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The staircase on the lock

Fonsérannes Lock

There are 91 working locks on the Canal du Midi, with a further 13 locks on the 37 km of canal which runs through Narbonne. The locks had to be cut from solid rock, and descended a hillside whose gradient varied. Surprisingly, this amazing piece of engineering was subcontracted out to two illiterate brothers, the Medhailes, and was built by a workforce composed mainly of women. One of the most marvelous engineering accomplishments to date is probably the staircase lock at Fonsérannes near Béziers with its nine gates. It allows boats to be raised more than 20 metres over a distance of 300 metres and remains the 3rd most popular tourist destination in the Languedoc-Rousillon after the Pont du Gard and the town of Carcassonne.

Find out more about UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout France