Walking between the Canal du Midi and Béziers


It was King Louis XIV (1638 – 1715) who wanted to create a canal to link the Mediterranean Sea to Toulouse, and for that, he needed an engineer. This is where Béziers comes into the picture, as the King wanted Pierre-Paul Riquet to supervise the construction of the new canal. This engineer was a true Biterrois- as inhabitants of Béziers are called- born in Béziers in 1609. And in just 15 years, from 1666 to 1681, the Canal du Midi was built. Back to present day, you can do a beautiful walk leading you from the centre of Béziers to the banks of the Canal du Midi and the Orb River.

Pont Vieux

Since we’ve been living in Béziers, one of my favourite walks has been the ‘Entre Canal du Midi et Béziers’ trail. I was surprised to find a marked route in the middle of the town centre. But it’s a great way to get to know Béziers and its surroundings. As usual, I followed the Visorando app, which suggests beginning at the (paid) parking lot of the Neuf Écluses. However, I prefer to start at the new Pont Vieux parking lot, where you can park for free. Also, because walking over the old bridge, dating from the 12th century, is a dignified entrance to the city. The town is doing a lot to improve the city centre. One of the latest additions is a path from the old bridge all the way up to the cathedral. It includes stairs and a footbridge, but there are also three elevators if you prefer.

Entre Canal du Midi et Béziers

Little labyrinthine streets

Once up the hill, you will meet one of Béziers’ landmarks up close. The Saint-Nazaire Cathedral is built on top of a hill and proudly overlooks the River Orb. Although Béziers hasn’t had a bishop since the revolution, formally making the cathedral a church, everybody still calls it so. Either way, you can only enter the cathedral via the side entrance, as the main one stays closed because of the strong Tramontane wind. To follow the Entre Canal du Midi et Béziers trail, you walk into town through little labyrinthine streets of history. The Rue Viennet and the Place du Forum will lead you to the Rue du 4 Septembre and the Place Jean Jaurès. Even here, you will find the yellow signs to direct you along the right path.

Entre Canal du Midi et Béziers

Plateau des Poètes

Coming from the tail end of the Allées Paul Riquet, passing his statue, you will cross the Plateau des Poètes park. No less than 5 hectares have been transformed into a lush city garden with statues of famous French poets dotted around. Béziers-born sculptor Jean-Antoine Injalbert made most of them. He also sculpted the impressive ‘Fontaine du Titan’ representing Atlas and the war memorial. The park links the upper part of town with the station, and from here, you will walk to the Canal du Midi. It’s not the most beautiful part of the route, passing along a busy road and under the railway. But once you arrive at the canal, it gets very pretty again.

Entre Canal du Midi et Béziers

Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi measures 240 kilometres and connects Sète to Toulouse. So, the walk will only lead you along a small part of it. However, you can spot two highlights in this short stretch. After passing the new Tourist Office, created in the former Maison Batelière (Captaincy), you will see a water bridge. This aqueduct crosses the Orb River, and if you’re lucky, you will see a boat passing along it. A bit further to your left are the famous Neuf Écluses of Béziers, an ingenious water staircase of nine locks. From here, the yellow sign will direct you to the Orb River, following the Quai du Port Notre Dame. A little stroll brings you back to your starting point at the Pont Vieux, giving you one of the best views of Béziers.

Entre Canal du Midi et Béziers

TO SEE - Towns
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