As the crow flies, it’s only about 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) to Trèbes which is the next town east of Carcassonne along the Canal-du-Midi. The driving distance is 10 kilometers that you can cover in around 13 minutes. According to our local tourist authority’s booklet Walks: Nature and Heritage if you follow the towpath along the canal you can get there in 2 and ½ hours on foot. Since we have chosen to live without a car and our avid-hiking friends, Gaynor and Pete were with us, you can guess how we got there.
Actually we cheated a bit because there’s an 80-cent city bus (free at age 65) that goes there hourly and we thought that being on foot for 5 hours round-trip might be too much. One description of Trèbes that I read said that while it might lack any traditional tourist sites, it abounded in practicalities for those same visitors, especially for those traveling by boat. The bus let us off directly beside the port where numerous boats were being readied for a week or more on that same canal that passes close to where we live. Bill and I have often discussed how much fun it might be to float leisurely along this waterway, enjoying lunch or afternoon wine topside in the sun. Our return journey to Carcassonne, minus the bus, reminded us why we’ve always chosen other ways to relax.
We left Trèbes via the towpath just as a group of vacationers was guiding their rental boat carefully around a curve and under an arched stone bridge right in the middle of town. We waved back and forth to each other and wondered where they might be headed. Over the next couple of hours we had the chance to wave again (and again) to each other since there are 5 locks to navigate between the two towns where we were able to catch up with our water bound travel companions. As mid-day approached we noticed a traffic-jam of sorts as several boats were tied up on each side of lock that did not seem to be filling or emptying. But of course; it was lunch time and the keeper had gone to have her/his lunch leaving the boaters no choice but to do the same!
Onward we continued with no movement on the water except the wind, some ducks, and a muskrat. The song of the nightingale was everywhere as we admired orchids and irises at the water’s edge. With the choice of a self-drive boat (including some do-it-yourself lock operation), or even a fully-staffed floating hotel, I think we’ll continue to enjoy the tranquility of the Canal-du-Midi one step at a time.