March 31 – During Geri’s visit, we took a beautiful bike ride from home, along the Canal du Midi, past vineyards, to our nearby town of Trebes for lunch along the canal. Just gorgeous. I’ve added some history of the Canal du Midi’s construction at the very bottom of this post.
Below: But first, here’s what the canal looks like now, fully leafed out.
Below: me in March in front of one of the canal’s locks.
Below: Geri on the lock
Below: then, to Trebes’ “restaurant row” along the canal. Our hosts at restaurant Le Quai set up a table for us – we were the only ones outside! Now, several weeks later, the whole pier is lively – filled with open restaurants tables and customers.
Below: A lovely salade Nicoise
Below: A boat coming into one of the canal’s locks
Below: The same boat, now raised up in the lock and ready to motor through.
Our bike ride was 11km (6.8 miles) one way, from Carcassonne to Trebes.
Building work on the Canal du Midi (which, by connecting to the Canal de Garonne, links the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea) began in 1667. (How they did this back then is just amazing to me). At 240 Km (150 miles US), it’s an engineering marvel, and was deemed an UNESCO world heritage site in 1996.
From the UK’s Telegraph: “The system was a masterpiece of both hydraulic and structural engineering,” and for 15 years “took 12,000 laborers to build. The first stone was laid in 1667 and it was opened officially in 1681. Its main aim was to transport wheat, wine, and silk…Commerce dried up almost immediately in 1857 when the Bordeaux to Sete railway line was opened.” Today it’s primarily used for short or multiple-day leisure cruises. It’s one of the oldest canals in Europe still in operation.
It’s funny – I’ve done a little research on it, and some articles say it has 91 locks, and others say it originally had 86 but now has 65.