Travelogue "Cruise Canal du Midi in 2009"
Agde - Carcassonne - Agde
July 6 to July 22, 2009

Together with our friends we were already more than a year in advance to find a way to sail again on this famous French channel with a custom boat which you could stay on raft with a wheelchair and preferably also could sail yet independently. Our search on the internet eventually ended up at the company Nautic who craft custom models in their range, including the Triton 1060 Handy . This boat had some adjustments making it suited for sailing as a disability, including a pullout walkway, a central elevator giving access to the forecastle and steering with joystick control. The bathroom area was perfectly adapted, so we instantly via their contact Dutch Holiday Boat booked the boat.

A little more about the Canal du Midi
About This beautiful historic canal in the south of France can be found in abundance on the current Internet. As you read, inter alia, on Wikipedia : "The Canal du Midi is a 250 km long canal between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It runs through the French regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées and begins in channeled Garonne in Toulouse and flows into the Mediterranean Sea in the fishing town of Sete. " This compound has already been coined by the Romans and Leonardo Da Vinci, but always the same problem arose; overcoming the ridge in the dry Languedoc . Only in the 17th century, the canal became more important to avoid the 2,000 km-long detour around hostile Spain. This one at the time did one month. The canal was finally designed by Pierre Paul Riquet and the Italian Francois Andreossy in the period 1667-1680. It is in the Languedoc region fed by a 30 km long power canal and the Bassin Saint-Ferreol , the largest pool of his time. There are still many other works on the channel as staircase locks, aqueducts, tunnels etc. Therefore, it was added in 1996 to the World Heritage List of UNESCO . Famous is the aqueduct or " pont-canal" in Beziers , which spans the Orb.

However, the Canal du Midi is not comparable to the current nearly linear channels that we know. Back then, it was mainly to the mountainous area to dig a canal that meanders through the landscape at the same height, thus minimizing aqueducts as well as having to construct locks. Hence this channel as a snake winds through the beautiful countryside, flanked by thousands of plane trees that provide strengthening and protecting the banks. They also provide welcome shade in this hot region. Still, you have between Agde and Carcassonne already 37 locks with an average decline of 4 meters each. These locks are all constructed oval, allowing multiple vessels can lie next to each other during the " locking ". You will also find several locks with several lock chambers in succession, in order to bridge a greater height at short distances. The largest number of contiguous locks will you Fonserannes , with as many as nine lock chambers in succession to bridge a height of 13.40 meters. Here you will find a ramp to, Pente d 'Eau' called, which they tried to replace the locks. The complex was finished in 1984, but has never worked.

In addition to the dozens of narrow bridges that you have underneath, it has also constructed several aqueducts. This mainly to bridge other rivers, where to find the biggest and most beautiful aqueduct in the city of Beziers bridges, where the channel of the river Orb. In Vias channel must cross the river Le Libron and one could not build aqueduct due to lack of height between river and canal. One has here a very ingenious and complex system designed to allow cross two streams together, which named " les ouvrages Libron " got. For the functioning of this structure, you can get a nice PowerPoint presentation in charge through this link .

Another technical feat for the time you find in Malpas , where the canal runs through a 160 meter long tunnel. For the first time in history made Riquet use of gunpowder to remove hard rocks and built the tunnel in six days, to the great surprise of the committee members who came to look at the plan and all were able to walk through the tunnel.

We started our trip to Agde with final destination Carcassonne , a range of ± 120 Km that can be completed in one week. The downside though is that you must return to your place of departure via train, bus, taxi, etc. The company also offers the possibility provided additional payment to bring your vehicle on the spot. We chose the route in two weeks each way to sail back, and moreover enjoyed a reduction for the second week. Finally you see on the way always things you did not notice on the outward journey and we could provide more time to visit cities and other attractions.

If you every day between 5 and 6 hours of sailing, you have plenty of time to also do other things like go visit cities, a hike in the area, etc. Moreover, you can rent bikes at each company and as somewhere the road a bike ride plans or programs to drive the morning along to the bakery.

The only thing you should take into account are the opening hours of the locks, which are operated between 9 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 19 hours.
The Fonserannes lock makes its size an exception and is only open downstream between 8 - 9:30 and 13 - 15.30. Upstream apply these hours: 10 - 16 and 11:45 - 18:45 pm. Also these times still vary as the season, so you will benefit from a recent sailing guide that you can buy over the internet or bookshops. You will also find these guides on board your vessel, accompanied by several other documents.

On this channel, no boat license is required, although I personally find it a necessity.
You will be made by someone from the company short ropes of how to drive a boat, what you should do during the locking of the locks, etc. But really practical experience you learn only by doing it and sail through the very narrow bridges, aqueducts and locks is no sinecure. It'll just happen that you heading for a narrow passage and suddenly on the other side of the bend, there arises another (larger) vessel. On the water fee as a general rule that big (ger) vessels always have priority and commercial vessels, but how you make it in a split second? Moreover, the boating very different than driving a car, so some experience of driving it and the knowledge of the call, including creating the right buttons is very welcome. Nobody likes the morning wake up and find that your boat is adrift amid float of the channel, right?

For those who want you can download two pdf files below with maps of the route Agde Carcassonne and a map of the Languedoc region.
Who'd like more information about this tour or marriage, we can always send us an email via the contact page . We help you gladly ...


interesting links
Here we like to mention some links in the region and related websites:
page76_20 Nautic - French shipping company to hire boats to include this region.
page76_21 Holiday Boat - Dutch shipping company to hire boats to include this region.
page76_22 Crown Blue Line - Company to hire boats to include this region.
page76_23 Aquitaine Navigation - French shipping company to hire boats to include this region.
page76_24 Picaro - Website with lots of information about everything in sailing Concern channels (super)
page76_25 France Guide - Website on the Canal du Midi with lots of info and pictures
page76_26 Canal du Midi - Website on the Canal du Midi with lots of info and pictures
page76_27 Midi Canal France - Website of the Canal du Midi with lots of info and pictures
page76_28 Canal du Midi in the picture - Website on the Canal du Midi with lots of info and pictures
page76_29 Canal du Midi Guide - Guide on the canal with several links
page76_30 Meteo France - View the forecast for the whole of France
page76_31 UNESCO - More on this channel on the World Heritage List