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Languedoc-Roussillon region & Canal du Midi

 

Canal du Midi © Sonia Jones

The Languedoc-Roussillon region has borders with the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne & Midi-Pyrénées regions on the one side, and Spain, Andorra & the Mediterranean sea on the other side.

Languedoc-Roussillon also house the famous Canal du Midi and is the home of many of our favorite barges. The Midi is so popular as it is one of the best places in France to uncover the secrets of yesterday, while enjoying the comforts and indulgences of today.

This bustling canal offers travelers a chance to experience France’s famous southern culture, boasting a fusion of color, tradition, taste and sunshine.

 

Map of the Canal du Midi

 

 

 

Tango Languedoc-Roussillon © Sonia JonesOriginally the Canal du Midi was constructed to link the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and was officially opened in 1681. The Canal, which connects the Garonne River and the Etang de Thau, is a total of 240 km long and was appointed as a World Heritage site in 1996. Today, The Canal du Midi has become a place for leisure where visitors and locals alike, can trade, splendour and experience the pleasures of this region.

 

Le Somail © Charlotte Routier

The Canal du Midi’s design is special as it incorporates an oval shaped lock. This lock is intended to resist the collapse of the former ‘straight walls’, and consequently use the strength of the outward arch against the inward pressure of the surrounding soil. Make sure you look out for them amongst 91 locks, which serve to ascend and descend the 190m difference in water level gradient.

The design of the Canal also included the first canal passage ever built through a tunnel (the Malpas tunnel), where the Canal du Midi passes through a 173-metre (568 ft) tunnel into the Enserune hill. You will get the chance to experience this as you cruise through this very same tunnel.

Athos Languedoc-Roussillon © Sonia Jones

 

Interestingly, during the 18th century, horse towed barges were the primary way of moving barges down the Canal and hence, where the word ‘tow path’ originates. No matter where you are on the canal, be sure to make use of these historic paths as you walk and cycle alongside your barge, taking in the experience on another level.

 

Athos Languedoc-Roussillon © Sonia JonesWhen onboard, sit back, relax and take in the colourful world of the tree lined canal, meandering through peaceful villages, vineyards and hilltop châteaux.

As your cruise enters the town of Béziers, appreciate yet another aspect of the canal, namely the staircase of seven locks, which is a phenomenal sight and feat of engineering. Dine with style on deck perhaps, with rosé in hand and watch as the crew carefully maneuvers the barge down these giant water steps.

 

Esperance - Languedoc-Roussillon © Sonia JonesWhilst on shore, be sure to bring your camera along to the stunning medieval town of Carcassonne. Indulge your sense in the local market scene of Béziers or Narbonne and why not stop and shop for local treasures like, olive oil, pottery, silverware, wine, antiques and local delicacies of the region. Don’t forget to marvel in the history and tradition that lurks around every corner, and visit an enchanting abbey or merely the local cathedral. The Midi is overflowing with things to do, and if relaxation is your only prerogative, sit back relax and watch the world drift by.

 

The barges that service this region are:

 

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