La Prise d'Alzeau
Hélène and Penny heading off to explore the real source of water for the Midi Canal, " La Prise d'Alzeau " in the communes
of Lacombe (Aude) & d'Arfons (Tarn)
The " Prise d'Alzeau ", Literally = ' Taking Alzeau ', but refers to the collection and diversion of the waters there, for use in supplying the needs of the Midi Canal. This
is the highest point but also the furthest point of the infrastructure that is the Midi Canal. In May of 1665 Pierre Paul Riquet obtained authorisation from the " Roi Soleil a"34;, (The
Sun King, Louis XIV (14th), then the King of France, to dig a test water course. The operation lasted five months, terminating in success, the proof that it was possible to bring sufficient
water to the " Seuil de Narouze ", the high plateau that is the highest point on the Midi Canal. Several years ago a British newspaper reported that the Midi Canal was closed
between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, they had missed the point of an announcement issued by the VNF (Voies Navigables de France) that stated that the canal was in fact without
water at the " Seuil de Narouze " situated between the two locks " L'Écluse d'Ocean (Atlantic) " (about one and two hundred meters
to the West) and " L'Écluse Mediteranée (Mediterranean) ' (a lot further away to the East), the result was that the boat hire companies lost a great many
clients that year!
The water course down from the " Prise d'Alzeau " is very gently sloped so that the waters which arrive at the " Seuil de Narouze " are not flowing too quickly, even so there is a huge circular water course at Narouze " Rigole du Canal du Midi ": to further limit the speed of entry of the water into the Midi Canal.
There is a short stretch of tunnel at Alzeau (picture of the entry and exit below) which allows access to a large area of land beside the Guardian's House.
If you have two cars drive to the " Seuil de Narouze ", leave one car there, then pile into the other and drive to the " Prise d'Alzeau ". Parkyour
car. You'll find a good restaurant there where you can stoke yourselves before walking, all downhill, following the water course to your first vehicle. You'll need plenty of energy because there
are a great many kilometres till you rediscover your first car, actually the walk is best done in two or even three stages, but wandering at about the same speed of the water in the stream you follow,
with only the shade of the trees and the bird song to accompany you, you'll experience a great calm.
At the " Seuil de Narouze " the stretch of canal is named " Le Bief de Narouze " or " Les Partage des Eaux " (Bief = pound in English.).
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Revised -- 18 November 2016