We hurried along the Canal du Midi in the morning rush hour on the broad two-lane cycleway to get out of Toulouse and soon got into more quiet surroundings with lots of moored riverboats. They have grown from Medium to X-Large as compared to Canal de Garonne, because the locks here accommodate bigger boats.
During the 1830s, about 45,000 plane trees were planted to strengthen the canal sides and to provide shade along the 250 km of Canal du Midi. All these trees have recently been given individual numbers! At exactly 13:03 CET, we passed plane tree  # P33,000.  – But why the numbers ?
The French have a special "plane plan". During WW2, US ammo boxes [made of US plane tree boards] for the allied troops happened to also bring over from America the feared plane killer: the fungus Ceratocystis platani. The fungus spread from the boxes to the French plane trees and now, seven decades later, 15,000 planes along the canal are so infested and weak inside that they need to be cut down and burned. That's a big job and that's why the workers need individually numbered trees to keep track of the healthy and fell only those that are sick.
As soon as we passed from Haut-Garonne county into Aude county, the signs of the cycleway disappeared and the asphalted route turned into a narrow dirt track with lots of holes. The last 15 km before our Hôtel du Canal in Castenaudary took a long time to cover – but we made it in fairly good shape although it has been a very warm day with a clear blue sky above, quite a Mediterranean weather.
Tonight we will be eating the speciality of this town and region: Cassoulet. A mixed pot of beans, pork, sausage, duck and a few other undisclosed ingrediens in a brown gravy-ish fluid. A rather heavy meal, but apparently worth a try. It goes well with good beer, so that helps ... :-)
Bon appétit !