The Canal du Midi, a long story

It all officially began 351 years ago...

 

 

  • 1666: in October, King Louis XIV signed the decree authorising the construction of a canal “linking the Mediterranean to the ocean.”
  • 1667: Pierre-Paul Riquet began work between Toulouse and the Mediterranean. He was 58.

  • 1680: Paul Riquet died aged 71 on October 1st in Toulouse. 1 league (approx. 3.5 miles) of the Canal was all that remained to be finished; the Fonseranes 9 Locks were almost complete...

  • 1681: after 14 years of work by 12,000 labourers, the Canal Royal du Languedoc opened on May 24th with an opulent boat trip.

  • 1694: the Canal was considered completed. Vauban then made some modifications and improvements for 13 years whilst the canal continued functioning to stop its bed silting up and overflowing in case of floods.

  • 1789: The Canal Royal du Languedoc was renamed the Canal du Midi during the Revolution.

  • 1984: inauguration of the water slope

  • 1990: the last trade boats used the Canal du Midi. It was then only for pleasure boats.

  • 1996: The Fonseranes 9 Locks were listed as Monuments Historiques in October; the Canal du Midi was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in December.

  • 2015-2017: the Fonseranes 9 Locks site was renovated and the “Grand Site de France” listing project began.

                   

The Fonseranes 9 Locks in figures

9=1 the 9 locks become 1 with 8 basins and 9 gates.

312m long

21.5m elevation between the top of the locks (in front of Le Coche d'Eau-Site Centre) and the Orb’s water level where the Canal du Midi initially came out into.

2 years (1678-1680), how long it took to build the 9 Locks, completed in 1680 shortly after the death of Pierre-Paul Riquet