The Canal du Midi is without doubt the most famous canal in France and the channel was also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List on December 7, 1996. The Canal du Midi runs through the Southern of France along the Garonne and connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean.
The difficulties that accompanied its construction were to steep for most engineers. Even the Romans had plans for a similar channel. These difficulties were overcome by Pierre Paul Riquet.
A remarkable achievement!
UNESCO: “The care that its creator, Pierre-Paul Riquet, took in the design and the way it blends with it’s surroundings turned a technical achievement into a work of art.”
This canal was to provide a faster and safer travel route for merchants, because in the 17th Century all transport boats had to circumnavigate 2000 km along the coast of Spain while running a big risk of being attacked by pirates.
There had been previous attempts to dig the canal, but these were not completed because of the high price, technical problems and the problem of supplying water for the canal. This last obstacle was resolved by the construction of the Canal de Briare and by digging the Bassin de Saint-Ferreol.
The construction of the canal started in 1665 under the leadership of Pierre-Paul Riquet, who also had to provide part of the funding in exchange for a share of the profits.
In 1680 the construction of the canal was completed. The official opening took place on May 24, 1681, one year after the death of Pierre Paul Riquet.
The Canal du Midi quickly grew into a major economic route for heavy transport and this would continue until the second half of the 19th century. After, most of all transportats happened by train. The railway even took over many waterways, including the Canal du Midi, which made them even more powerful.
Since then, the channel is primarily used by tourists. Its economic function is practically nil.
One of the major advantages is of course the beautiful weather specific to the south of France. Another reason to go cruising on the Canal du Midi are the beautiful sceneries.
Experience life on the Canal du Midi: