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5 unusual anecdotes on the Canal du Midi

Publié le : 08/07/2019 10:18:55
Catégories : Visites

5 unusual anecdotes on the Canal du Midi

1. 1956, game of belote on the canal

During the great cold snap in France in the winter of 1956, the thermometer went down to -15 degrees along the Canal du Midi? There is no question of cycling, let alone sailing on the canal, so let's use this new icy playground!

2. The oval locks of the Canal du Midi

Most of the locks found in France are rectangular for simplicity. However, on the Canal du Midi, apart from those in Toulouse, all the locks have an oval shape, such as the Castanet-Tolosan lock for example. Why? 
Today, rectangular locks are resistant to water pressure thanks to the use of reinforced concrete. However, when the architect of the Canal du Midi, Pierre-Paul Riquet, designed the canal from the south to the 15th century, reinforced concrete simply did not exist. He therefore had to show ingenuity and gave an oval shape to the locks to optimize their resistance.

The Agde lock is also a real architectural jewel in itself. Indeed, with its round shape and three doors, it functions as a modern roundabout to allow boats to choose between three directions: Thau, Béziers or Agde.

3. A channel unemployed 6 weeks a year!

Every year, at the beginning of the year, 90% of the Canal du midi is emptied to allow the technicians of Voies Navigables de France to clean it, maintain it and thus preserve this heritage as well as possible. However, during this period, the fish in the canal (perch, pike, black bass, etc.) are particularly vulnerable and fishing is prohibited. This interview period is called the "unemployment of the Canal du Midi".

4. A "model" channel across the Atlantic

In May 1787, a little more than 100 years after the opening of the Canal du Midi, the American ambassador to France, a certain Thomas Jefferson embarked on the canal, which was then called Le Canal Royal de Languedoc. The future president went up the Sète Canal in Toulouse in 8 days during which he wrote a memorandum describing all his observations. Under his spell, he compared in particular in his memoir the locks from Saint-Roch to Castelnaudary to the great waters of Versailles. The objective of his trip is to draw inspiration from the architecture of the Canal Midi and the water supply system to create a similar canal between the Potomac River and Lake Erie in the United States. A lover of good wines, he took the opportunity to identify grape varieties that he could introduce to his home in Virginia.

5. Sleeping on the water

Did you know that you can sleep on a barge directly on the Canal du Midi during your stay by bike? Various barges welcome you all along the Canal du Midi, notably in Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, or Béziers to name a few.

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