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Leonardo's Miter Gate
Languedoc Canal
Caledonian Canal
Panama Canal Zone

The Languedoc Canal

Civil Engineering on a Grand Scale

Centuries of Civil Engineering

Andréossy, Antonia François, comte (1761-1828)
Histoire du Canal du Midi, ou Canal de Languedoc. Nouvelle éd.
Paris: Impr. de Crapelet, 1804.
Water Supply
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The grand scale of the Languedoc Canal is thought to have appealed to Louis XIV, who seemed to prefer that all projects associated with his reign have a quality of grandeur. A proposal for the canal dates to at least 1516, when Leonardo da Vinci accompanied the French King Francis I home from Milan and discussed a method for building a canal across southern France, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. But it was not built until the reign of the Sun King, who opened the canal in 1681 after fourteen years of construction. Serious consideration of the canal was possible only after a practical scheme for supplying water to the summit was worked out in 1661 by Pierre-Paul Riquet (1604-1680) with the assistance of François Andreossy (1633-1688). Even now, building it seems a fantastic undertaking. It crosses rivers, passes through tunnels, uses three major aqueducts, is 620 feet above the Mediterranean at its highest point, includes over 100 locks, crosses over countless streams that are routed underneath through culverts, and flows beneath numerous road bridges constructed across it. In time the name was changed to the Canal du Midi – a prototype for later canals, and one that is still in use.


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