Pont-canal de la Cesse sur le canal du Midi à Sallèles d'Aude

Cesse aqueduct, Mirepeisset water inlet, Patiasses spillway and Port-La-Robine

Constructions on the Cesse
PK 167.7

2 km after Le Somail and towards the Mediterranean, the Canal du Midi crosses the Cesse river. There are several key engineering structures here. The vegetation in this area also takes on a certain Mediterranean appearance, with umbrella pines and holm oaks.

The Cesse river and its many engineering structures

The Cesse is a river that originates in the Montagne Noire region and crosses the Canal du Midi before flowing into the Aude river just upstream from the Canal de la Robine de Narbonne. This crossing was both beneficial and damaging to the canal and many engineering structures had to be built as a result.

Cesse canal aqueduct

Cesse aqueduct was built by engineer Jean Goudet upon request from Vauban between 1689 and 1690. This aqueduct is 64 metres long and 20 metres high, has three archways and the deck was built entirely from cut stone. It was the biggest canal aqueduct in Europe up until the 19th century.

On the Canal du Midi, only the Orb aqueduct in Béziers, inaugurated in 1857, is bigger.

Before this aqueduct was built, Riquet had designed a system for the canal to cross the Cesse river using a long embankment that created a man-made dam, that raised the water level so that the Cesse river would flow into the canal at the current La Robine port. When water levels were high on the Cesse, this system was overwhelmed and there were floods.

When the canal aqueduct was officially opened, the two sections of the canal that once flowed past the embankment were closed to navigation and later used for different purposes...

Pont-canal de la Cesse sur le canal du Midi à Sallèles d'Aude vu du ciel

Pont-canal de Cesse © VNF, Victor Tonelli

The Cesse, a water source for the canal

200 m upstream from the canal aqueduct is Cesse water inlet at a place known as Porte Minervoise. 

The Cesse river crossed the canal at the long canal pound (section of the canal without locks) between Argens-Minervois and Béziers, and it was used as one of the canal's main water supply sources due to the already significant distance from the Seuil de Naurouze (only water source for the canal as far as Carcassonne).

This water inlet is 2 km from the canal, in Mirepeisset near the Garenne dam. The water taken from the Cesse river is fed into a channel to then reach the canal. This supply channel uses a former navigable section of the canal that was used before Cesse aqueduct was built.

Patiasses spillway

Patiasses spillway is a very interesting and spectacular structure that was built in 1694. This construction prevents the canal from overflowing in periods of heavy rain.

A spillway is an outlet on the side of the canal that allows excess waters from the canal to be evacuated quickly, or to empty the canal pound in preparation for maintenance work. Patiasses spillway uses 6 valves to evacuate excess waters from the canal into the downstream course of the Cesse river.

Along with the Argent-Double spillway/weir, this is the most spectacular spillway on the Canal du Midi.

Plan historique de 1846 de la maison des Patiasses sur le canal du Midi, division du Somail

Maison des Patiasses, 1846 © VNF, archives canal du Midi

Port-la-Robine and the branch to the Canal de Jonction 

Port La Robine was built on the canal's former route before the Cesse aqueduct was put into service. Today, this port boasts several mooring rings, sanitary facilities and car parks. It is one of the busiest marinas on the Canal du Midi.

It is just next to the Port La Nouvelle branch that provides a link to the Mediterranean by boat or by bike via the Canal de Jonction and the Canal de la Robine

Pont-canal de la Cesse à Mirepeisset dans l'Aude, canal du Midi

Pont-canal sur la Cesse à Mirepeisset © ibgfolio, ADT Aude