The Garonne Canal

When section between Sète and Toulouse was completed, Pierre-Paul Riquet had another idea, to continue the ‘Canal du Midi’ towards the Atlantic. Unfortunately the project was soon abandoned for lack of resources.

During 2 more centuries, the only way for shipping goods from Toulouse to Bordeaux was to use the river Garonne, despite all the difficulties of navigation the Garonne gave. At this time, a return journey took approximately 20 days.

If the river was to flood or there was a drought, the river Garonne was not navigable. It was only possible for trade ships to use the costly and dangerous ‘Strait of Gibraltar. A long sea voyage around hostile Spain, along more than 3000 kilometers, forcing seafarers to brave storms and Barbary pirates.

Despite all these difficulties, the river transport in the south-west France remained in these operating conditions until early 19th century.

With the industrial revolution,changes of minds and the need to optimize transport, the relaunch of the idea of building a ‘Canal du midi’ was to be able to connect the Mediterranean sea to the Atlantic ocean.

The inauguration of second section of the Canal du midi “atlantic side” was in 1856, crossing south west of France and along the river Garonne” on 193Km. Canal Latéral to the Garonne opening to navigation.

Pont canal de Répudre - © VNF Sud-Ouest

The Canal du midi (atlantic side) has numerous structures, including not only 53 locks but also 7 water slopes.
The most important Canal bridge in France is a magnificent “Quercy” stone aqueduct, 539 metres long, made out of 23 basket-handle arches located towards AGEN. The other ones allows you to cross over, amongst others, the river Tarn and La Baïse.

We can also find 83 suspension bridges, all of them rebuilt in 1933 to accommodate modern traffic.
The “Canal du midi” Atlantic side, allows navigation :
- on the Tarn, using the canal of Montech, which is 10,5Km long and has 11 locks
- the “Baïse”
- the “Lot”.

Double épanchoir- © VNF Sud-Ouest

Today, the banks of the canal du midi ‘atlantic side” recently redeveloped into ‘Green way” Voie Verte, and is located under the shade of majectic trees (more than than 100 years old) from Toulouse to Bordeaux. Canal du Midi “atlantic side” is now the favorite destination for cycling.

- More information : http://www.canaldegaronne.com

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