20 Nov 2010

The canal du midi, near Carcassonne

all photographs in this article by David Cobbold

The Canal du Midi is an amazing engineering achievement that dates from the late 17th century. It runs from Toulouse to Beziers, in South-West France. In Toulouse it links to the Garonne lateral canal which runs to Bordeaux, and hence provides access to the Atlantic, and, at Béziers, to the southern Rhone canal which runs to the Mediterranean.

Thanks to this canal, one can thus take a boat (provided it has no mast and a short keel!) from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean without going all the way around the Iberian Peninsula.

This waterway was responsible for the fortune of many merchants and producers from this region, who thus obtained access to wider markets for their goods: wine, pastel, cereals, olive oil and so on. Autumn is perhaps the most beautiful season for gliding down this canal on a house boat.

For information on the local wines, see my article on the Minervois region in October in this blog (French version only for the moment, but this will change soon). There are of course other options, as the canal crosses many wine districts, touching also on the appellations of Corbières, Cabardès and Malapère as one moves north and westwards.

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