The Canal du Midi runs from the Mediteranean through Beziers, the Minervois, Carcassonne and on to Toulouse.
It is a UNESCO world heritage site.
You can walk, jog, or cycle on the towpath beside the canal and it's always fun to watch the canal boats going through locks.
Take a picnic, stroll until you find the perfect spot, enjoy your lunch and watch the world go by. Or why not cycle along the tow paths under the plane trees traveling from one charming village to another.
For enthusiasts of canal engineering the Canal du Midi offers a great deal:
A unique design of lock basin, roughly shaped as a womb, that could allow space for more boats than the conventional oblong basin.
The extensive use of tree planting along the Canal du Midi. Most of the trees were Plane-trees or Cypress whose roots served to stabilize the banks of the Canal itself and line the canal with the falling leaves in Autumn.
The unique canal tunnel at Malpas west of Capestang.
The first use in Europe of multiple lock systems, invented in Italy in the 17thC. A multiple lock leads directly from one to the next without any intervening length of waterway. Examples are at La Redorte and Puicheric. Beziers has a multiple five-lock system, leading to the Beziers Basin with a three-lock system.
Agde boasts a three-channel circular locks giving access up and down the Herault river.
The Canal du Midi's statistics are impressive:
- 240 km from Toulouse to the Etang de Thau: 70 metres rise from Toulouse to highest point, then 189 metres down to the sea.
- 328 structures including 64 locks.
- A “long pound” of 55km without locks.
- Lock width of 6m. Channel width of 19m.
- Water depth 1.6 to 1.8m.
- 250,000 planted trees.
- The Canal du Midi is one of Europe’s longest and widest canal systems and in 1994 was designated a World Heritage Site.