Sunday, 19 June 2011

Rhone - Valence to St Gilles

As we went south the moorings were getting sparse and 'green bank' wasn't possible - so an early start from Valence and a longish run to Viviers - we grabbed the last pontoon finger next to a new 18m gin palace - the Dutch owner alternatively swore or sobbed when we got closer than 2m to him.  Quite windy so we had to run ropes to all possible mooring points.  Viviers was a nice little town so we spent two nights (mooring and electricity were free which may have contributed).

Viviers Street Scene
Viviers 18C chateau
The trip onwards from Viviers was a long slog as the nearest good mooring was Avignon - the weather was great though.

Rhone cutting
But by midday the wind built up  - from a distance we thought this commercial was a hovercraft

Sand blasted
The problem with the big locks was the eclusiers kept you waiting till they had more than one boat so we were averaging an hour a lock.   The deepest ecluse in Europe was passed.

Bolloene Ecluse - 23m
Then it was just a slog past various towers ruined or otherwise.

Tour de l'Hers
Tour de Phillipe du Bel
Then after nearly 10 hours into Avignon - which we have somehow missed in our past travels (again we squeezed into the last mooring).

Palais des Papes

Congress building
Avignon mooring
Our feet worn to the bone from sightseeing after two days we headed south  past the Benezet Bridge.

Avignon - Benezet Bridge
It was another long run as we planned to turn before Arles onto the Petit Rhone.  The current at Tarrascon whisked us quite quickly through the bridges and down to the junction.

Tarrascon - Castle du la Roi Rene
Kes was determined to keep Angie awake and resorted to tongue in ear tactics.

Then on to the Petit Rhone - very African Queen-ish with thick vegetation down to the mud brown water and no buildings - it reminded us of the Daintree River in Queensland (we kept waiting for the crocodiles to splash in from the sides looking for a snack).  After a couple of hours we arrived at the St Gilles lock into the Canal Rhone au Sete - a smiling Eclusier and a drop of 40cms!

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