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canal du midi map
Canal du Midi - Languedoc France

Be seduced
by the Canal du Midi, built from 1666, by up to 12,000 men, crossing rivers, tunnelling through hills, irrigated from the mysterious Montagne Noir, with grace and beauty that lives on to this day. It runs 235 kilometers, requires over 100 locks.

It is a love affair of man, nature, and engineering. The canal was created by Riquet, the tax farmer for Languedoc who wanted to join the economies of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. He sacrificed everything to make sure of its completion - even using his daughters' dowries for the cause.

From the handsome city of Toulouse to the port of Sete, the canal cuts masterfully with grace and physical agility through the Southern France. Villages and towns reaped profit from its golden days, in grand homes, houses, chateaux that brace the waters edge. Now canal boats cruise full of tourists and leisure seekers where king fishers and bright birds sing. Lock keeper houses some still keep the keepers, whilst others have been opened up as restaurants, art galleries, and holiday homes

canal du midi, aude

paraza, canal du midi
Paraza - Riquet stayed at the chateau here


Start the Canal du Midi guide at Sete where the canal opens onto the Mediterranean, stop awhile in the pretty port of Marseillan. Then to Agde, with its fortress church, small village streets, past the thriving town of Beziers famous for bullfights in the Summer and its Flower Market, on past to the incredible 13th century Etang de Montady, with nearby Roman oppidum, going under the earliest canal tunnel in Europe.

Squeeze under canal bridges such as at Capestang with its muscular village church, and Sunday market, and stop the night under trees. Then take a side trip, through the 1780's Ecluse de Gailhousty with dry dock, on the Canal de la Robine, to Narbonne with Cathedral, shops, and a huge outdoor Market. Yearning for bathing and beaches? go on to where the canal skirts the Mediterranean.

Back on the Canal du Midi, stop in and taste the wine, as at Ventenac, glide past bluff top villages like Paraza, through graceful locks near Homps and be enchanted by master surrealist wood sculptures near Puicheric.

There are still more wonders and magic at every turn -Carcassonne - the Medieval castle and city featured in many a movie, Castelnaudary - taste the cassoulet! - where the valley widens, and finally to Toulouse, full of wild exuberance, and colorful nightlife.

sculpture on canal du midi
A colorful sculpture on the canal bank near Puicheric

Places near to visit

Pezenas - town of Moliere, antiques stores, market, galleries and old city

St Chinian - beautiful location with Sunday market, exceptional local wines

Minerve - famed cathar village astride 2 river gorges

Caunes - abbey town, well known for the marble quarries responsible for churches and public buildings from vatican outwards

Limoux - where Champagne came from originally

Why not Rent a boat on the Canal du Midi- SAVE up to 25% if you book between February 24 and MARCH 6 2017 for a 2017 boat booking for a week or more

Or rent a Holiday home on the Canal du Midi

etang de thau with sete
Etang de Thau which the canal crosses,
with Sete in background

capestang on canal du midi
The fortress church at Capestang

canal du midi near argeliers
Plane trees line the canal
especially pleasant in Autumn
The Canal du Midi is a perfect place to have a picnic. Sit under the plane trees, and watch the boats go by, or laze after the cheese and wine!
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