Neuf Ecluses de Fonserannes

Nine Locks of Beziers Canal Du Midi

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Ecluses de Fonserannes Lock Canal Du Midi panel panneau

 

Les Neuf Ecluses de Fonserannes

The Nine Locks of Beziers on the Canal Du Midi

(esclusa sluseport sluis Schleuse sluse chiuse sluss)

 

PK (Point Kilométrique): 206.515

Year of Construction: 1676-1680

Type of lock: Octuple

 

Lock keeper presence: yes

Water drop (meters): 13.6 (in its present day configuration)

Bike path side: north

 

The Nine Locks of Beziers are the absolute top masterpiece of the Canal Du Midi.  It is the third most visited site in the province of Occitanie, right after the Pont Du Gard and Carcassonne.  Some claim that Paul Riquet put his masterpiece here because he was born in Beziers.

 

Situated 54 Km downstream from the Argens Lock, the Fonserannes Locks suddenly make the canal drop 13.6 meters to allow boats to cross the Orb River and its aqueduct.  Before this aqueduct was constructed in 1857, all nine locks were in use and boats had to join the waters of the Orb River itself before re-joining the Canal Du Midi a few hundred meters downstream again.  At that time the total drop of the locks was 21.5 meters over a length of 315 meters!

 

The Fonserannes Locks served as the lunch stop on the fourth day for the ancient mail boat and its passengers.  The passengers would eat here while the boat's cargo was moved by hand to another mail boat at the bottom of the nine locks.  Similarly, passengers and cargo from the boat at the bottom would move up to the boat at the top of the locks.  This was done in order to speed things up a bit.  At the end of the fourth day, the boat would reach Agde.  Thus it took only four days for the horse-pulled mail boat to go from Toulouse to Agde!  Note that there would be 8 horses pulling this boat, and they would be going at a trot...not walking!  The horses would be switched out often as well during the day, in order to maintain speed.  A chapel exists here as well, for the mail boat passengers.  It is situated at the top of the nine locks.

 

As I have seen at some other sites along the Canal Du Midi (Ecluse de Gailhousty), there seems to be several ways to spell the same word.  Old maps show "Fonceranes" or "Foncerane."  Modern maps show either "Fonseranes" or "Foncerannes."  On this page, I have chosen "Fonserannes" as that is what the panel on the lock keeper's building says!  But probably even better would simply to say "the nine locks of Beziers."

 

The area around the nine locks of Beziers got refurbished in 2016.  A restaurant is situated at the top of the locks that offers a nice panoramic view of Beziers.  The tourist office is also located here and it has a small movie theatre were you can learn about the Canal Du Midi.  Toilets are located at both ends of the locks.  You can rent small electric boats here as well, but you cannot enter the locks with those (too dangerous for such small boats).

 

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Ecluses de Fonserannes Lock Canal Du Midi panel panneau

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Ecluses de Fonserannes Lock Canal Du Midi panel panneau