A historic place of passage

Located in the Languedoc plain, the Grand Site "Canal du Midi, Béziers" is a magnificent territory dotted with small hills, often inhabited, called "puechs". The Grand Site is located halfway between the Montagne Noire, the foothills of the Massif Central, and the Mediterranean coast, less than 15 km away.

This Languedoc plain is in fact the only "practical" route between the Massif Central and the sea. And the "puechs", which temporarily surround the ponds, have enabled people to settle here.

It is this particular topography that has led this plain to be, for thousands of years, a privileged place of passage. It has always been favored by the movement of people and goods which traveled by the Orb river near Béziers, by the Domitian Way - the oldest Roman road and one of the best preserved in Gaul - or more recently by the Canal du Noon, fabulous and brilliant work from the XNUMXth century.


Béziers - The locks - Aerial view from 1956 (Sicard)

The omnipresent vineyard

This land is one of the oldest wine regions in France.

Introduced by the Greeks in the fifth century BC, the vines took off here under the Roman Empire. The industry then boomed thanks to the construction of the Canal du Midi, then the railway, which will in turn allowed the distribution of Languedoc wines to a wider audience.

Unfortunately, in 1868 the Phylloxera crisis stopped this growth immediately... The insect destroyed almost all the vineyards of Languedoc and forced the winegrowers to use new plants from another continent ... A wave of replanting ensued. Quantity was preferred, sometimes to the detriment of quality ...

But this reality is now a thing of the past, and the Languedoc vineyards have since regained their acclaim! The major changes in the twentieth century and the appearance of official "Appellations" managed to restore the authenticity of Languedoc wines, which also characterise this land and the landscape that the vineyard elegantly shapes.

Admire how these vineyards are transformed throughout the seasons: white flowers that bloom in January between the vines, lining the plains, the deep red of the autumn foliage, and the bright green that announces the harvest time ... Everything here is colorful and the gorgeous lights of this sun-kissed land create variations that make each visit unique!

At the heart of this wine-growing landscape, the few wooded "puechs" (such as Ensérune and Montady) contrast nicely with the surrounding agricultural environment.

Sunset over the Locks of Fonseranes

Water at the heart of all issues

Here, water management has always been a real headache: there's not enough in the "puechs" and oppidum (high fortified habitats), too much in the ponds, too unpredictable in the river flowing through...

Finding and mastering it is still a real challenge today! And the Canal du Midi is no exception: in order to supply it with enough water, we had to come up with some ingenious and make extra special efforts. These last ones paid off and some of the exceptional works found along the Canal du Midi and in the surrounding area, were created, and there are plenty of them in our region!

Starting from Toulouse and flowing into Thau pond in Sète, the Canal has had to adapt to unpredictable water levels, cross the Orb river and get through Malpas hill: bridge, aqueducts, canal bridge and exceptional tunnels were therefore created.

Today listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, the Canal du Midi links the nearby heritage sites together and invites boaters to explore them.

Landscapes shaped by mankind

"To experience" these charming landscapes is also to understand that they are the fruit of many generations of workers and farmers. They constitute the past but also the future of this territory.

The local men have overcome land that was sometimes dry, often discouraging, by raising dry stone walls and building terraces where you can still see olive groves and vineyards today.

The visitor will easily see that the history of these lands rests on a perpetual confrontation between mankind and nature.

Undoubtedly, to explore this land is to travel back in time, to encounter a terribly hostile landscape with which man has managed to ally, to create the very best...

Here, authenticity is not an insignificant word. It is the spirit of the place and the remarkable heritage that make the Grand Site "Canal du Midi, Béziers" a sincere and benevolent country.

Autumn colors in the vineyards and first snow in the Pyrenees