Renovation work (2015-2017)
Riquet’s beloved “Neptune’s staircase” restored to its former glory
Fonseranes 9 Locks, water staircase, rise locks...the structure has lots of names and is the Canal’s most important one.
Its real name, in the 17th century when the Canal du Midi was still called the Canal Royal du Languedoc, was “Neptune’s staircase”...It just goes to show the importance of the site, the pride in its construction and its beauty too.
Alongside Sète port, this structure is one of the highlights of the immense construction imagined, desired, designed, funded and overseen (in part) by Béziers-born Pierre-Paul Riquet.
Since opening in 1681, the Fonseranes 9 Locks have become the most visited site in the Hérault region and the 3rd most visited site in the Languedoc-Roussillon (after Carcassonne and the Pont du Gard). The Fonseranes water staircase has been listed as a Monument Historique since 1996 and is the most spectacular structure on the Canal du Midi; a one-of-a-kind heritage and tourist site.
With 350 years behind it, its renovation had to be on a par with the magic it exudes: over 450,000 visitors come to admire its technical prowess and its amazing design every year.
The major project was managed by the local council and its partners to secure the 9 Locks’ future: over 13 million Euros have been invested to update the site and make it a gateway for tourists and business to Béziers Méditerranée.
EASIER ACCESS: large leafy and shaded car park via Route de Narbonne.
DISABLED-FRIENDLY: car park, different areas, bridges, floors…The entire Fonseranes site is now accessible to visitors with disabilities (wheelchair-bound, deaf, blind etc.).
LE COCHE D'EAU SITE CENTRE: building and Béziers Méditerranée Tourist Information renovation. New shop (local produce, souvenirs, books, tickets), restaurant with panoramic terrace, group hospitality room and Scénovision.
ILOT DES ÉCLUSIERS: landscaped area dotted with fun-filled information panels, a bar, a belvedere with views of Béziers and life around the canal.
LANDSCAPING: a variety of tree species such as olive, cypress and hackberry trees in place of plane trees.
PROMENADE: artistic stops to explore the site. Three bridges for three periods and an impressive view of the rise lock.
ILLUMINATIONS: subtle lighting showcases the locks and site.