Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference – Robert Frost
Deux routes ont divergé dans un bois et j’ai – j’ai pris la moins fréquentée, et cela a fait toute la difference – Robert Frost
On the last day of our voyage to explore unexplored France, I wish to take you closer to nature. Agen has a green thumb. Rather as the saying in French goes, “avoir la main verte’ (to have a green hand, to be good at growing greenery), Agen definitely has one. The green spaces within the city and nearby, sparkling company of river Garonne have compelled me to call it ‘Zephyr’ Agen which is a ‘cool breeze’ Agen!
On y va! (Lets go)
Parc Naturel de Passelinge
How about filling the lungs with the fresh, unpolluted air, eyes with a generous dose of shades of green, ears with the chirps of the birds, mind with tranquillity, and heart with pure bliss? That’s Parc Naturel de Passelinge for you, a king-size luxury of nature…60 hectares of lush green expanse and sparkling waters to calm your nerves and soothe your senses.
Situated in the commune Boe of Agen, this park has unique biodiversity. 30 hectares of it are claimed by two lakes, Lac de Passeligne and Lac de Pélissie.
Lac de Passelinge, the bigger of the two is at the heart of the park. Both are open for fishing.
The rest, 30 hectares is an open green expanse divided into 3 play areas (for children between 2 to 12), 2 soccer fields, 1 rugby pitch, 4 city stadiums, 2 volleyball/badminton courts, and 1 petanque area.
Ane there are boundless green spaces dotted with picnic benches.
A cycling / walking track of 14km invites you to explore the park either on foot or on wheels. A small refreshment bar caters to recharging your batteries in case you run out of energy.
Le Canal de Garonne (Le Canal des Deux Mers)
Since antiquity, the inquisitive and industrious minds of the land thought of connecting the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic ocean with a continental waterway. Reason? For safer trade-transport route. While the rivers provided natural ways of transportation, the need was felt to connect the dots of the water bodies by a system of canals, ‘Le Canal des Deux Mers’ (the canal of 2 seas). A plan was devised and materialized by mid 19th century to connect the Mediterranean sea at Sete by Canal du Midi to Toulouse, by Canal de Garonne from Toulouse to Castets-en-Dorthe, and finally by the Garonne river from Southwest of Bordeaux (Castets-en-Dorthe) to Atlantique ocean.
Le Canal de Garonne runs alnog the right bank of river Garonne. It crosses the river by Le Pont Canal (Agen Aqueduct) at Agen and continues to the left bank. It is 18m wide, has 2.00m depth, and has 53 locks to connect canal basins upstream and downstream having a total difference of 128m.
The sides of the canal have wonderful cycling and hiking tracks within city limits as well as in the countryside. It also provides an opportunity for fishing apart from providing the means of transport and tourism!
Le Pont-Canal (Agen Aqueduct)
Standing in one quiet corner of the Agen city is the engineering marvel of the 19th century, Le Pont Canal – a canal bridge. It is an aqueduct to carry the Le Canal de Garonne across the Garonne river. Jean-Baptiste de Baudre, the engineering brain behind the canal used limestone from Quercy to build it. Though the founding stone was laid in Aug 1839 by the Duke of Orleans, its construction was delayed due to the laying of the railway track between Bordeaux and Toulouse.
The aqueduct came into service in 1849 upon its delayed completion. It has 23 arches, each 20m wide. It is 539m long, 12.48m wide with a canal width of 8.82m. The canal allows two vessels to pass by in opposite directions. It is the second-longest canal bridge in France. It has 4 locks allowing boats to descend the 12.5m.
It’s a pleasure to stroll by the sides of the canal water on the bridge, soaking in the alluring view of the Garonne river flowing underneath and its banks lined by the green cover. One is most likely to see a boat navigate the canal, as it is still used for transportation of goods and for tourism.
I hope you liked the greenside of Agen that makes it ‘Zephyr’ ! A lot more is left to explore at Agen like Vilascopia, underground calcite caves, churches and an adventure park. Maybe someday…one day… As of now let’s call it a day!
Thank you for giving me company all throughout April. The journey is best measured in friends rather than in miles. I am blessed to you have you as my company, my friend for this month-long voyage. My sincere gratitude to you for this benevolent act of yours. I would be happy to see you again on my blog in the future too as I plan to explore France as and when time permits. I would be more than happy to welcome you if you happen to be here at Lyon. Till then, let’s keep in touch.
*Zephyr – A Soft gentle Breeze
**The image courtesy of Wikipedia
Click here for posts so far in the “Exploring l’Hexagone” series