“Down time,” an ideal period for “dry” canal du Midi operations

Canal du Midi structural maintenance and restoration are two of the VNF’s most important missions. From November 2 to December 24, 2021, the canal du Midi undergoes a period of “down time,” ideal for carrying out work that cannot be done when the canal is in use while limiting the impact on economic activities and navigation.

Traditional maintenance work

The Voies navigables de France teams carry out work on the canal du Midi all year long. However, some work can be done only when the reaches are emptied, such as lock gate repair and modernization, and sealing and masonry work. VNF also makes the most of the reaches being empty (a reach is the area of a canal between two locks) to remove objects that have been thrown in.

 

Close attention to banks

This “down time” is also used to renovate any damaged banks; although necessary, cutting down plane trees because of canker stain gradually erodes the centenary roots, essential for maintaining banks. The aim this winter is to restore 8 miles of banks. Thirty miles of banks will then have been rebuilt in total as part of this project undertaken to restore the canal du Midi’s green canopy. Nine sites will be renovated between Toulouse and Marseillan, in Haute-Garonne, in Aude and in Hérault.

 

Choosing the right technique for the reach

Different techniques are used depending on the area, and depending on how many people use the site, on whether there are stationary boats and on the type of bank. The main technique used consists in driving oak or chestnut piles into the ground to which wooden boards are attached vertically.

 

The VNF teams also use “plant engineering” techniques whenever possible, including reprofiling of slopes combined with helophyte plantations (plants that grow in the water: iris, rush, sedge, etc.).

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