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History

The construction of the Canal du Midi is one of the major achievements of Louis XIV’s reign (17th Century).It is 240 kilometres long and links the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. This masterpiece of engineering, thanks to the genius of Pierre-Paul Riquet, is one of the prides of the Languedoc. The canal brought commercial prosperity to the region. Today, leisure cruises have taken over and the Canal du Midi has been a major tourist attraction since it was granted world heritage status by UNESCO.

Pierre-Paul Riquet

Born in Béziers in 1609, Pierre-Paul Riquet made his fortune as a salt tax inspector. He was thus able to acquire the Domaine de Bonrepas, near Toulouse, where he carried out numerous experiments to find a solution to the problem of supplying water to the canal at its summit at the Seuil de Narouze.

Having convinced Louis XIV and his minister, Colbert, of the commercial benefits of his project, Pierre-Paul Riquet embarked on his great enterprise which was to take 14 years. Riquet’s strong personality and perseverance enabled him to overcome all the obstacles encountered during the canal’s construction. Sadly, Riquet died penniless on 1st October 1680 without having completed his masterpiece, which was inaugurated soon after his death in 1681.

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