Connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea: this project seemed crazy at the time, but Paul Riquet took up the challenge and created a true masterpiece that is now more than 350 years old, the Canal du Midi. Béziers, a historic city, but above all the birthplace of Paul Riquet - who was very attached to the area where the Canal goes through - hides real treasures, including two extraordinary structures of the Canal du Midi. When you rent a houseboat on the Canal du Midi, we recommend you to stop in the historic centre of Béziers. With family or friends, this houseboat cruise will allow you to discover pleasant spots along the Canal du Midi, the most famous canal in France and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Béziers, cradle of the Canal du Midi
In Béziers there are several important structures of the Canal du Midi. In fact, during your houseboat cruise you can admire:
- Fonsérannes locks: Fonsérannes locks, also known as "the nine locks", are the most spectacular structure of the Canal du Midi and are one of the most beautiful locks of the Canal du Midi. Classified as a historical monument since 1996, the site welcomes thousands of visitors every year. This civil engineering structure makes it possible to cross an altitude difference of 21.50 metres over a length of 312 metres. Fonsérannes locks are an important structure on Canal du Midi where you can enjoy the unique experience of the passage of the staircase of the lock and the panoramic view of the city of Béziers.
- The bridge over the Béziers Canal: built in 1856, the bridge over the Béziers Canal is by far the most beautiful of the 19th century stone bridges over the Canal. It allows you to cross the Orb river without being subject to the risks of the river, such as flooding in winter or very shallow water in summer. Your houseboat will glide over this 198m 12m high bridge - an adventure you won't forget!
- Malpas tunnel: it was dug under the hill of Ensérune in three months and secretly against Colbert's advice, this 173-metre-long tunnel is the first tunnel to be dug for a canal. A real technical feat, a unique work of art on the Canal du Midi. According to an anecdote, the name Malpas, which means "bad step" or "wrong passage", derives from the difficulty of digging because the tunnel crosses a hill that cannot be ignored and is responsible for the bad reputation of that tunnel.
Discover the historic centre of Béziers
One of the many pleasures of river navigation is to be able to stop wherever you want, especially in ports and water sports facilities. Enjoy picnic breaks, swimming or discovering the picturesque villages through which the canal passes. We invite you to discover the city of Béziers and its exceptional geographical position between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of Haut Languedoc. If you are passionate about history, the city of Béziers will not disappoint you. We recommend that you stroll through its streets and experience the unique atmosphere. Among the must-see attractions of the city, you will find:
- Saint-Nazaire Cathedral: built in the 10th century and a symbol of the city, Saint-Nazaire Cathedral is a Gothic building that you can see from Narbonne. Don't miss a visit to this magnificent monument, which majestically dominates the Orb plain.
- The Béziers Arena, also known as the Valras Plateau Arena: built in 1897, the arena is home to numerous events and has 13,500 seats.
- Les Halles de Béziers: When you visit Béziers, don't miss a visit to the Halles, a market opened in 1891. Take advantage of it to taste the local products you can find in the market.
Boat rental in Béziers and more specifically on the Canal du Midi will astonish you. When sailing along the Canal du Midi, discover the exceptional structures of the canal that passes through the fascinating city of Béziers and don't forget to stop and stroll through the narrow streets of the historic centre.