Oh! The Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss
We are walking across France! From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic!!
I am so excited! Soon we will be walking a little over 300 miles from Sete to Bordeaux along the Canal du Midi which is absolutely gorgeous! We have had so many friends and family tell us that they enjoy reading about our adventures that we decided to blog about the journey across France! 🙂 Here is a little more information about the Canal.
Built under the reign of Louis XIV between 1666 and 1681, the Canal du Midi is home to 328 structures (locks, aqueducts, tunnels, bridges, etc.) and constitutes a major example of hydraulic engineering of the modern age. Its creator successfully combined technical prowess with a concern for architectural and landscape aesthetics.
Listed a Grand Site de France, since 1996, the Canal du Midi has also been recognised as World Heritage by Unesco, which described it as “one of the most extraordinary examples of civil engineering of the modern age which paved the way to the industrial revolution”. It constitutes not only a real technical achievement but also a work of art, given that the canal’s creators were able to incorporate the structure into the very varied landscapes through which it runs. It runs through major towns and cities such as Toulouse, Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, Trèbes, Béziers, Narbonne, Sète, and Agde, among others.Linking the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
As of the Antiquity, many plans to cut the Canal linking the Mediterranean to the Atlantic were developed. In 1662, the suggestion of Pierre-Paul Riquet, the salt tax collector in Languedoc, caught the attention of Louis XIV, who saw it as the opportunity to mark his reign with a timeless work of art.
The royal decree of October 1666 authorised the construction of the canal. Many workers were employed (up to 12,000!) and the labour was organised in great detail, enabling the canal to be opened up to navigation on 15th May 1682 and just a year later to merchant traffic.
The great technical feat of the Canal du Midi was achieved by Pierre-Paul Riquet and involved transporting the water from the Black Mountain down to the foot of the Naurouze (189 m), the highest point in the course. In order to take into consideration the water flow and volume, Riquet constructed a model that included locks, tunnels and outfalls, before finally deciding upon the definitive route the canal would take.
The 42,000 plane trees that line the Canal du Midi were originally planted to reduce the collapse of the canal’s banks and to stabilise them. The alignment of these trees, each spaced 7 to 8 metres apart, forms a colonnade, creating a “magnificent landscape monument”. The plane trees filter the light and protect sailors from the heat during those hot summer months in the South of France.
We will be writing as often as we can and look forward to sharing our journey with you.
Au revoir pour le moment.
Leigh & Adam