Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi is 2.7 km away ( 1.6 miles ). Rent our bikes to go to the Negra lock and cycle under the stately plane trees.

The Canal du Midi, meaning canal of the two seas, is a 240 km (150 miles) long canal in Southern France. The canal connects the Garonne River to the Etang de Thau on the Mediterranean and along with the 193 km long  Canal de Garonne forms the Canal des Deux Mers joining the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Étang de Thau and was built by Pierre Paul Riquet from 1665 to 1681. 

It was designated an UNESCO Heritage Site in 1996. 

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The Canal is one of the great engineering feats of the 17th century. The logistics were immense and complex, so much so that other engineers including the ancient Romans had discussed the idea but not proceeded with it. Even so, Louis XIV was keen for the project to proceed, largely because of the increasing cost and danger of transporting cargo and trade around southern  Spain where pirates were common.

Planning, financing, and construction of the Canal du Midi completely absorbed Pierre Paul Riquet from 1665 forward. Numerous problems occurred, including navigating around many hills and providing a system that would feed the canal with water through the dry summer months. Advances in lock engineering and the creation of a 6 million cubic metre artificial lake—the Bassin de St. Ferreol near Revel — provided solutions.

The high cost of construction depleted Riquet’s personal fortune and the seemingly insurmountable problems caused his sponsors, including Louis XIV, to lose interest. The canal was completed in 1681, eight months after Riquet’s death.