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Background history

Contexte historique canal

The Canal du Midi

« The most imposing civil work since the Romans’ ones » Voltaire


The Canal du Midi was dug in the reign of Louis XIV, by a man from Béziers named Pierre-Paul Riquet. This project was inspired by another canal, the Canal of Briare created in the reign of Henry IV. In fact, the latter had created the sharing reach canal, that is to say that it makes waters flow from one side to the other.

Originally, the Canal du Midi was called Royal Canal of the two seas. It was renamed Canal du Midi after the French revolution.

People had dreamed for a long time to link the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea thanks to a canal. This idea of waterways brewed for more than 500 years before this project was really implemented.

The project dates back to ancient times, as roman emperors such as Augustus and later the King of France, Francis I of France, had already contemplated it.

In the seventeenth century, trading links within the country were weak. The communication network was old-fashioned. You had to sail around Spain to convey goods from Bordeaux to Sète! The passage of the Straits of Gibraltar was very dangerous because of the Barbary Coast pirates. Consequently, the development of artificial canal was an alternative to the unsure road network that was not adapted to the transport of heavy goods.


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