We joined the Canal du Midi at Marseillette, about thirty kilometres west of Narbonne, and walked westward for five days to Avignonet-Lauragais, the village where we had first met the canal in 2004.
This section took us into the heartland of the religious persecution of the thirteenth century known as the Albigensian Crusade.
The victims were the Cathars, citizens of Languedoc, and the pretext for their persecution was their belief in a slightly different form of Christianity envisaging God and the Devil as equal and opposite forces.
Unspeakable horrors were committed by papal soldiers and eventually the Cathars were wiped out. Carcassonne, Bram and Castelnaudary still bear the scars of this time.
Another interesting thing about this section was the crossing of the Seuil de Naurouze – the highest point on the canal and the threshhold between east-flowing and west-flowing locks.
To feed these locks, an ingenious system was designed, bringing water from the mountains to the north via a channel called the Rigole.
This engineering feat, and indeed the whole conception and execution of the Canal, was impressive, considering that it was almost four centuries ago and the only means available were spirit levels, horses, and men with picks and shovels.
We were able to camp every night along the canal, unlike in the few days before, and we also managed to eat in restaurants, although not always very grandly. The weather remained cool, which was good, and showery, which was not so good.
Day 6: Capendu to Trèbes
Day 7: Trèbes to Carcassonne
Day 8: Carcassonne to Alzonne
Day 9: Alzonne to Castelnaudary
Travel day: Avignonet-Lauragais to Beaune