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The Canal du Midi

The timeless Canal du Midi

Ranking World Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO December 7, 1996 has given a soul to one of the oldest still operating channels, now dedicated to tourism. Built during the reign of Louis XIV, from 1667 to 1681, called the Royal Canal to the French Revolution, a distance of 240 km. Large 20 to 24 m, 2 m deep on average, there are 69 locks and 350 works spanning his course and facilitate its airworthiness. It is extended to the Atlantic by the Garonne Lateral Canal of 193 km. Property of the State, 350 Waterways of France working throughout the year to ensure the peace and security of users of the Canal du Midi.

 

 

Pierre-Paul Riquet (1609-1680), genius and visionary. The Collector General of the salt tax of  Languedoc, a native of Béziers, supported the canal project all his life. At the age of 58, with his personal fortune, he started building having previously convinced Colbert, the Intendant of Finance to Louis XIV. By order of the King, Riquet became engineer and co-financier. The work was carried out in three phases between Toulouse and the port of Cette (modern day Sète). Twelve thousand men were employed in its construction. The Canal was completed in 14 years through hard work and technical ingenuity. On May 24, 1681, the royal barge crossed the nine Fonserane locks at the foot of the town of Beziers. A grandiose ceremny was organised, but Riquet died just a few months before the opening and never got to see the waters of the Black Mountains bring his Royal Canal to life.

 

BE CAREFUL ! The famous 9 Locks of Fonseranes are going through huge restoration works !

The site will be under construction until June 2017, until then walking or cycling along the 9 locks of Fonseranes will not be possible.
The Canal du Midi remains open to boaters and you can set sail on the ship of your choice to explore the Canal’s structures, history (Nine Locks, Canal Bridge, Orb Lock) and Béziers and its exciting heritage (Saint Nazaire Cathedral, Plateau des Poètes, Allées Paul Riquet,
covered market hall) with a hop into town on the Little Train.


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