We returned to Le Mans and Florence’s family – then cruised the Canal du Midi and the rivers of South West France.
First – a little history…
Built between 1666 and 1681, by Pierre Paul Riquet, the Canal du Midi was then regarded as one of the wonders of Europe. It had first been conceived by Leonardo da Vinci 150 years earlier, and was undoubtedly the greatest work of engineering in the world at that time.
Nothing on such an ambitious scale had been built by man since the fall of the Roman Empire.
Cutting across southern France from the westward-flowing Garonne at Toulouse to the port of Sete, its purpose was to provide an inland route for shipping between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and thus avoid the long and hazardous sea passage via Gibraltar. One hundred and fifty miles long and climbing by ladders of locks to a height of 600 feet, it was the first summit level canal in the world.
But, before we got to the Canal, we had some very special people to catch up with in Le Mans…