ALONG THE CANAL DU MIDI
THE SOURCES OF THE CANAL DU MIDI
The royal route for river tourism in Europe, the Canal du Midi symbolises the good life, French-style. Among the 328 structures along the canal, sights worth seeing include the first major dam in Europe at Lake Saint-Ferréol, the cornerstone of the water supply to the Canal du Midi, as well as the Canal Museum & Gardens, which offer a trip back to the historic sources of this amazing construction, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since December 1996.
"The Sources of the Canal du Midi" is the name of the Grand Site Occitanie that water engineering brought to life. It encompasses Lake Saint-Ferréol, the bastide town of Revel and the Abbey-School of Sorèze.
Other sights to see are the Répudre aqueduct bridge, La Redorte spillway, Le Somail harbour, the Malpas tunnel, the nine locks of Fonseranes, the round lock of Agde, the structures on the Libron, and the Pointe des Onglous headland at the Étang de Thau.
Here are a few essential destinations for visitors travelling from Toulouse, the pink city on the banks of the Canal du Midi which is well worth a scenic detour in itself:
- Lake Saint-Ferréol, the Canal des Deux Mers reservoir, and nearby Sorèze with its royal abbey-school. By Lake Saint-Ferréol: the Canal du Midi Museum & Gardens, unique in France, provides an insight into the Canal du Midi adventure and the personality of its founder Pierre-Paul Riquet.
- Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can discover the Basilica of St. Nazarius, the Count's Castle and the ramparts.
- Homps, then Le Somail: a charming little village that all visitors simply must see, with its gourmet food shop on a barge, La Péniche épicière, and its bookshop "le Trouve tout du livre".
Along the way, you will see the Château de Paraza, where Pierre-Paul Riquet lived while the Canal was being built.
- La Maison du Malpas; at the foot of the Oppidum d'Ensérune, where the ancient Roman road named Via Domitia runs alongside the Canal du Midi. It invites you on a journey through time to discover some remarkable historic sites: the Oppidum d'Ensérune, the dry lake of Montady-Colombiers, and the Malpas tunnel, the Canal du Midi's only tunnel and the first of its kind in the world.
- Passage through the Fonseranes locks: on the outskirts of the city of Béziers, the Nine Locks of Fonseranes form a unique heritage site and tourist attraction. This is certainly the most spectacular structure offered by the Canal du Midi, attracting over 450,000 visitors every year.
The Regional Tourist Board's press team is here to help you tailor this programme to suit your requirements and organise your trip to Occitania.
- by car: Occitania has a large number of motorways (A9, A20, A61, A75, etc.).
- By plane: the region has several airports, including the international airports of Toulouse, Montpellier and Lourdes.
- By train: the region is accessible from all the major cities of France and the European capitals.