Buts Mer de Mer 2012 travel blog

Buts Mer de Mer 2012

Lisle travel blog
Welcome to our trip journal, Lisle & Marg are hoping to ride from the Atlantic Coast to the Mediterranean following the Garonne River and the Canal Du Midi.

History of the Canal du Midi
It was built to serve as a shortcut between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, avoiding the long sea voyage around hostile Spain, Barbary pirates, and a trip that in the 17th century took a full month to complete. Its strategic value was obvious and it had been discussed for centuries, in particular when King Francis I brought Leonardo da Vinci to France in 1516 and commissioned a survey of a route from the Garonne at Toulouse to the Aude at Carcassonne.

In 1662, Pierre-Paul Riquet, a rich tax-farmer in the Languedoc region, who knew the region intimately, to help in the design, Riquet is said to have constructed a miniature canal in the grounds of his house, Bonrepos, complete with locks, weirs, feeder channels and even a tunnel.[2]

At the age of 63, Riquet started his great enterprise, sending his personal engineer, François Andreossy, and a local water expert, Pierre Roux, to the Montagne Noire to work on the water supply. Some of Clerville's men with experience in military engineering came, too, to build a huge dam, the Bassin de St. Ferréol, on the Laudot river. The Laudot is a tributary of the River Tarn in the Montagne Noire some 20 km (12 mi) from the summit of the proposed canal at Seuil de Naurouze. This massive dam, 700 metres (2,300 ft) long, 30 metres (98 ft) above the riverbed and 120 metres (390 ft) thick at its base was the largest work of civil engineering in Europe and only the second major dam to be built in Europe, after one in Alicante in Spain. It was connected to the Canal du Midi by a contoured channel over 25 km long, 3.7 m (12 ft) wide with a base width of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).

It was eventually equipped with 14 locks in order to bring building materials for the canal down from the mountains and to create a new port for the mountain town of Revel.

This supply system successfully fed the canal with water where it crossed the continental divide, replacing water that drained toward the two seas. The system was a masterpiece of both hydraulic and structural engineering, and served as an early ratification of Riquet's vision. It was also a major part of a massive enterprise. At its peak 12,000 labourers worked on the project, including over a thousand women, many of whom came specifically to work on the water system.

The women labourers were surprisingly important to the canal's engineering. Many came from former Roman bath colonies in the Pyrenees, where elements of classical hydraulics had been maintained as a living tradition. They were hired at first to haul dirt to the dam at St. Ferréol, but their supervisors, who were struggling to design the channels from the dam to the canal, recognized their expertise. Engineering in this period was mainly focused on fortress construction, and hydraulics was concerned mostly with mining and problems of drainage.

Building a navigational canal across the continent was well beyond the formal knowledge of the military engineers expected to supervise it, but the peasant women who were carriers of classical hydraulic methods added to the repertoire of available techniques.

They not only perfected the water supply system for the canal but also threaded the waterway through the mountains near Béziers, using few locks, and built the eight-lock staircase at Fonserannes.

The Canal du Midi as a grand piece of infrastructural engineering in itself was promoted as worthy of Rome and the political dreams behind it were clarified with plaques in Latin, and walls built with Roman features.[3]

The Canal du Midi was opened officially as the Canal Royal de Languedoc on May 15, 1681. It was also referred to as the Canal des Deux Mers (Canal of Two Seas). It eventually cost over 15 million livres, of which nearly two million came from Riquet himself, leaving him with huge debts, and he died in 1680, just months before the Canal was opened.

Order: oldest at top ( reverse )

Arrive Bordeaux
Lacanau Ocean & return...
Toulouse -day 2
Labastide D'Anjou -...
Lac de Jouarres
Narbonne day 2
Avignon - Orange
Avignon- Provence tour
Avignon - day 4
Avignon day 5 - Boat...
Paris - Day 2
Paris Day 3
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