Friday, 27 November 2009

The Canal du Midi

The Midi Canal, in existence for more than three centuries, (327 years), was constructed by Pierre Paul Riquet between 1667 and 1681, with the help of about twelve thousand workers, who dug out 7,000,000m³ of earth to connect Toulouse and Sète.

This represents 240km(150miles) of canal, built using only manpower, during the reign of Louis ⅩⅣ, the Sun King, “ Le Roi Soleil ”.

Conceived to enable the transport of goods and the French Navy between the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea, it is now almost exclusively used by pleasure boats.

During your trip you will discover a
canal lined by trees, which meanders through the land of the “ Cathars ”, passing on the way locks, bridges and aqueducts of the period.

You will come to appreciate the calm of the picturesque little villages, which have preserved their charm and gastronomy, practically intact since the canal's construction.

Béziers is the birthplace of Pierre Paul Riquet, the builder more than three centuries ago, (327 years), of “The Midi Canal”, a truly magnificent engineering achievement which connects the Mediterranean with the City of Toulouse. The canal is now a paradise for cruising and leisure, and it is possible to hire a boat for the day, or dine out on a restaurant barge.

The Midi Canal, as with most of the canal system of France, and some rivers, is operated by the VNF (Voies Navigables de France). The regional head office for this canal is in Toulouse.

Tel : +33 (0) 562 151 191

There are branch offices at :
Béziers : +33 (0) 467 118 130
Carcassonne : +33 (0) 468 250 150

On this canal the minimum air draught is 2.46m (8ft.9ins.) and minimum water depth 1.39m (4ft.6ins.).
The canal is open all year, but from the first Saturday of November till two weeks before Easter, there are often sections closed for maintenance work. During this period navigation is only possible by prior arrangement with the VNF.

The minimum lock size is :
30.5m (100ft.1in.) x 5.34m (17ft.6ins.)

The locks are closed on these dates :
January 1
May 1
July 14
November 1 & 11
December 25

The information given here is provided with the best of intentions, and is, we believe, correct! However, if any of the dimensions or times are critical to you, we suggest you contact the VNF for an update.

Don't forget that certain locks, like those at Béziers, have separate times for ascending & descending.

The locks are normally open

08:00 - 12:30
13:30 - 17:30
08:00 - 12:30
13:30 - 18:00
08:00 - 12:30
13:30 - 19:00
08:00 - 12:30
13:30 - 19:30
08:00 - 12:30
13:30 - 18:30
08:00 - 12:30
13:30 - 18:00
08:00 - 12:30
13:30 - 17:00

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Happy romp!!