The Fonserannes lock staircase

Published on 29 February 2008
The Fonserannes lock staircase
The Fonserannes lock staircase
(Photo : VNF)

The canal du midi :

  • This canal connects the Rvier Garonne, and therefore the Atlantic, to the Mediterranean.
  • It was built by Pierre-Paul Riquet, the Baron of Bonrepos (1604-1680), and was opened 6 months after his death.
  • It is 240 km long, starting in Toulouse and ending up in the Thau basin.

The Canal du Midi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has 103 locks and one exceptional structure, the Fonserannes lock staircase.:

The lock staircase is located near the city of Béziers and consists of 7 locks (8 basins) and 3 lock chambers which allow boats to negotiate a height distance of 21.5 m over a distance of 300m.
The 9 locks at Fonserannes are without doubt Riquet’s most majestic and impressive structure. This is an architectural masterpiece, and at the time of its construction was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. The lock staircase has a height difference of 21.5 metres.

The passage is a difficult one, but takes only between 20 and 30 minutes. Since 1983, this time has been reduced to 6 minutes by an electrically powered water slope built next to the lock staircase.

The barge travels towards Béziers, over the Orb aqueduct built between 1854 and 1857, which is a suberb structure, and the longest on the canal (240 metres). Its 24 arches were designed to withstand the well-known whims of the river Orb.

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