Muscat Daily - - BREAK -

The Strait of Gi­bral­tar be­tween Europe and Africa isn’t the only wa­ter­way that con­nects the At­lantic Ocean to the Mediter­ranean Sea. A thou­sand kilo­me­tre north lies an­other con­nect­ing route.

This route con­nects the French city of Bordeaux, near the At­lantic ocean, to the Mediter­ranean port of Sète through a se­ries of canals col­lec­tively called Canal des Deux Mers, or the ‘canal of the two seas’. Ly­ing en­tirely in South­ern France, this man-made canal is one of the most re­mark­able feats of civil en­gi­neer­ing in the 17th cen­tury.

Canal des Deux Mers con­sists of two canals. From the Mediter­ranean port of Sète to Toulouse, a dis­tance of 240km, runs Canal du Midi. From Toulouse to the town of Castets-en-Dorthe, 193km away, the canal is called Canal de Garonne. The re­main- der of the route to Bordeaux uses the Garonne River. The two canals, Canal du Midi and Canal de Garonne, to­gether with the Garonne River form the Canal des Deux Mers, which con­nects the Mediter­ranean Sea to the At­lantic Ocean. Of­ten, the en­tire canal is called Canal du Midi.

Be­fore the canal was con­structed, the month-long sea voy­age through the Straits of Gi­bral­tar was fraught with dan­gers, mostly from pi­rates and in­tense storms the strait was sub­jected to be­cause of its shape and phys­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy.

Build­ing an al­ter­na­tive route through France was first dis­cussed by the an­cient Ro­mans. Later, many French kings ex­pressed in­ter­est in con­struct­ing a canal which could avoid the pas­sage around Spain. In the 17th cen­tury, the first re­al­is­tic project for the canal was drafted.

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