To celebrate our second anniversary last Sunday, Sept. 30, Jeff and I took an absolutely beautiful, peaceful bike ride along the Canal du Midi. We started our ride from home, and were on the canal in about 15 minutes. (Funny – it seems that everything is about 15 minutes from our house.)

We actually got to see two of its 65 locks working, as water was pumped in and then flowed out to allow several boats to pass through the locks to head either up or down the canal. I’ve enjoyed passing through locks myself on boats in Norway and England, but there was something extra special about seeing this Sunday.

Also impressive was the bridge over the River Aude (photos at the end of this email.) As part of the canal’s construction in the late 1600s, several bridges were built OVER rivers allowing the canal and its boats to pass above the rivers. It’s amazing to see boats motoring by on top of a bridge (just as cars would drive over a bridge), and at the same time look 100 feet down to see the river.

I’ve given a little history about the canal below the photos. 

Above: my sweetheart – married two years now!
Above: Water being pumped into one of the locks so the boats behind me can motor through, which you can see below.

Above: Now the water has been let out; the boat has gone down with it, and can now pass under the bridge.

Above: That’s the bike path to the left, and the canal to the right.
Above: On the canal’s bridge, looking down at the River Aude
Above, me on that same bridge, with our bikes in a cute wooden (!) bike rack, and the canal on the right side of the photo.
Above: Boats going by on the bridge that you see behind me in the photo above of me with the bikes.

The Canal du Midi

  • Built from 1666 – 1681, and officially opened to traffic in 1683, (after some inaugural trips in 1681.)
  • In the late 1600s it was considered one of the greatest construction works of that century
  • 150 miles long
  • Begins in Toulouse, where it connects the Canal de Garonne with the Mediterranean – so, with the Garonne River, the Canal de Garonne (an additional 120 miles long, with 53 additional locks), and the Canal du Midi laced together, there is a continuous water route from the Atlantic Ocean (north of Bordeaux) to the Mediterranean.
  • 12,000 people were hired to work on it; all of the work was manual and dug with shovels and pickaxes (with some dynamite used for blasting.)
  • It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996


1 Comment

  • Roberto Veranes says:

    Ah, what a life! But we are not being left out. We are currently planning for 6 weeks in Portugal next summer.