Canal Du Midi Aude River Crossing

  • Railway Bridge Crossing
  • Coin test
  • Salleles d'Aude

Canal Du Midi Aude River Crossing

 

The Canal Du Midi flows between Toulouse and Agde.  Following its opening in 1681, the commercial success of the Canal du Midi was such that Narbonne traders demanded improved access to it, so in 1686 the Canal de la Robine was constructed by Vauban as a lockless open cut following an abandoned course of the Aude.  The northern end of the canal is at the Aude at Moussoulens just south of Sallèles-d'Aude from where goods were transported by land to the Canal du Midi at Le Somail — a journey of approximately 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). A century later, when the Canal de Jonction was constructed, the Canal de la Robine was straightened and six single locks were built to deal with the more severe gradients, Narbonne finally had direct waterway access to the Canal du Midi. (wikipedia).

 

For pedestrians and cyclists it is a bit complicated to reach Narbonne.  The Canal Du Midi junction with the Canal De La Jonction is easy, as there is a little old pedestrian bridge there to help you cross to the other side of the canal.  But the problem is where the Canal De La Jonction ends, which is at the Aude River in Salleles d'Aude.  Boats simply join the river and then connect to the Canal de la Robine.  But cyclists that do not wish to swim with their bikes must find another way.  What most people do is to make use of an old abandoned railway bridge to cross the Aude River.

 

aude river bridge location map

 

The orange dot indicates the location of the railway bridge over the Aude River.  For a more detailed map please click here.

 

railway bridge over the aude river canal du midi

 

The railway brige over the Aude River between the Canal Du Midi and Narbonne.

 

This railway was used by a tourist train connecting Narbonne to Bize Minervois.  These tourist trains no longer run though.  They stopped in 2004.

 

tourist train bize minervois crossing the Canal Du Midi

Old postcard showing the tourist train crossing the Canal Du Midi.

 

train today

The train after 2004.  No more tourist trains ran after 2004.

 

To check that indeed no trains are running here, a coin test was carried out over a 2 year period.

 

coin test

Coin placed on track on May 22, 2017.

 

coin

Extra strong tape was used to secure the coin to the tracks.  A total of 3 coins were placed on the north side of the bridge, all secured with the same tape.

 

coin

July 26, 2017.  The coin is still there and not flattened.

 

coin

August 23, 2017.  Coin still there and not flattened.  Put new tape in place.

 

coin

September 28, 2017.  Coin still in place and still not flat.  Tape is still decent.

 

coin

June 9, 2018.  The coin is flat!  Wow!  All three coins are now flat suddenly.

 

So, we can conclude that about once a year a train does come by here.  Most likely in the winter time.  From closer inspection of the bridge and railroad we can conclude that this train must be going very slowly.

 

loose railroad tie

Many of the railroad ties are missing bolts, indicating that trains should go very slowly to avoid derailing.

 

plants on railroad

Plants are tall and grow right next to the rails, indicating that trains are very rare indeed.

 

Talking to some locals it was discovered that the tourist train would actually slow down when crossing this bridge because they knew that cyclists were using it to cross the river.  So the one train a year that might pass here must also be well aware that cyclists use this bridge.

 

The only possible place for a train to be needed is the farine (flower) factory located right at the canal junction.  Consulting google earth satellite images, we see one train wagon on the tracks there.  Turning back the time on google earth, however, shows that that one wagon has not moved since 2005.

 

july 13 2018

July 13 2018

 

june 2 2005

June 2 2005.

 

 

 

To get from the Canal de la Jonction to this bridge is a bit tricky, as there are of course no signs here.  Each time I was here, I would see lost cyclists.  The map below is how you get to the bridge.

 

how to cross the aude river to get to narbonne from the canal du midi

(click to enlarge)

 

The numbers correspond to the photos listed below.

 

Gailhousty Lock

1. Cross over the bridge at the end of the Canal de la Jonction leading towards the Gailhousty Lock building.

 

path behind building

2. Take path behind building.

 

turn here

3. Immediately after building, turn left onto a very small unpaved track.  Do not take the big unpaved road going downhill.

 

small path

4. Go past the mile marker.

 

small path

5. Follow small path to the end, which will be at the railroad track.

 

path joins railroad

6. The path joins the railroad track here.

 

bride over aude river to get to canal du midi

7. Cross railroad bridge.

 

hole in fence

8. At hole in fence turn right and go down concrete wall.

 

go down here

9.  Go down this wall.

 

path to river

10.  Follow path to the river Aude.

 

pass under bridge

11. Pass under bridge and continue straight all the way to Narbonne.  No need to change sides of the canal anymore.

 

 

Below a few more images of the railway bridge crossing the Aude River.

 

bridge over aude river

 

 

 

bridge over aude river canal de la jonction

 

bridge over aude river canal de la robine

 

do not enter signs

 

bridge over aude river canal du midi

 

bridge over aude river canal de la robine

 

cyclists crossing bridge over aude river

 

bridge over aude river canal du midi

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