Saturday morning in Valence, Mark and Mark left around 6:30 for their train, and Ken and I took off around 8am heading for the first lock. Approaching the lock, we watched as a HUGE blue barge inched its way into the lock. The tightest fit I have ever seen in the locks. We had a place to tie-up while we waited for the barge to complete his maneuver into the lock, hoping all the time, another barge would not approach in which case took precedence over cruising vessels. Leaving the lock was the same; we stayed tied up until we saw daylight on the top of his pilot house on the boat. No point in releasing earlier as we would have to “hover” in the lock for his exit. Our total time for this lock was 1-1/2 hours. We followed this barge ( Mari Lune) the entire day to Avignon through the six locks of the day and 120 kms. Mari Lune did much better in the remaining locks for the day.
Today we experienced one of the deepest locks on the Rhone River. Lock Bollene is 26 meters deep or approximately 104 ft deep and is very intimidating when you are ready to leave and look up. You feel very small when in it, especially along side the large barges and container ships.
We arrived in Avignon late in the afternoon after passing Donzere Gorge and other beautiful scenes on the Rhone. Avignon is known as the walled city of the grand Papal palace, and has the remains of the famous Balad Bridge that was bombed by the Germans.
Arriving this late made it difficult to find mooring space along the city quay, so we “rafted” along side what appeared to be an abandoned fuel barge. Worked well as we could walk across it to the quay and Eddie could have an easy time without me having to carry him. We walked into the walled city and found a very nice French bistro where we enjoyed some white wine and a light snack. The waiter was not pleased that Ken “rearranged” the table and chairs so we both could have a nice view of the street activities. After finishing and putting the table and chairs back in “order”, Ken went to do a bit of exploration and I went back to the boat to attend to Eddie and prepare for our last day on the River. After our long hot day, we were happy to make it an early evening. Ken and I were anxious for our last day on the River to reach Port St. Louis, and thus begin the new chapter of our trip. Summer on the Mediterranean Sea and St-Tropez.
Sunday, May 23rd, left Avignon around 10am after steak and eggs breakfast. Needed our energy today. We had 80 kms to go and one big final river lock and the flood lock in Port St. Louis. We knew we had to hurry toward the end of the day because the flood lock only opened one time per hour and closed for the day at 5pm. We made the last opening at 4:15 with minutes to spare. Not sure what we would have done for the night in the River, but we were glad we did not have to make that decision. The flood lock includes a lift bridge for cars so it was a slow hot process. Eddie was decked out in his fancy harness and barking at anyone and everything he thought necessary. He seemed to “feel” our excitement of the journeys end.