Cell in Canal – Oh no, Episode 8 – Narbonne by Day

Arriving in Narbonne on Friday evening the riverside jetties were chock en block full and it was a struggle to find a berth close enough to a power point, so we had to move a few uninhabited boats along the jetty in order to get our power lead plugged in! Resourcefulness had creeped its way into our psyche!

Cell in Canal Narbonne berths for boats

41 Narbonne, pretty as a picture! We were moored upstream at the power points. Note those high rise Dunjons!

We stocked up with proviand from a supermarché on the opposite bank on the river, put our walking shoes on and took a shanks pony tour of the quite glamourous inner city of Narbonne. It is really amazing how the memories of that walk through Narbonne are imprinted and how the next day Saturday, we found our way around and did the very touristy things like café and drinks in the Main Square. Then a tour of the tower Dunjons of Palais de Archevequé, and the 196 steps to the upper Dunjons. There was such an awesome view, way up there, which had one thinking “Why go to all the trouble of building such tower block dunjons for  les criminals? Surely it would have been easier to use the below ground variety or in true French tradition, Le Guillotine!”

Cell in Canal dunjon gilles acylin narbonne

42 Palais des Archevequé / the town hall with Les Dunjons Gilles Acylin next door to give the tourist a 196 step work out to the top cells and a view to die for!

After the Palais des Archevequé, we were wowed by the Saint Just et Saint Pasteur Cathedral where Mass was going on and Heavenly Sound from the choir kept the spiritual juices flowing. Then a tour through Narbonne’s version of catacombs, a left over from the very yore Roman Empire days, where we were treated to an amazing view of how people lived then, and how through the ages, as civilisations came and went, the people used and changed the way they used the myriad of dark underground tunnels and chambers. There were even remains of an underground bottle store, but using earthenware jugs, obviously!

Cell in Canal Narbonne catacombs

43 The underworld of Narbonne in Roman Empire times. The bottle store is just down the passageway!

Now about now Elna disappeared! Apparently going off on a shopping spree and we were all concerned whether a fifth suitcase would become a necessity, to add to the four she and Ronnie had lugged through the Parisian streets! Linda, Telani and Simone were more concerned about missing out on the shopping spree! I, on the other hand, was happy that Linda had not gone off with Elna! We still had to do the final leg of our journey, four days in and around London! As it turned out, to the relief of all, especially Ronnie, Elna had just gone window shopping.

What do boys do on a Saturday? If not negotiating canals, not on the shooting range, the golf course, the paint ball field or tennis court etc, then we watch Rugby! Once we had finished with the touristy stuff and the girls had tired of our company, the three Musketeers went searching for a venue in soccer crazy Narbonne that would be willing to tune into the Springboks vs Australia Tri Nations rugby game direct from Newlands in Cape Town. Frans came up trumps after the other two failed miserably to convince other venues to tune in! Ronnie and I received an SMS to arrive at Le France restaurant, where an accommodating bistro manager had tuned in at Frans’ request! Then out of the blue the biggest rugby fan of all, Elna, finished window shopping, joined us to cheer her Bokkies on!

Cell in Canal Le France restaurant

44 It really was an accommodating and classy restaurant, and as the girls led us out of there, after the rugby, les garcons were busy setting the tables with antique cutlery that had escaped the Nazi’s clutches as they pilfered La France of it’s treasures!

The Bokkies just seem to have the Aussie’s number.  Although it was a competitive rugby game we downed our beers and cheered the Bokkies’ win! Le France restaurant, apart from creating confusion with the Le or La, was a classy joint and we had taken an executive decision to stay on after the game and nosh there! Arrive the girls who made their own executive decision, dragged us out of the Pub, as they referred to it, and took us to a classier establishment which sadly disappointed us with very average food and presentation! Sometimes a girl just has to listen to Pappy!

Cell in Canal vive la france

45 Everyone knows its La France but our classy restaurant decided on Le France!

Later that evening we dispersed our overstock proviand to new arrivals around us and packed to get ready for the next leg of our journey. Tomorrow, Sunday, we would have an early start, Paris by Bullet, this time with a stop at Montpellier on the northward journey.

Our Ubervan dropped us early enough at Gare de Narbonne and a call went out for coffee and Frans and Ronnie ventured off to the Lève Tôt kiosk where the various orders were placed. As I sat with the girls, in shallow contemplation, as always, I had a sudden vision of our two intrepid waiter boys, having asked for seven coffees, arriving back at Le Group with seven espressos! I rushed off to Lève Tôt kiosk and quickly wiped the smile off la visage de la fille de kiosk when I asked her in my excusive French: “ Nous voulons café au lait si vous plait?” With skill and expertise accumulated in making thousands of cups of coffee, la fille had already prepared five espressos! I received a scowl and my two waiter boys, looks that could kill, as la fille, making a big show, poured, one by one, the espressos out into the sink! She then started a new process of seven cafe au laits! The other patrons at Léve Tôt shared their irritation by mumbling amongst themselves!

Cell in Canal leve tot

46 The world belongs to the Early Bird!

At last, floating high on Léve Tôt café au lait, our Bullet train arrived and off we sped for a restful journey, each of us lost in contemplation of our adventure and the logistics of getting to CDG via the Metro and RER train. Once Le Bullet had dumped us at Gare de Lyon, Le Group would splinter into four, all travelling in their own directions, each would have many pictures to share on Facebook and our Whattsapp group, and memories to savour and relate. It had been an adventure extraordinaire!

The late Great Freddie Mercury and Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now:


St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:


Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:


Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:


The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades:


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