Tag Archives: Paul Riquet

Postcard From France – The Canal du Midi

The idea of creating a waterway as a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea had captured the imagination of successive French Kings and governments since Roman times. The regional route overland was slow, uncomfortable and haunted by bandits; the two thousand mile passage by sea took at least a month and was also dangerous as ships negotiating the Spanish coast dodged storms and Barbary pirates to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic

Canal du Midi, Languedoc, France

The trees have been a feature of the eastern half of the canal from Toulouse to Sète since they were first planted in the 1830s and today, as we walked along the towpath, all around us they swayed gently in the breeze as though in a collective trance.  Their triple purpose was to strengthen the banks, reduce water evaporation by the strong Midi sun and shade the canal boats, which originally transported delicate products like wine and fabrics.  But in 2005 disaster struck and for the past six years a fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.

Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected.

We counted ourselves lucky to have seen these magnificent trees at this time because in a couple of years or so they may well be gone.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Autumn and the Canal du Midi

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”                                    Albert Camus

It wasn’t too busy today with just a few visitors and a handful of barges waiting patiently for the next scheduled operation of the locks.  It was quite interesting but I have to say that if this is the third most visited tourist attraction in Languedoc-Roussillon then the region must be short of visitor attractions and I’m not sure that I believe that claim.  From the top lock there was a glorious view across the river valley towards Beziers but we turned our back on that and continued to walk along the tree lined canal where two-hundred year old Plane trees with decorative mottled bark lean across the water, their heavy foliage forming an impenetrable canopy of heavily dappled olive-green shade.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Canal du Midi, Languedoc, France

The trees have been a feature of the eastern half of the canal from Toulouse to Sète since they were first planted in the 1830s and today, as we walked along the towpath, all around us they swayed gently in the breeze as though in a collective trance.  Their triple purpose was to strengthen the banks, reduce water evaporation by the strong Midi sun and shade the canal boats, which originally transported delicate products like wine and fabrics.  But in 2005 disaster struck and for the past six years a fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.

Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected.

We counted ourselves lucky to have seen these magnificent trees at this time because in a couple of years or so they may well be gone.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Canal du Midi, Languedoc, France

The trees have been a feature of the eastern half of the canal from Toulouse to Sète since they were first planted in the 1830s and today, as we walked along the towpath, all around us they swayed gently in the breeze as though in a collective trance.  Their triple purpose was to strengthen the banks, reduce water evaporation by the strong Midi sun and shade the canal boats, which originally transported delicate products like wine and fabrics.  But in 2005 disaster struck and for the past six years a fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.

Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected.

We counted ourselves lucky to have seen these magnificent trees at this time because in a couple of years or so they may well be gone.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

Trees – Canal du Midi, France

The trees have been a feature of the eastern half of the canal from Toulouse to Sète since they were first planted in the 1830s.  But in 2005 disaster struck and for the past six years a fungus has been attacking the trees, spreading along the waterway and defying all attempts to cure or control it.

Tree specialists have concluded that it is almost certain all the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced because the trees have been struck by an outbreak of a virulent, incurable microscopic fungus which grows and spreads through the roots and is thought to have first reached France with American GIs in the Second-World-War whose sycamore ammunition boxes were infected.  We counted ourselves lucky to have seen these magnificent trees at this time because in a couple of years or so they may well be gone.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

Canal du Midi, France

The idea of creating a waterway as a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea had captured the imagination of successive French Kings and governments since Roman times.  The regional route overland was slow, uncomfortable and haunted by bandits; the three thousand kilometre passage by sea took at least a month and was also dangerous as ships negotiating the Spanish coast dodged storms and Barbary pirates to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar.

Read the full story…

France, The Canal du Midi

“…without doubt the most beautiful and most noble construction of its kind ever undertaken….I would have preferred to have created it, than all that I have done and all that I will do …”  –  Maréchal Vauban

or…                                                                                                                                                   “I am rendered speechless by the unfolding diorama of bosky French perfection”  –  Jeremy Clarkson (BBC motoring journalist and all-round clever dick on travelling by boat on the canal)

Our plan was to stay in Beziers today, partly because it seemed good manners to spend some time there rather than dash off elsewhere and partly because I didn’t relish the prospect of reversing the Citroën out of the garage again.

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France, The Camargue

Arles France

So we sat in the warm sunshine finished our drinks and then returned to the car, left Arles and made our way into the Camargue.

The Camargue is a special place not only in France but in all of Europe and it is another of those places that I have always wanted to see.  It is a triangular area lying on the coast between the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence and is a river delta where the River Rhône meets the sea – a marshy island bounded by two branches of the Rhône and the Mediterranean.

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