The Locality Page 1
The Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi runs for 240 kilometres from Toulouse to Sète via Carcassonne, Homp, Le Somail, Pouilles, Capestang, Colombiers, Béziers and Agde to name only a few of the picturesque towns and villages on it's way.
It was started by in 1666 by Paul Ricquet, effectively the Lord in Béziers, who was the first person to work out how enough water could be provided to keep a canal working that would be the start of a link between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic via the River Garonne in the West - allowing direct transportation of goods across France rather than having to take the long route around Spain.
Some 12,000 men worked for 14 years to build the Canal, it's feeders, it's locks, it's bridges, it's tunnel, it's tree lined paths and it's aqueducts.
But Paul Ricquet didn't live to see it completed - he died six months early, bankrupt and penniless. It was such a financial success, however, that the rights to the canal were eventually given back to his heirs before being given back to the Country and posterity.
As the age of the canals for large scale movement of goods passed, the Canal fell into disrepair but over the last 30 years tourism has given it a new lease of life and a great deal of money has been spent to make a trip down the Canal an experience not to be missed!
The stretch of the canal that finishes at Beziers is 33 miles long without a lock, but it makes up for that by having 8 locks in a row at Ecluse de Fonséranes immediately before the canal crosses the river Orb on a canal bridge.
It is the Canal, however that helps make Colombiers special with a mix of boats, either static when the Canal is officially closed or almost permanently on the move as soon as the season starts.
The bridge is photogenic - (even in February!) and looks over to the regularly used Boules pitch.
The walks are shaded and particularly pleasant as the weather heats up!
Colombiers houses the 'new Port' where people can hire canal boats and stop for provisions and eat!
The Port also houses an 'Amphitheatre' where shared musical/theatrical/shows etc regularly take place throughout the year although the bulk of the shows obviously take place in the busier times. The workload of shows is shared with Nissan. Three of the local restaurants are based around the Port (See Eating Out Page).
Out of season the moorings in the Newport mostly hold the boats for hire (there is an office where you can hire boats if you wish) but in season, the extra space means visiting boats can moor there to make easier use of the facilities.
Boats also moor up alongside the canal generally and some of these are permanent houseboats.
During (roughly) November to February the canal is officially closed and boat movement is not allowed. Portions of the canal may be drained for cleaning.
It is worth knowing that the French call the central part of Languedoc Rousillon the 'Midi' rather than the central part of France we British tend to think of as the Midi.
The Canal du Midi is now a World Heritage Site.
Colombiers - Old Village
The old village is a pretty network of old streets nestling in a curve in the Canal du Midi and encompasses the Mairie, The Church, Domaine Monlou (the Cave), Local shops, parts of the canal and the bridge before extending out into the Newport, the Cave du Duc de Castres, the Tourist Information Office, The Surgery and some more local shops.
The Caves du Duc de Castres, the Tourist Information Office and the nearby old winepress
Going North West of the Newport there is the large, nationally renowned Clinic and a large area of newer building/villas etc. off the road to Beziers (you probably drove down through this area when you first arrived in Colombiers).
Going South East takes you to the road out to the Malpas Tunnel, the ‘Maison de Malpas resource centre and the Oppidum d’enserune while crossing the canal bridge takes you out past the railway station and on to Montardy and Capestang.
Leaving Colombiers going East takes you towards Nissan and the N9.
Clinic Walkway detail
Colombiers is worth a closer look!