Itinerary 'Sources of the Canal du Midi'
[autocanalmid]


Route 'Bronnen van het Canal du Midi'
Itinerary 'Sources
of the Canal du Midi'

Number of kilometres: 85 to 100 km
Total visiting time: 5,5 hours
Suitable for: everyone

 In the heart of the Montagne Noire, the area around Saissac offers preserved calm open spaces. The typical villages, on the mountain sides, give a panoramic view over the Pyrenees mountain chain. In this sunny land, water is omnipresent : canalised, tamed in the 17th century by the genius that was Pierre Paul RIQUET.
 
"At the Sources of the Canal du Midi!"

Map - Bronnen van het Canal du Midi
 
click to enlarge
 The water supplies the Canal du Midi by the channel of the mountain from the Alzeau water supply to the large Lampy dam. This exceptional historical treasure is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list!!
 Saissac>> Leaving Carcassonne, follow the RD 6113 towards Toulouse.
2 km after the village of Pezens, turn right towards Moussoulens, then Montolieu Village of Books to arrive at Saissac:
 Saissac:

Typical village of the Montagne Noire, Saissac is built in a semicircle above the confluence of the Aiguebelle and the Vernassonne streams. The streets, one above the other, all face exceptional scenery and give an incomparable view over the Pyrenees mountain chain.

At the southern end of the village, near the church of Romanesque origin, the Château is built on a rocky outcrop.
Saissac
The Castle of Saissac

The Castle of Saissac, which is one of the largest in the region, was rebuilt after the crusade against the Cathars at the end of the 13th, early 14th centuries. From this period the remains of a powerful keep and quadrangular towers remain on the first terrace.
 Blason de Saissac


Château de Saissac
In the 16th century, Renaissance style additions were made. One of the main buildings from that period, has been restored and now shelters the Monetary Treasure Museum of Saissac. This treasure amounted to 2000 deniers (coins) dating from between 1250 and 1270 and is one of the oldest buried royal treasures to be found in the Languedoc. This modern and entertaining exhibition deals with medieval moneys : mining of metals, striking of coins, exchange, and their role in trade and conflicts…

The Wars of Religion also brought about modifications to the buildings when openings were pierced in the walls to cater for cannons. Recent digs have brought to light the outbuildings of the Château with their ovens. At the foot of the fortress the vestiges of the former walled village of Saissac remain. This village was at the centre of a large network of shaded pathways and was protected by the Toulouse gate.
These old stones tell us the story of the changes at Saissace throughout time: Roman occupation, Crusade against the Albigensians, development from the 15th to the 19th centuries with the wool business. Wander through the narrow village streets and admire the corbelled halftimbered houses, the fountains, the medieval gate and the defence towers.
Picarel
>> Leave Saissac on the D4 (indicated Arfons) to go to the Lac de Lampy. Make a stop at the Picarel deer farm. (450 stags, dams and brockets live in the grasslands and forests, see them from very close-up, try some brocket meat or some deer paté or dried deer sausage).
 Lac du Lampy:Lac du Lampy
The Lampy-neuf dam which was completed in 1782 is the second water reserve for the Canal after the Saint Ferréol Lake. Construction of the dam was necessary to supply the Canal de la Robine between Narbonne and Port la Nouvelle. The dam and the lake constituted part of the extension of the ingenious system of the Canal du Midi, one century after it opened.

On the edges of the lake, the Arboretum du Lampy tells the stories of the Fables de la Fontaine in their natural setting, surrounded by centuries-old trees.
Or explore the village of:
 Les CammazesLes Cammazes:
Gateway between the Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. In the High Languedoc Regional Nature Park, the village of Cammazes is situated at 610 metres altitude in an environment where water and greenery are omnipresent . There are hiking tracks and the GR7 goes through here (tour around the lake, holy crosses circuit, walk by the water and through the pine needle forest with its charcoal cauldrons and its 300-year-old beech tree...).

