Canal du midi
The Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi was designed by the visionary, Paul Riquet, and this stupendous feat of engineering took more than 12,000 men and women 15 years of work to build. Today the Canal is one of the great tourist attractions of our region.
An economic and political challenge
Now classed by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site, the canal is 240 km long and runs from Sète to Toulouse, linking the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. It was conceived in 1666 to ease the transport of merchandise between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean circumventing Spain and thus avoiding the Spanish tax for the Straits of Gibraltar.
A lifetime’s work
Pierre-Paul Riquet, the Canal’s creator, invested all his personal fortune to build it, confronting thousands of obstacles. His home town, Béziers, reveres him as a hero. The central avenue of the town bears his name and his statue stands there. It has been said that Pierre-Paul Riquet moved both heaven and earth to ensure that his canal should pass through the town where he was born.
Feats of engineering
The Canal du Midi is lined with 328 works of engineering marvel locks, bridges, aqueducts, tunnels and dams. Many examples of these are to be seen in the region of Béziers Cap d’Agde, such as the nine locks at Fonséranes, the Malpas tunnel, the canal bridge on the river Orb and the unique round lock at Agde, which is the only one of its kind in the world.
Away along the water
Today on the Canal, economic activities have given way to the pursuit of leisure. As well as being of historical interest, the Canal du Midi is a place to go out and explore: on foot, on roller-skates or on bikes. On water, you can cruise down it on a barge, or take a boat or a skiff. It’s up to you!.