Barge Life in Toulouse – www.seaotter.fr

WORK PLAN FOR 2019 !

The coming year is likely to include treating the boat to new ropes and fenders and  repainting the forward deck and gunnels in high traffic areas. We will need to make a decision on a full repaint for which we have a provisional booking (£3500 plus travel) from a very well established narrow boat painter in the UK who will travel out to Moissac to do the work.

For our trip back up the Rhone ((subject as always to Head Office approval!) we plan to install  Navicart on an Android tablet equipped with a GPS dongle. Whilst we have found physical maps perfectly serviceable, (there is almost a complete set for France on board) and always rely on these first instance, however the electronic map ( as seen on HMS Puddldeduck during autumn manouvers) features additional useful data including EIS signals from other boats, VHF channels at locks and so on.

ON BOARD WINTER ENTERTAINMENT

Nulife has a WiFi dongle repeater /extender that allows public wifi to be broadcast in the boat., supplemented by our 100GB Free.fr data SIM (Euro 19.99 per month including calls to UK landlines)

For most purposes this allows unlimited Radio 4 listening, especially Women’s Hour!  Our  state of the art 4 speaker system in the saloon connects to  fitted (stereo!) car radio and connects remotely to Ipads / Iphones etc and a blue tooth speaker connected to Alexa – our boat has certified artificial intelligence!

We receive the main BBC and Channel 4 signals via Filmon for a small monthly subscription which can then be viewed on the laptop or IPad. A large satellite dish (50 cm + ) is in storage  and all the wiring is in place for fitment and a flatscreen TV is easily reinstated if we decide to in due course. Satellite reception works ok with the large dish in Toulouse and a clear line of sight is straightforward.

Our most recent modification is ‘state of the art’ cuckoo clock (features remote time adjustment by radio signal)  reminds us when its time for spirits up! The cleverness of this Japanese made clock extends to shutting up during the hours of darkness and eavesdropping on our most private conversations!!

Finally but not least  Nulife is now also also a floating  piano bar cum gin palace, having acquired a state of the art Yamaha P125, an 88 note piano keyboard , which is providing plenty of port entertainment!

La Vie en Rose
We have found Toulouse to be a truly  exceptional city and rate its moorings worthy of five star rating!

Port St Sauveur is centrally located, about 15 min walk from the old city centre. The port is adjacent to the Grand Rond, a stunning 19th century lawned garden with architectural fountains and a bandstand, mercifully free of dogs(!) The garden is just  a three minute walk away and in summer is our back garden – perfect for picknicking in summer in deep shade.

Nearby is the covered market at Carmes for daily food shopping – this market has amazing produce to rival its sister market in the old centre (Marche Victor Hugo).   There are superb Daily and Sunday markets nearby and of course more restaurants one can shake a stick at. We are doing our best at working through them !

Useful information can be found on Lonely Planet  and France Today which are worth a read.

COSTS

Perhaps because the Port is run by the Mairie mooring charges are reasonable for a secure city centre location at around Euro 1100  (£1000 approx) for 6 months, excluding electricity (17c/KwH net of tax) for our  12 metre boat.  Summer mooring charges at Moissac are around Euro 140 to 160 per month if desired, so about the same. The boat has its own calibrated electricity meter so we can keep an eye on the leccy.

Toulouse Port is gated so safe and secure. The port has its own  car parking spaces on the canalside nearby, opposite the Port –  very useful and convenient as parking is can be a nightmare in the city centre!  In the Capitainerie there is a common room with books, tables, puzzles and games plus showers and loos if wanted.

A pleasant 10 minute walk away is the tram terminus at Palais de Justice. A thirty minute trip by tram (  Euro 1.30 ) whisks  you to Blagnac airport which itself is an oasis of calm and a pleasure to experience if you are used to the chaos and shouting of UK airports. Trams run typically every 10 minutes from before 6am until about 23.30.

Flights to Stansted and/ or Gatwick / Heathrow/ City Airport  in UK are in abundance through Easyjet/Ryanair and BA. The low cost carrier flights are typically very cheap except for the extreme peak times over Bank holidays and the like. Our UK houseboat is located near Tottenham Hale so we have made extensive use of the Ryanair  flights in the last year, at times almost commuting back and forward whilst carrying out maintenance at home! Despite the regular lateness  (30 mins to an hour ) and the odd flight cancellation, it has been super cheap travel (we bought 3 sets of return flights  of less than £90 in June so less than £15 each way with basic baggage).

Eurostar is an alternative more relaxing option with even an afternoon departure at 2pm from Gare Matabiau travelling on the Bordeaux bound TGV with a 8pm Eurostar departure arriving in St Pancras around 10pm, – enough  time to make your connection in Paris between Montparnasse and Gare du Nord.

Further afield this summer we found upstream of Moissac plenty of free off grid moorings and indeed some where water and electricity are  also free-  so it’s entirely possible to cruise the summer months at very modest cost. This is in contrast to the Canal du Midi, where, as you approach the Med, things get progressively more costly.

WHITHER BREXIT?
Obviously Brexit adds some uncertainty to the mix, however we have decided to continue our travels and adventures, albeit in slightly amended form, as to do otherwise would probably curb our travel ambitions without any real immediate issues.

We believe in travelling with glass half full (literally too!) and three months seems to be the limit on the new permit t travel, will be something we can comfortably work around. We are encouraged by the fact that UK to Europe has confirmed that flights will not be disrupted and the other effects can be mitigated. The pleasures and benefits of life in France hugely outweigh any tendency to worry too much about  the details of Brexit now that the most basic tenets like flights and travel permit  (likely to be valid for three years and cost Euro 7) have been outlined so we fight on and hope the whole thing will implode under the weight of its own absurdity.

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