France day 9 – Canal du Midi

Oct 11, 2013 by

Every day we have driven past a series of 3 locks on the Canal du Midi and have resolved to stop and watch the lock operation, which we finally did today.  It was fascinating!  First a word about the Canal du Midi.  It was constructed in the 17th Century during the reign of Louis XIV and was considered one of the greatest construction works of its time.  It stretches 150 miles from the Garonne River in Toulouse to the Mediterranean.  Linking to the Garonne Canal it stretches to the Atlantic, thus effectively connecting the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Path along Canal du Midi

Initially created for commercial use, it is now pleasure boats (mostly barge types) and vacationers who travel on the canal.  An interesting part of the system are the 65 locks that make it possible to traverse the different elevations of the canal.  Patrick (who is back in Toulouse) has never seen a lock and did not understand why and how they worked.  So for his benefit, I am going to take you through barge Winifred’s journey through the locks.

Winifred waiting for the lock man to start the process

Gate between the upper and lower lock

Lower lock where water level will rise to match upper lock water level

Water from upper lock flowing through to lower lock

As water flows from upper lock to lower, Winifred goes down to the level of the lower lock

The water levels equal between the upper and lower locks, the lock man opens the gate.

The gate open, Winifred passes from upper lock to lower lock and is on her way….

So there you go Patrick….how a lock system works!  We then drove to the small village of Homps, which is a canal hub.  We had hoped to sip a glass of wine overlooking the canal, but as we did not arrive there until after 3pm, everything was closed.  We have learned that in these small villages, restaurants do not serve after 2pm.  And since we tend to eat a late breakfast, lunch before 2pm does not work.  So we walked along the canal path and came back to Domaine de Cure.

Boats on the canal in Homps

One thing I have not been able to capture are the vast views of vineyards and farmland with mountains in the background as we drive though this spectacular part of France.  Below is an image of the vineyard at the back of Domaine de Cure, but it really does not do it justice.

One more thing….all the grapes in this region are harvested using special machines.  They are quite high with a space in the middle and at the back it looks like jaws.  The farmers ride them over the vines and the machine harvests the grapes.  Our hosts say the wine is not great which is why the grapes are harvested by machine.  We passed one on the road today and I snapped this shot.

Harvesting grapes

This is our last night at Domaine de Cure.  Tomorrow we fly to Paris and Sunday back to NY.  We have had a wonderful variety of experiences in Languedoc and Spain and Domaine de Cure has been the perfect home base.

Au revoir Domaine de Cure!


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1 Comment

  1. Thank you, Kate, for sharing your vacation via these wonderful photos and comments! I loved reading/seeing them!!!

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