L'Ondine - Canal du Midi

L'Ondine had been moored in the Canal du Midi at Toulouse in the South of France for the previous five years. Before we set off, we spent the first day buying provisions and looking her over before setting off on the long journey to her new home in Maldon, Essex.



Everything looked fine but we soon discovered her steering had about twenty turns, lock to lock, was well stiff due to lack of use and so made her quite a handful to steer.

Also within days her alternator started playing up so had to do our best to conserve power to keep her batteries topped up.



We also found her steel dingy a handful to tow as well but after an initial attempt to get it up the bank and onto the foredeck, we discovered it must have weighed at least a ton.

 It was well beyond our means at that time and so we decided to leave getting it onboard until later.


Off ashore after our first day on the Canal


The Canal, which runs from Toulouse down to the √Čtang de Thauhas, is 240 km long and has 91 locks which serve to ascend and descend a total hight of 190 metres (620 ft).

It has 328 structures, including bridges, dams and a tunnel, and there are now over 40 aqueducts.



One of things we noticed is that there is an intense civic pride in the Canal.

Everywhere is spotlessly clean and each lock was unique.

Some even had sculptures on the lock banks like these shown above.


Imagine our surprise to come across this yacht that had originated from L'Ondine's destination, Maldon in Essex


The Grand Bassin at Castelnaudary


Jenny returning with the days provisions.



The world's first canal tunnel at Malpas



By now the alternator had packed up so we went ashore at Carcassonne and found a hardware shop selling generators. The one in the shop was a Honda jobbie priced at over ¬£1,200 and on seeing the shocked look on Jenny's face, they offered to get one priced at around 250 brought over from Beziers later and delivered to us on the canal. As we didn't know where we were moored, a taxi driver agreed to take us back and call them once he identified our location.

We paid for the gennie, returned to the barge and true to their word, the shop owner and his wife brought it down to us around 7.30 that evening.

We finally had electricity that would run the lights all evening instead of sitting half the night in candlelight.


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