The waters of the Montagne Noire at the crossroads of history : As early as the 17 th century the rigole de la Montagne (Mountain water channel), work of p ierre  p aul Riquet , made it possible to supply water to the Canal du Midi (UNESCO World Heritage listed). The channel passes under the D629 road in a vaulted or pierced tunnel designed and realised by Vauban, ‘’la voûte de Vauban’’ that you can admire from the village. During the 20 th century the Cammazes dam was built at the entrance to the village. It supplies drinking water to 230 towns and villages.
 << Go back to Saissac, go through the village to take the road to Saint Denis (along the way sheep, cattle and horse farms), then in the village take the road to Lacombe to make your way to La Prise d’Alzeau et la Rigole:Arboretum du Lampy
 Prise d’Alzeau
La Prise d’Alzeau et la Rigole:

More than anything else, the Montagne Noire is the Mountain of the Waters. The density of the hydrological network is what made it possible for Pierre Paul Riquet to build the Canal du Midi.
Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and listed as a Historical Monument, it is considered to be one of the most extraordinary civil engineering feats of the modern age. At the time the idea of building a canal to join the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea was not new. However, the idea of a regular water supply by canalising the waters of the Montagne Noire, was a major factor in the decision to build the Canal. The Alzeau water supply dam was built from 1667 onwards and it remains the highest supply point (684m) as well as being the departure point for the water which supplies the canal.

Until the end of the 19th century there were no roads into the forests and only the alley along the Rigole channel enabled road transport. This exceptional site remains today a fun place for a promenade.

Above the Alzeau water supply, the old forge has been converted into a restaurant. It used to manufacture iron balls and chains as well as bullets. Just next to it, the guard’s house is an excellent starting point for a walk.

>> Take the road back to Saint Denis (it is possible to explore the lake and its themed walks “the water paths”). Continue towards Brousses, then arrive at Brousses et Villaret Paper Mill:
 Located at the end of the Dure valley, in the middle of enormous granite blocks, between chestnut tree and scrubby green oaks, this paper mill is the last one in the Languedoc to still function.

Le Moulin à Papier de Brousses et Villaret
Le Moulin de Brousses
In a place with its old machines where you can feel history, the Mill proposes: the discovery of a product which is extraordinary and yet very common: paper.

Experiment with a thousand-year-old craft: hand-made paper and you will have the opportunity to make your own paper!

Without forgetting the enchanting and romantic surrounds of this place!

>>Go back to Carcassonne on the D118 via Villegailhenc.
 Tasting Wines: A.O.P. Cabardès

Red Wine
= Red Wine

White Wine
= White Wine

Rosé
= Rosé
• Villegailhenc - Vignobles Alliance Caveau - Phone 04.68.77.10.79
• Villegailhenc - Domaine de Cazaban - Organic wines - Phone 04.68.72.11.63 / 06.58.06.22.74
Produits du terroirLocal Produce:
A.O.C. Cabardès
• Caudebronde - Maison de la Montagne Noire, Boutique produits du terroir (juillet/août)
- Phone 06.09.69.46.05
• Saissac - Le Cabas d’Oc - Viande et charcuteries de cerf Picarel - Phone 04.68.24.44.08

 
Activities:
 
 
1st category fishing - at the lakes of Laprade, le Lampy and Saint Denis. Trout fishing at the Saint Pierre lake (snack bar)
2nd category fishing - Lac des Cammazes

Privately-owned lakes at Saissac Lac de Picarel + snack bar (drinks, picnic) - Phone 04.68.24.40.98
Pêche
 
Boat rides on the Canal du Midi
Phone 06.80.47.54.33
Promenade en bateau
 
Brousses et Villaret - Artistic workshops at Brousses Paper Mill - Phone 04.68.26.67.43
Le Moulin de Brousses
 
Cooking classes and photography tours at the Domaine de la Bonde with Nathalie Grandin
- Cuxac-Cabardès
- Phone 04.68.26.57.16/ 06.30.26.81.63
Domaine de la Bonde
 
Fontiers Cabardès - Musical events end of week, year-round at the Club 620 - Phone 04.68.26.53.48
Club 620
 
Les Cammazes - Poterie Alibeu (stoneware, ceramics) Phone 05.63.74.15.21
Les Cammazes - Le Salon de Vauban Cultural and artistic workshops, boutique, reading and exhibition area - Phone 05.63.74.26.34
Poterie Alibeu
 
