While he was bravely defending our vessel, the rest of us strolled along the royal gardens. This is a wood either side of the river with various memorials, wooden cut outs of animals (including an eel), fountains and pretty buildings. Very few of them are explained.
One, however, is. In fact the harbour master or the Lock Capitaine as he is also called, told us all about poor little Florette. She was quite keen on Henry VI and flirted with him. (The Lock Captaine reckoned this is where our word ‘flirting’ comes from but I’m not so sure. Having looked the etymology up, it seems that the origin of the word is actually English rather than French.) Anyway, Henry was not so keen on Florette and went away, leaving her in misery.
Naturally, just like anyone obviously would, she jumped into the river and drowned.
The statue, as can be seen, is rather deliberately provocative and sexy, as if we’re supposed to wonder how Henry could possibly have spurned her. The statue also appears to have had breast enhancements at some stage, something I’m fairly certain didn’t happen in the middle stages of the 15th century. For one thing they’d not invented silicone yet.
Leaving the poor Florette alone for now, we wandered down to the footbridge which then took us back to the other bank and back into town. We needed some supplies for lunch (beer, cheese, meat, gardening gloves, etc). Actually the gardening gloves were on the advice of the Lock Capitaine. And they were a brilliant idea. He’d suggested we get some because of a couple of accidents that, he claimed, had happened only last week.
One chap had scrapped off a couple of layers of skin by sliding the rope through his hand and the other, a man from Quebec, had hung onto the rope and subsequently plunged into the lock. Disregarding the validity of these accounts, the gloves certainly made a big difference in both grip properties and hand protection. A lot of people would probably poo-poo the idea of hand protection but I quite like my hands the way they are. And Jon agrees with me.
I must remember, the next time I go boating, to make sure I pack a pair.
The Lock Captaine (a man of great advice giving) also told us we should put our buoys up on the edge of the boat because the locks were so narrow on the river (as opposed to the canal) and I have to say, it did make quite a difference going down the river. We also avoided the boat being suspended high and dry in the locks.
And so, eventually, we set off away from the beautiful Nerac, motoring down the river until we reached the equally beautiful Vianne.
Here we moored up and had a magnificent picnic of various specialities and beer…of course. While it’s lovely eating on the top deck of the boat, it’s a greater delight to sit under a tree when the temperature is up to 30 degrees and you can sit in the shade.
Eventually, having packed up, we went for a wander.
Vianne is a wonderfully preserved fortified bastide town with a complete wall and four towers to enter it. It is sleepy but alive at the same time. A really gorgeous bastide town and a delight to wander around.
Then, all too soon, it was back to the river for the gradual return to the canal at Buzet where the amazing lock lady corralled us and raised us up to the level of the canal once more where we could find a spot to park for our final night on the river. Actually, Buzet was ridiculously busy and we wound up tied to the bank just before the bridge, our anchor being used as well as the two stakes to keep us secure.
After a short rest, John and I wandered up to the town to try and book the same restaurant we’d eaten in last week. Given it wasn’t open we sat in the bar across the road until it did. While we sat sipping beers in the sun, we listened to a group of English chaps boasting about their days fishing. One chap claimed he’d caught a couple of mackerel though both of us thought that mackerel were only found in the ocean so finding them in the Garonne Canal is possibly unlikely unless in a can. Mind you, he did have an electric motor assisted bicycle so he could have ridden down to the sea in the morning, caught his two mackerel and pedalled furiously back…I guess.
We also watched a couple of lads playing some seriously expert boules. I thought they were twins and they were very evenly matched.
It was a great way to waste time while waiting for the restaurant to receive bookings…which it eventually did.
So, once more, we had a delightful dinner with plenty of local wine and a bit of a rowdy wander back to the boat.
Actually, Jon and I were particularly rowdy and will probably never be allowed in Buzet again.