For 15 years, starting in 1667, nearly 12,000 workers worked on the construction of the Canal du Midi. Using shovels and pickaxes, men and women between 20 and 50 years of age, dug a 150-mile network of navigable waterways linking the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
Thomas Jefferson came to take a look at the canal, designed by Pierre-Paul Riquet, in 1789 while serving as the U.S. ambassador to France. The future president envisioned a similar canal connecting the Potomac River with Lake Erie.
The Canal du Midi starts in Toulouse and flows through 328 structures, locks, aqueducts, bridges, tunnels, etc. One of the most remarkable feats of civil engineering in modern times, it paved the way for the Industrial Revolution in France.
Originally constructed to facilitate trade, the Canal du Midi now transports tourists and recreational boaters.
John and I certainly enjoyed our leisurely hour-and-a-half trip along this UNESCO World Heritage site.
It was a nice, relaxing rest after walking a couple of hours around Toulouse this morning to visit a few of the city’s green areas.
We passed the Monument aux Morts, a WWI memorial, before entering the tree-lined promenade on the Allées Francois Verdier.
The green promenade led to the Grand Rond, a lovely little park in the middle of a large pedestrian roundabout.
From there, it was a short walk across the street to the Jardin des Plantes, a rather large park complete with a small, man-made circular creek inhabited by turtles and ducks — and amorous statues.
The wonderful thing about Toulouse is that it’s flat and almost all the historical sites, museums, parks, etc. are within walking distance. We haven’t set foot on the metro, tram or bus.
As my husband pointed out while we were canal tripping, “If you come to France and don’t make it to Toulouse, you lose.”
I am inclined to agree.