Saissac - Picarel deer farm - Phone 04.68.24.44.08
Picarel
 
St Denis - Montagne Noire mountain bike hire
Phone 06.03.48.87.64 / 04.68.47.61.82
VTT en Montagne Noire
 
Worth seeing nearby:
 
 
“Les Chemins de l’eau ”(Water pathways) walking paths and the Laprade-Basse interpretation trail.
Chemins de randonnées “Les Chemins de l’eau
 
• “Eaux apprivoisées ” (Tamed waters) village circuits
Circuits villages des “eaux apprivoisées”
 
Les Cammazes, Vauban vaulted tunnel, Cammazes, Laprade-basse and la Galaube dams
Les Cammazes
 
Montolieu, Village of Books
Montolieu
 
Aragon, typical Cabardès village.
Aragon
 
Abbaye de Villelongue at Saint Martin le Vieil
Abbaye de Villelongue
 
Lakes of Saint Ferréol (swimming), Montagnes (swimming), Pradelles (swimming)
Lac de Saint-Ferréol
 
Museum and Garden of the Canal du Midi at St Ferréol
Musée et Jardin du Canal du Midi
 
Cubserviès waterfall
Cascade de Cubserviès
 Calendar - Festivals:  
July
« Farmers' Festival in Saissac (1st Sunday in July) »
«
Cultural events at the Château de Saissac »
«
Fireworks at the château de Saissac (13 July) »
«
" Jazz à Fontiers " (concerts & classes) (second fortnight) »

July/August
«
Fête des moulins - Brousses paper mill »
«
Art Exhibitions market square in Saissac »

August (1 st fortnight)

«
"Guitares à travers chants" » Festival in Montagne Noire (+ guitar classes)

August 14

«
" La Nuit des Papyvores " » Brousses paper mill (jazz, French songs...) Phone 04.68.26.67.43

September
«
" Indian Summer market" » at Cammazes (producers and artisans)

October

« " De Ferme en Ferme en Montagne Noire " » (1 st Sunday) Phone - 04.68.78.00.55

Autumn
«
Le brame des Cerfs à Picarel (Saissac) »

 Restaurants
Confit de Canard

Alzonne - Chez Martine et Claude ** - Tel. 04.68.76.90.47
Aragon - Hotel Restaurant La Bergerie *** - Tel. 04.68.26.10.65
Arzens - Restaurant L'Arzenais - Tel. 04.68.76.27.93
Bram - Castel Nautique * - Tel. 04.68.76.73.34
Bram - Ferme Auberge du Pigne * - Tel. 04.68.76.10.25
Bram - Le Clos saint Loup * - Tel. 04.68.76.11.91
Bram - Le petit Gourmand * - Tel. 04.68.79.09.82
Bram - Pizza Pedro * - Tel. 04.68.78.27.19
Bram - Pizza Rapido * - Tel. 04.68.76.16.67
Bram - Saveurs d'Asie * - Tel. 04.68.78.29.47
Brousses-et-Villaret - La table du Rebombier ** - Tel. 04.68.26.47.72
Cuxac-Cabardès - La Table d'Orélise * - Tel. 04.11.20.01.06
Fontiers-Cabardès - Club 620 * - Tel. 04.68 26 53 48
Lacombe - À La Prise d'Alzeau ** - Tel. 04.68.25.46.94
Lastours - Restaurant "Le Puits du Trésor" *** - Tel. 04.68.77.50.24
Lastours - Auberge du Diable au Thym * - Tel. 04.68.77.50.24
Montolieu - Restaurant tea salon Les Anges au plafond * - Tel. 04.68.24.97.19
Montolieu - Casquette et Chapeau * - Tel. 04.68.24.76.72
Montolieu - Bar Lounge Apostrophe * - Tel. 04.68.24.80.18
Moussoulens - Le Romarain * - Tel. 04.68.24.92.13
Pezens - Restaurant l'Ambrosia *** - Tel. 04.68.24.92.53
Saint-Martin-le-Vieil - La Table Fermière ** - Tel. 04.68.79.34.58
Saissac - Bar Restaurant La Montagne Noire ** - Tel. 04.68.24.46.36
Saissac - Restaurant Lafage
Villesèquelande - La Halte Romaine * - Tel. 04.68.78.09.96

Bon voyage!!
 
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