Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Water slope in the Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi was built between 1666 and 1680 by Pierre Paul Riquet, though not single-handed I suppose. The idea was to connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea to help trade. It was an amazing feat of engineering with 360 km of navigable waterways, 328 structures such as bridges of which 64 are locks. But it was not only a functional engineering feat because they took the trouble to plant 250,000 trees along its length so that it would harmonsie with the landscape.
In fact there were as many 12,000 workers on the canal at one point, and this included a large number of women who were specifically employed to look after the water systems.
This postcard shows the series of 8 locks at Fonsérannes (normally spelt this way in spite of what it says on the card) to allow the canal to change level by almost 25 metres. These days the locks run alongside a "pente d'eau" or water slope to allow boats to pass more easily. Because of the lack of trade, it is no longer used and pleasure craft use the original series of locks. It is very like the similar set up at Montech.
The Canal du Midi as a whole has been listed as a World Heritage Site.