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The bike path is unpaved and very bumpy up to Le Somail. You could also decide to take the D124 up to St. Nazaire-d'Aude, and from there take the D207 to Le Somail.
Continue cycling along the south bank of the Canal Du Midi. At the Canal Junction make sure to continue straight. Use small narrow bridge to cross over Canal de la Jonction to reach Argeliers.
Following the Canal de la Jonction will take you to Narbonne.
Pont Canal de Cesse. Originally, the canal crossed the Cesse river at level. Pierre-Paul Riquet, the first architect of the canal, had placed a curved roadway 205 m long and 9.10 m high across the Cesse to raise the water level and make the crossing possible. This system of crossing proved problematical in period of flood. Vauban recommends that an aqueduc be placed here during his inspection tour of the Canal du Midi. The aquaduc, or Pont Canal in French, was constructed between 1689 and 1690. The aqueduc has three arches, the middle one 18.3 m and the two side arches 14.6 m each. The upstream facade, damaged by the violent floods of the Cesse, had to be completely reworked. The downstream facade has not changed since the seventeenth century. The total lenght today is 64 meters, and the total height is 14 meters.
Epanchoir de Patiasses, Km 168. Here 6 large valves have been constructed to siphon off water from the Canal Du Midi when needed, for example after heavy rains. The water is siphoned off in a controlled fashion with this structure, to prevent uncontrolled flooding downstream, which would cause great damage to dikes and lowlands alike. The excess water flows into the Cesse River.
Canal De La Jonction, 1780. The canal is entirely located in the town of Sallèles-d'Aude. It is 5 km long, its layout is completely rectilinear and it includes 7 locks (now automated) for a difference in elevation of more than 23 meters. It allows to join the Canal du Midi to the Aude, then to the Canal de la Robine, and is the link between the Canal du Midi and Narbonne, then Port-la-Nouvelle and the Mediterranean.
Paraza has a beautiful wine chateau where you could spend the night. Wine tasting is available there as well. http://www.chateau-de-paraza.com/
Paraza is also home to the Cafe du Port, located at marker 436 right along the Canal Du Midi. Open from April to end of October, and lunch can be enjoyed here from Tuesday to Friday. Dinner is also available from Tuesday to Saturday. Check their website for up to date hours and info: http://www.cafeduport.com/
In Ventenac-en-Minervois you should take a few moments to visit the oldest boat on the Canal Du Midi, the Marie-Therese. It dates from 1855 and was used to transport merchandise from Bordeaux to Sete. Now it belongs to the Cave Cooperative of Ventenac and serves as a museum.
The Chateau in Ventenac (1789) has a small but interesting museum that you should not miss. You can taste wine there. Open from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 16:00 to 18:00, closed on sunday and holidays.
Le Somail is the same age as the Canal Du Midi. It was build by Paul Riquet to serve as an overnight rest stop for the mail boat passengers.
On this site there are many buildings dating from the creation of the canal:
- The Chapel, built between 1672 and 1693 and enlarged in 1842. The chapel was just large enough for the 180 inhabitants of Le Somail and the people on the mail boat. A mass was said at the arrival and departure of each mail boat. At present, a mass is celebrated every Friday.
- The stone bridge, built before 1683,
- The inn, built in 1684 which served as a "couchee" or hotel for the mail boat travelers
- An old icehouse that was used for winter storage and to keep large blocks of ice until summer. The ice blocks came from the black mountains in winter and were isolated with straw and buried in the ground. The cooler was used by the inns of the Canal as a "refrigerator". Today, it is the only remaining icehouse left on the canal.
Ginestas: Thursday morning from 8AM to 1PM, on the promenade.
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