Canal du Midi turns 350 years old in 2016

05th January, 2016
One of the jewels of Southern France?s natural landscape, the Canal du Midi, turns 350 years old this year, making 2016 an excellent time to explore this passageway through some of the most beautiful parts of France.

Construction of the canal was first authorised in 1666, and was completed in 1681 under the visionary Pierre Paul Riquet, finally achieving the seemingly impossible dream of connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Riquet invested his entire fortune into the project, which has improved life in Languedoc ever since. Over 12,000 workers were employed to help create the canal, with the Atlantic portion of the Canal completed in 1671. Following this, the remaining section of the Canal passed through towns such as Castelnaudary, Beziers and Sete.

The completed Canal measures over 240 kilometres long, and is lined with structures which evoke admiration for just how complex they were to devise and produce at the time, including 65 locks. The locks of Fonserannes, near Beziers, for instance, features eight ovoid basins which enable barges to rise up or drop down by over 20 metres. Along the way, the Canal encounters challenges such as the Malpas hills, yet as you will discover, Riquet found a solution to overcome each and every single one.

Though the Canal previously helped to boost the industries of wine and wheat in the Languedoc region, today, the waters are no longer used for trade, but instead perused for exploring the fine landscapes offered up by the Languedoc region. Several companies provide leisurely journeys along the canal, where you can take in the natural scenery as well as visit some of France?s prettiest towns and villages, such as our friends at Les Bateaux du Soleil, who offer day cruises beginning at just ?24, as well as shorter cruises starting from ?12. Delicious food, such as paella, duck confit and salmon, is also prepared on board, so that you can also take in the tastes of France while you see the sights.

If you?d like to visit this splendid canal during its important anniversary year, visit our website to browse our range of villas in France, with several properties located close to the Canal du Midi. Image: Ludovic Lubeigt, available under Creative Commons