Tips for travelling along the canal du Midi

  • On this page, you will find the necessary information for your travel on the canal du Midi, on boat or by bicycle! An interactive map (in french) will provide you every information about itineraries, monuments to visit and the numerous services avaible to you as a traveller for this trip. 





Voir en plein écran


Before taking the helm, any good sailor should keep in mind the necessary information about the waterway, its functioning and its rules . You will also find at the end of this article a lexicon to become a real sailor! 

Built during the XVIIe century by the engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet, the canal du Midi is an emblematic place of the Languedoc heritage and a place of leisures and discoveries. UNESCO has declared it part of the common heritage of mankind in 1998. 

The canal du Midi is ringed by countless engineer structures, such as:

  • 64 locks
  • 55 aqueducts
  • 26 bridges
  • 7 canal-bridges
  • 6 dams
  • 1 tunnel



On the canal du Midi, you will navigate at the locks pace. It is often assumed that Léonard de Vinci invented the lock's system however he only improved its functionning and Pierre-Paul Riquet improved its use. 

Definition: a short section of a canal or river with gates and sluices at each end which can be opened or closed to change the water level, used for raising and lowering boats.


There are many types of locks: singles, doubles (locks of Fresquel), triples (like in Trèbes), nay a flight of staircase locks like the 9 locks of Béziers-Fonserannes. 

Locks can be manual, in lock keeper's presence, or automated.


You will find here a comic strip to illustrate how to pass a lock


Passing locks will be magic moments of your trip. For more information about canal du Midi's locks, you can go on




Timetables for navigation 

For every question marks about periods of navigation and maintenance, rendez-vous on


Rules of navigation 

For every information concerning rules of navigation, you can go to the official website of VNF South-West where you will find all the elements about the regulation of navigation in the canal du Midi ( 


Renting a boat or a cruise-ship 

Our interactive map hereinabove includes the addresses of certain boat rental companies. Otherwise, you can can go here  or on l'Officiel du canal du Midi where you will find exhaustive lists of boat rental companies or cruise-ships on the canal du Midi. 


More informations...

You can consult "l'essentiel du plaisancier" available here



The canal du Midi's banks offer an area of leisures and discoveries, on foot or by bicycle. Before embarking on an adventure into the coming days, here are some fundamental information because towpaths and bicycle paths can cross each other. 





At the beginning, boats were tracted by human strenght or by horse and carriage (horses pulled boats). This procedure was executed on a clear path, a path that goes along the side of a river or canal: "the towpath"




Towpaths are nowadays used by VNF as services areas useful to take care of the waterway. They also constitute a key storage of biodiversity on the canal du Midi, with many animal species. Cyclists can employ towpaths, but the traffic lane is supervised by VNF and you need an authorisation to ride. 


Before asking VNF for an authorisation, please consult rules about towpaths's users on, following wich you have to adress your request by e.mail to You must specify: 

      • the sector in question 
      • the period in question 
      • names and surnames of all the cyclists 


The cylists ride at their own risks. In case of an accident on a towpath, you can however supply the authorisation of VNF as a proof for your insurance company. 

Bicycle lanes 

The bicycle lanes are provided at the edge of the canal du Midi for eco-friendly transports (pedestrians, bicycles, skates/blades... ).

On that type of road, you don't need any authorisation from VNF because the bicycle lanes are handled by the departement. They constitue a environnment more conducive to bicycling than towpaths.

You will find the entire network of bicycle lanes on the interactive map proposed by that website



In order to guarantee the security of each and everyone and the protection of the biodiversity, you shall respect plenty of civic rules on shared spaces: 

  • Motorized vehicles are forbidden on the canal banks without an authorisation of VNF 
  • Horseback riding is harshly forbidden : horses' hooves weaken the canal banks 
  • Exploitation and maintenance of towpaths can justify yards during the year. You will find the timetables of yards on the official VNF South-West website. 
  • We recommend a slow running on towpaths because they can sometimes be in a poor condition. At all times BEWARE when you are riding among the canal. 
  • Riding on windy days is not recommended because fallen branches can be expected 
  • Diseased trees are painted on the trunk, with one or two green strokes, or with two or three red rounds. Don't stay under painted trees. Don't carve or fix anything on trees.



Throughout your trip, you will notice a plenty of marked planes with paint.

These planes trees are touched by a microscopic fungus which attacks them exclusively, named "colored canker" and wich condemns them to death.  

Diseased trees dry quickly and dropped thier leaves. Until now, INRA (National Institute of Agricultural Research) has conclude that the disease could'nt be tackled either chemically or biologically. A centenarian plane tree can die in 6 months.



Today, VNF is lauching a campain to save the canal du Midi throught a massive project of planting new trees. Support us so that we can achieve our aim of beating the colored canker. For more informations or to donate ,click over here


For more informations about itineraries and services avaible to you as a cyclist (rental bike companies, restaurants...), you can go on that dedicated website

I support the project and I remain informed

Subscribe now to the newsletter of Canal du Midi to stay informed first !

  • last news of the Canal save program
  • invitations to magic events of the Canal
  • contest-game with a lot of prizes to win

See the last newsletter

My e-mail address will not be sold or exchanged. I can unsubscribe at any time.