BACK to the CANAL du MIDI
Brian was interested in seeing the dam Riquet built at Revel, the barrage of Saint-Ferréol.
After a quick stop at Castelnaudry to have the town’s famous dish Cassoulet for lunch (I will share the recipe at the end of this post ), we arrive at Revel.
There was an interesting museum about Riquet we visited that helped explain some the technical things that Brian needed to know about the Canal du Midi’s construction, and the water catchment system and how the streams that run from the dam feed into the canal at the water divide, the highest point between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea.
The water supply system that feeds the canal starts in the Massif Central, the Saint Ferreol reservoir, the dam, is located in its foothills. In order to supply the Canal du Midi, Riquet diverted part of the mountain’s water by means of a hydraulic network combining channels and reservoirs and was at one time released by three bronze taps, it was updated in 1994 to hydroelectric sluice gates.
The 18kms of channel feed both slopes of the canal feeding in at Naurouze.
Then it was onto another France Passion camper stop at an Angora Goat Farm,
The wool was beautiful, but I couldn’t imagine ever wearing an angora jumper living in Queensland, so we just bought some fresh goats’ cheese, and had a very peaceful night’s sleep.
Toulouse is the end of the Canal du Midi, and I was excited to reach it.
Not that I was getting tired of watching the canal boats slip quietly by those magnificent plane treed lined banks, or trying to manoeuvre through all those locks, but I was excited to finally be in Toulouse, a city we have driven around and past so many times on our way somewhere else.
Toulouse is a magical town, so vibrant it almost leaves you breathless with its bustling streets, trendy cafés and the most magical red/pink brick buildings.
With no local stone at their disposal, the city’s forefathers became artisan bricklayers, building magnificent churches, townhouses, and public buildings in a handsome red brick that turns from a fiery orange to a soft pink with the setting sun.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, much of Toulouse’s wealth came from its trade in ‘Woad’ a blue dye derived from plants, and if anyone has read about Boudica, the warrior Queen from Britain who came close to defeating the Romans, you will know all about woad.
Nowadays Toulouse is probably known more for its Aerospace industry, with the headquarters for Airbus, the Galileo Positioning System, and Spot Satellite Systems that supply Google with those GPS directional maps we use to get to places, and the detailed terrain images you can use to look up pics of our homes, and check out to see if our neighbour was caught on camera mowing his lawn in his undies, not naming names of course CRAIG.
And just to add to all that bustle, Toulouse was hosting it’s huge annual Marathon this weekend and there were some very fit, lycra-clad bodies wandering the sights as well.
Toulouse, known as La Villa Rose or the Pink City, I think it’s one of France’s best-kept secrets.
Castelnaudary Cassoulet recipe
- 3 T Duck Fat
- 2 Garlic Sausages, 1/4″ sliced
- 2 Duck Legs, Confit, Shredded
- 1 splash white wine
- 1 Yellow Onion, Julienne
- 2 1/2 c Chicken Stock, Unsalted
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Smashed
- 2 Roma Tomatoes, Diced
- 1 lb Haricot Beans, Cooked
- 2 T Fresh Parsley, Chopped
- 1 Bouquet Garni (3 Parsley sprigs, 2 Rosemary sprigs, 1 Bay)
- 2 Heirloom Tomatoes
- Take a dutch oven and grease it with the duck fat. Brown the sausage and duck confit.
- Remove the meats, add the onions and garlic. Slightly caramelize, then deglaze with a touch of white wine.
- Add beans and meat. Stir for a minute.
- Add chicken stock, Roma tomatoes, and chopped parsley. Bring to a simmer.
- Add tomato , bouquet garni and simmer on low for 1 hr to infuse the herb flavours.
- Add portions to bowls, garnish with fresh thyme, and serve with French baguette and enjoy.
Probably just should mention all those beans could give you a little gas, not saying it happened of course……..but maybe try the cassoulet when you are living somewhere larger than a 6m x 2.5m motorhome.