The other listed site in Carcassonne
The canal, which links Toulouse and Sète, winds through the vineyards to Carcassonne town centre. The port is located opposite the station and the square André-Chenier.
Savouring the tranquillity of this unique waterway, is to allow yourself to be soothed by the sun shining playfully through the leaves of the plane trees, or to relive the sensations of the thousands of sailors since Riquet, but it's also to appreciate the picture-perfect landscapes which surround you.
Floating along on the water, you can leave all the stress, emails and queues behind you to really enjoy this 'slow' mode of travelling.
Whether you take a bike ride, along the old towpaths, or you sail like a captain in a hired boat, or you go for a guided walk, it is a time of peace for everyone, where either nature's beauty or the tranquillity is the star.
At each port and each lock there is also a chance to moor up and discover the surrounding area and the picturesque villages in Greater Carcassonne.
The best bits
- Going on a 2 hour guided cruise from Carcassonne (at the port opposite the train station)
- A bike ride along the towpath, in the shade of the plane trees, from either Trèbes or Carcassonne
- Strolling next to a lock or along the towpath
- Sailing in a boat, with no licence required, for a week
- Eating in a restaurant at the water's edge
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5 THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE CANAL
- It links Toulouse and Sète, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic: 240 km long, between 10 and 20 metres wide and 2 metres deep.
- It is home to 350 works of art: including 63 locks, 126 bridges, 55 aqueducts and 7 canal bridges.
- It is fed by water from the montagne Noire (the Saint-Ferréol and Lampy lakes) which descends the mountain to the seuil de Naurouze, the highest point on the canal
- The Garonne lateral canal (1857) links Toulouse and Bordeaux, forming the Canal des deux mers
- It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996
- Constructed according to the plans of a genius, Pierre-Paul Riquet, and thanks to a meeting with Colbert, the Financial controller for Louis XIV. Between 1666and 1681, Riquet, an adventurer of the impossible, overcame al the obstacles to make his dream a reality, which still amazes us to this day.
The original plan for the Canal went around the town of Carcassonne. This choice was made by Riquet himself, for technical reasons. Negotiations began in 1670 with Carcassonne town councillors, but these were unsuccessful as to bring the canal into the town would require a further excavation of 2 kilometres. Riquet, therefore, asked Carcassonne for 100,000 pounds for this extra work. Carcassonne rejected this, so the canal would have to be located 2 km from the town. An historical, but above all economic, error.
Very happily, technical problems arose with the crossing of the river Fresquel so the Canal route had to be redrawn. Works began in 1787 and were completed in 1810 with the Canal, finally flowing through the centre of Carcassonne.