Canal du Midi à Carcassonne

The port of Carcassonne
in the centre of Carcassonne since 1810

The Canal du Midi has not always crossed through Carcassonne. The initial route passed 5 km north of the town. The current location of the port of Carcassonne dates back to 1810.

The Canal du Midi
was initially 5 km from Carcassonne

When the canal was built, it followed the route of Fresquel valley. According to this route, the town of Carcassonne was 5 km away from the waterway.

Due to the economic significance of this town, Pierre-Paul Riquet decided to consider an alternative route and bring the canal closer to the town. His proposal involved crossing a small hill and so consequential and costly excavation work was required. The consuls of Carcassonne were asked to make a financial contribution, but refused.

In 1673, Riquet therefore built the canal according to the initial route and a port was built for Carcassonne in Foucaud, 5.8 kilometres from the city walls.

When the canal opened to navigation, the handling cost for transporting goods between the canal and the town were high and trade in Carcassonne was penalised as a result for the entire 18th century. Several initiatives were put forward in the 1680s in an attempt to resolve this issue. It wasn't until 1786 that an agreement was signed with the Estates of Languedoc to modify the initial route of the canal.

The Canal du Midi in the centre of Carcassonne 

The new section began at Foucaud spillway, where the canal had been up until then. It then flowed via the Estagnol and Iéna channels and arrived at the new port that had been built, before reaching the downstream course of the canal after Fresquel aqueduct. 

The work began in 1787 but was suspended between 1789 and 1797 due to the French Revolution. In 1798, the construction work finally resumed. The Canal de Carcassonne was inaugurated on 31 May 1810 after construction of Fresquel aqueduct. 

The 'new' port of Carcassonne

The port of Carcassonne was created between 1800 and 1810, at the same time as the Canal du Midi alternative route via Carcassonne. It replaced Foucaud port that had been built on the outskirts of the town.

This marina is just in front of Carcassonne train station and is still a key port along the Canal du Midi. There is a harbourmaster's office here offering all the necessary services for recreational boaters who choose to stop in Carcassonne.

There is also a branch of VNF administration in one of the buildings that was built on the docks in the 1830s-1840s.