Bed and breakfast by the Canal du Midi in the South of France
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The Canal du Midi

Ventenac en Minervois is on the Canal du Midi, one of the greatest engineering projects of the 17th century. Built between 1666 and 1681, the Canal was the brainchild of a local tax-farmer, Pierre-Paul Riquet, who knew the region well. He sank his fortune into the project, but sadly Riquet died the year before the Canal was opened: his family inherited the Canal, but also the debts, which took over a century to repay.

The Canal runs for 240km from Toulouse to the Mediterranean at Sète. In Toulouse, the Canal meets the River Garonne, providing access to the Atlantic at Bordeaux, and forming a system known as the Canal des Deux Mers – Canal of the Two Seas. The Autoroute which links Bordeaux with Narbonne is known as the Autoroute des Deux Mers.

By eliminating the need for a long and dangerous sea-crossing round Spain and Portugal, the Canal du Midi became an important trade route right through to the middle of the 20th century. There is a very small amount of commercial traffic on the Canal, but it is mainly used by pleasure boats during the season, which lasts from April to October – it’s closed during the winter months.

The Canal has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The tree-lined tow-path is great for walking or cycling along. It’s possible to hire boats by the hour, day or half-day at the village of Le Somail, which is about 4km from Les Cordelines.

Bikes can be hired in the village of Paraza, which is 2km from Les Cordelines. Halfway between Ventenac and Paraza is the Pont-Canal de Répudre, the first aqueduct built on the Canal du Midi. There’s a charming walk from the centre of the village along to the Canal.

bed and breakfast on the Canal du Midi

Bed and breakfast on the Canal du Midi