Visiting Historical Béziers & the 9 Locks of Fonseranes
Image: France Voyage
The UNESCO World Heritage listed Canal du Midi is a wonder of construction in its own right, stretching 240km from Toulouse to the Mediterranean, it was considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the 17th century. Constructed between 1661-1681, it is the oldest working canal still in operation in Europe.
There were huge challenges faced throughout the design & construction of the Canal – many of our guests will have visited Lac St. Ferreol, just outside of Revel, which was used to both harness & distribute water from the Montagne Noire to the highest point of the Canal.
A further major challenge was the change in elevation along its length, most pronounced with the 21.5 metre elevation bridged by the nine locks of Fonseranes. Stretching 312 metres, these series of adjoining locks were one of the final stages of completing the Canal and two years from 1678 to complete.
Today, you can visit the locks throughout the year and it’s completely free. There are specific opening times/prices for the visitor centre and restaurant… and the website produced by the Tourisme Office in Béziers is very informative.. Located a short distance from the city itself, you can reach the locks on foot, cycle or by using public transport.
For guests staying at La Villa, a day trip to the city of Béziers, strolling along the beautiful tree-lined boulevard Allées Paul Ricquet (named after the engineer of the Canal du Midi) and visiting the wonderful cathedral before a lunch and visit to the locks is a must. Ask us for directions and further information during your stay.
(For those guests flying into nearby Béziers Cap d’Agde airport, if your flight times allow, a visit to Béziers & the locks would be the perfect start or end to your time in SW France).