Many generations had dreamed of connecting the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean. We had to wait for spring 1681 for this dream to come true, and this by the will and genius of a child from the Pays d'Oc: Pierre Paul Riquet… His “genius” was quite simply to think of supplying the canal with water from the streams of the Montagne Noire.
A titanic undertaking.
In October 1666, an edict of Louis XIV orders the construction of navigation and communication channel of the two seas, Océane and the Mediterranean. Riquet then commits his personal fortune and takes care of the work. The construction was done in record time. For fourteen years, at the head of an “army” of 12 workers, he built the surprising reservoir of Saint Ferréol, he overcame all obstacles by realizing 328 structures : locks, bridges (Le Somail, Pont Canal du Répudre), aqueducts, tunnels (Malpas), spillway (Patiasses)… over a length of 240 km. Since 1996, it has been classified at Unesco World Heritage.
The first canal bridge
Le Repudre Canal Bridge, located in the town of paraza and the first canal bridge to have been built in France (1676). Its construction employed up to 400 workers. It allows the Canal du Midi to cross the Répudre river.
Repudre Canal Bridge
Le Paraza Castle dating from the beginning of the XNUMXth century sheltered Paul Riquet during the construction of the Canal. Today it is owned by the Danglas family who have built lavish guest rooms and adjoins the cellar where the wines are produced and sold. wines from Domaine.
Transport and trade.
It's before all wheat trade which motivated the construction of the Canal du Midi. It was necessary to promote exchanges between Aquitaine and Languedoc. In the XNUMXth century, the vines did not yet fully benefit from the commercial openings of this exceptional waterway and its commercialization was confirmed especially in the following century.
Le port of Homps was one of the most important of the course, in particular because the barges could maneuver there. Of many wine merchants settled there and it is in Homps that the Wines of Corbières and Minervois embarked in the direction of Sète or Bordeaux. Today, the ideal place to discover the wines of Minervois is still located on the port, The House of Wines of Minervois.
Madame Cradock, a traveler from the 18th century.
A theSomail Tourist Office, visit the hologram of Mrs Cradock, an 1831th century British tourist who will tell you the story of the Canal and its journey. The Canal was not reserved for the transport of goods and many people also used it for their travels. In 28, the registers show 000 travelers!
The tourist boom
Today the barges sail the green waters of the canal to approval. Sure le Canal du Midi, people in a hurry can iron! The towpaths are borrowed with calm that one is walk or by bike, and the locks, canal bridges… recall the necessary humility and patience of men in front of this exceptional monument. The Pech Laurier Lock in Argens-Minervois is one of the 64 locks in the Canal du Midi.
Save the Canal du Midi
Since the discovery of the colored chancre disease in 2006, more than 20 plane trees had to be shot to stem the spread of the virus.
La reconstruction of this emblematic heritage is a complex project. To act in the long term, Voies navigables de France has set up a backup program, to which all actors of the territory are associated: the State, regional and general councils, municipalities, water agencies, environmental associations ... and of course all canal lover.