Canal de Robine, Ste Lucie, Port-la-Nouvelle - Lydie Lecarpentier, région Occitanie

Canal du Midi's unique landscape heritage!

The landscapes of the Canal du Midi are like looking at a picturesque postcard scene. They are one of the main reasons this exceptional waterway is so renowned.

The Canal du Midi flows through unique and varied landscapes that are not to be missed. The Canal du Midi scenery has even been classified, for the sites by decree of 25 September 2017, and for the Canal du Midi water supply channels by decree of 13 January 2022. The canal as an overall entity has been classified since 4 April 1997. A classified site is entitled to national protection as it is identified as 'iconic for an area'.

The Canal du Midi is a waterway that flows across varied landscapes

Picturesque and varied regions

Crossing the historic regions of Lauragais, Montagne Noire, Minervois and Biterrois, the Canal du Midi is perfectly blended into the landscapes it flows through, thanks to natural integration and also the modifications involved.

The scenery of the Canal du Midi is varied and includes the surface area on the ground, mountainous backdrops, fields as far as the eye can see, wide-open or more intimate spaces, real estate and nature, wooded areas, topography, architecture and atmospheres, etc.

For 340 years, this waterway has been the geographic common denominator for the regions and landscapes it crosses through.

Did you know?

The canal route was designed in accordance with the topography. To limit differences in height and to allow for a fairly slow flow, the Canal du Midi follows the contour lines of the land from one lock to the next. The winding route therefore blends into the regions it crosses through.

From cereal-growing plains…

When they leave the urban area of Toulouse, the waters of the Canal du Midi then flow across the cereal-growing Lauragais plains. Here, wheat is king!

Cereal producers have been working in the region since Antiquity as they have been able to benefit from the Canal du Midi to ship their harvest to towns in the surrounding areas. The canal waters also provide them with a source of energy and they built mills where they could make wheat flour, close to a shipping port.

The Montagne Noire region is a wooded area that is sparsley populated and has not changed much since the 17th century. It is a protected area that is mainly comprised of forests and lush-green meadows. The supply channel makes it possible to cross these wooded areas and admire the beech forest.

Via the vineyards…

After crossing Castelnaudary and Carcassonne, the canal heads towards the foothills of the Corbières and Minervois. There, the scenery is dominated by vineyards.

In this section of the canal, it isn't surprising that wine became the main product to be shipped on the boats! Just like the cereal growers in the Lauragais, the construction of the Canal du Midi also provided winegrowers with some great opportunities for trade. The number of winegrowers here increased steadily up until the phylloxera outbreak in the late 19th century.

Did you know?

Before the construction of the Canal du Midi, the region was dependent upon the river Aude for irrigation of the surrounding fields. When the canal was officially put into operation, this did not change immediately, but in the 19th century, the share of the water from the canal in the irrigation system played a key role in the development of vast farming estates.

To the Mediterranean Sea!

In Argens-Minervois, there is a Mediterranean atmosphere along the banks of the Canal du Midi, in the shade of pine and cypress trees. 
Here again, vineyards dominate the landscape and there are winegrowing estates known as 'pinardières' with Ile-de-France style architecture dotted across the region.

Finally, travellers will cross the lagoons after Narbonne up to Port La Nouvelle, through a semi-maritime atmosphere dominated by water, birds and the wind.

The landscapes of the Canal du Midi are included in the UNESCO classification

When the canal was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the following was specified: "along with technological innovation, the Canal du Midi has also created beauty, both in its architectural creations as in the landscapes generated. This approach is a rare find". 

The classification of the Canal du Midi as a UNESCO World Heritage Site means that France is under the obligation to maintain the features and identity of the landscapes. This is absolutely necessary if we are to pass this on to future generations. However, this classification does not mean that the regions cannot evolve, just that the overall appearance and condition of the sites must not be modified.