AN ANCIENT HIGHWAY
The idea of building a canal to link the Mediterranean and Atlantic had been debated by many rulers down the ages, but it was not until the 17th century that its construction was undertaken. Between 1666 and 1681, engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet employed a workforce of 12 000 to complete the 241km canal. This incredible engineering feat included the building of 91 locks spread across 65 locations. During its peak in the mid-19th century, the canal carried more than 100 000 tons of cargo and a million passengers a year. The Canal du Midi is one of the world’s oldest commercial waterways and has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.