Boats in locks on the Canal du Midi, France.

Boats in locks on the Canal du Midi, France.

The Canal du Midi or Canal des Deux Mers is a 240 km long canal in the south of France, le Midi. The canal connects the Garonne River to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean. The canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Mediterranean port of Sète (which was founded to serve as the eastern terminus of the Canal.)

The Canal has 103 locks which serve to climb and descend a total of 190 meters. The Canal has 328 structures, including not only the locks but also bridges, dams and a tunnel.

At the town of Béziers there was a staircase of 8 locks at Fonsérannes to bring it to the river Orb. Because of flooding problems, a pont-canal (aqueduct) was later built bypassing the bottom two locks. In 1982/3, a water slope was built for barges alongside, though it is now rarely used.

The design of the Canal included the first canal passage ever built through a tunnel (the Malpas Tunnel). The Canal du Midi passes through a 173 meter long tunnel through a hill at Enserune.

The Canal also involved building the first artificial reservoir for feeding a canal waterway, the Reservoir de St. Ferréol.

The construction of the Canal du Midi was considered by people in the 17th century as the biggest project of the day. Even today, it is seen as a marvelous engineering accomplishment and is the most popular pleasure waterway in Europe.

Initially the canal appears to have been mainly navigated by small sailing barges with easily lowered masts, bow-hauled by gangs of men. By the middle of the 18th century, horse towing had largely taken over and steam tugs came in 1834 to cross the Étang. By 1838 there were 273 vessels regularly working the canal and passenger and packet boats for mail continued a brisk trade until the coming of the railways in 1857.[2] Commercial traffic continued until 1980 when it began to decline rapidly, ultimately ceasing altogether during the drought closure of 1989.
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© David Davies

Boats in locks on the Canal du Midi, France.

The Canal du Midi or Canal des Deux Mers is a 240 km long canal in the south of France, le Midi. The canal connects the Garonne River to the Étang de Thau on the Mediterranean. The canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Mediterranean port of Sète (which was founded to serve as the eastern terminus of the Canal.)

The Canal has 103 locks which serve to climb and descend a total of 190 meters. The Canal has 328 structures, including not only the locks but also bridges, dams and a tunnel.

At the town of Béziers there was a staircase of 8 locks at Fonsérannes to bring it to the river Orb. Because of flooding problems, a pont-canal (aqueduct) was later built bypassing the bottom two locks. In 1982/3, a water slope was built for barges alongside, though it is now rarely used.

The design of the Canal included the first canal passage ever built through a tunnel (the Malpas Tunnel). The Canal du Midi passes through a 173 meter long tunnel through a hill at Enserune.

The Canal also involved building the first artificial reservoir for feeding a canal waterway, the Reservoir de St. Ferréol.

The construction of the Canal du Midi was considered by people in the 17th century as the biggest project of the day. Even today, it is seen as a marvelous engineering accomplishment and is the most popular pleasure waterway in Europe.

Initially the canal appears to have been mainly navigated by small sailing barges with easily lowered masts, bow-hauled by gangs of men. By the middle of the 18th century, horse towing had largely taken over and steam tugs came in 1834 to cross the Étang. By 1838 there were 273 vessels regularly working the canal and passenger and packet boats for mail continued a brisk trade until the coming of the railways in 1857.[2] Commercial traffic continued until 1980 when it began to decline rapidly, ultimately ceasing altogether during the drought closure of 1989.
Ref:
Date:
Location:
© David Davies