La Redorte - ©VNF, M. Bonneaud

In La Redorte, after the mooring point at the La Fabrique port, you'll come to the Argent-Double spillway that was created to guide the excess waters from the canal into the Argent-Double river, and then a few metres further on, the aqueduct of the same name carries the canal over this river.

The Maison de La Redorte at La Fabrique port

When the Canal du Midi opened for navigation, the village of La Redorte was actually quite far from the waterway.

Due to the business generated by navigation, more and more merchants and craftspeople wanted to be located close to the canal, and this expanded the village. There were many coopers in this area, who made the barrels needed to transport wine and brandies. This manufacturing activity is where the port got its name (fabrique means 'manufacture' in French).

These coopers are no longer working there today, but wine production is still booming. There is a cooperative winery nearby, on the Rue du Port. One of the houses facing the port also now houses an information point and visitor's centre.

Less than a kilometre downstream from the port of La Redorte, before the Métairie du Bois bridge, there is a former 'dînée' (lunchtime stopover) for the 'barque de poste'. This passenger transport service took travellers between Toulouse and Agde in four days.

The barge stopped at inns known as 'dînées' for lunchtime stopovers and then at the 'couchées' for evening meals and overnight stays. The 'barque de poste' arriving from Toulouse stopped in La Redorte at lunchtime on the third day. Travellers could get a hearty meal here and leave fully satisfied.

There were stables next to the inn for the horses that towed the barge at this time. The horses were guided into the stables when they arrived, and the rested horses were equipped for departure.

A chapel was also available for travellers who wanted to attend mass. This chapel is no longer there today, but the inn is still standing. However, don't go there looking for something to eat because it now houses the Carcassonne-Minervois branch of  Voies Navigables de France, in charge of managing the canal.

Argent-Double spillway
to evacuate the excess waters

This structure was part of the recommendations made by Vauban to improve the Canal du Midi, and was built in 1693. It is one of the most original structures on the Canal du Midi as the bridge has eleven arches. The purpose of this structure is to evacuate the excess waters of the canal into the Argent-Double river.  

This is done in two ways. The first whereby surface water is evacuated using a weir (overflow system) at the lowest part of the bank near the arches. The water then flows into the Argent-Double river down below. After surface water evacuation, the second means of evacuation is via an actual spillway mechanism, i.e. an outlet valve that is activated by hand and lets water flow out from the bottom. During the maintenance work in winter, this is how the canal pound (section between two locks) is emptied. 

A passage under the arches was created to provide a dry alternative for the horses on the towpath, and avoid the weir which could be slippery and dangerous for them.

Argent-Double aqueduct

Argent-Double river, just like most rivers in the Mediterranean, has a flow that can vary considerably depending on the season.

Close to the spillway, an aqueduct was built so that boats could bypass this obstacle at any time of year. This big aqueduct, commissioned by Vauban, has three arches.

It was built by construction entrepreneurs Colin and Launay in 1689.

The Canal du Midi aqueducts