There are close to 190 people (lock keepers, maintenance staff, technicians, engineers, administrative staff, etc.) working on the Canal du Midi for the VNF south west France branch. Around a hundred seasonal workers are added to the team during the peak season.
These teams ensure that the Canal du Midi is operating correctly, taking care of its use, its connection to the surrounding area, as well as the preservation and development of this world heritage site.
VNF uses, maintains and improves the Canal du Midi, making sure that its historic value and natural environment are respected. The organisation manages the hydraulics of this structure by combining diverse uses of water as a resource (navigation, irrigation, drinking water, etc.).
Did you know?
VNF follows the administrative system that was introduced by Pierre-Paul Riquet, in that each area has its own separate teams reporting to centralised management.
VNF is also responsible for the management of the Canal du Midi brand and the present website, in partnership with the members of the 'Entente pour le Canal du Midi'.
The organisation responsible for management also has a role to play in the development of the regions along the canal route, together with the local authorities, and takes care of the coordination of these initiatives.
This organisation also carries out awareness campaigns for the exceptional structure. VNF implements a number of outreach programmes for the Canal du Midi that are either entirely or partly funded by the French State, local authorities, water boards, and benefactors.
Inter-municipal associations take care of the development and enhancement of certain sites.
This work is done in partnership with VNF and can also benefit from the support of the State, the Occitanie region, the department in question and sometimes even the EU.
The Grand Parc Canal de Toulouse Métropole project for example involves large-scale landscaping developments to restore nature to the banks of the canal, where urban traffic has taken over for far too long. Examples of successful projects include the restoration work carried out by Grand Narbonne in the hamlet of Le Somail, an iconic stopover for the 'barque de poste', and the development work done on Fonseranes locks by the Béziers Méditerranée local council.
The departments and some inter-connected communities are working on the development of the V80 cycle route, the 'Canal des 2 Mers by bike'.
The regions, departments, inter-connected communities and town councils all have a key role to play in territorial development and in developing tourism on the Canal du Midi. They work for the protection, preservation and enhancement of this world heritage site.
The Occitanie region, the French departments of Aude, Haute-Garonne, Hérault and Tarn.
The 16 inter-municipal areas on the canal route:
- Toulouse Métropole
- Urban communities: SICOVAL, Carcassonne Agglo, Béziers Méditerranée, Hérault Méditerranée and Sète Agglopôle Méditerranée, Grand Narbonne
- Communities of municipalities: Terres du Lauragais, Castelnaudary-Lauragais-Audois, Piège-Lauragais-Malepère, Lauragais-Revel-Sorèzois, Montagne Noire, Région Lézignanaise-Corbières-Minervois, Minervois Saint-Ponais Orb-Jaur, Sud Hérault, La Domitienne.
- The 89 towns and villages on the route
VNF entrusts the management of the ports to third parties via concession contracts.
The concessionaries for the Canal du Midi today are mainly local authorities. Concession contracts can also be signed with private entities. Transferring management of the ports involves a call for tender.
The French State is the owner of the Canal du Midi. It then entrusted management of the canal to Voies Navigables de France by law.
The State is also the signatory of the world heritage convention. As such, it is responsible for the preservation of French UNESCO assets on an international scale.
The Canal du Midi is a protected structure as its various sites are classified and it boasts a number of historic monuments. The French State ensures the regulations related to this protection are respected.
The Prefect of the Occitanie region coordinates UNESCO policy in partnership with canal management and other members of the Entente pour le Canal du Midi.
Entente pour le Canal du Midi is comprised of the French State, Voies Navigables de France, the Occitanie region and the four departments on the canal route. Together, the members of this body aim to get the most out of the Canal du Midi, and showcase its worth.
The Site Committee comprises all those involved in managing the Canal du Midi entity (State, VNF, local authorities and socio-professional representatives). This committee acts as the parliament for the canal, and this is where large-scale policies for the Canal du Midi are discussed and developed!
The Strategic Committee comprises members of the Entente and the 16 inter-connected communities and association for the towns and villages of the Canal de Deux Mers. This is where any big decisions are made!