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The Canal

Pierre-Paul Riquet

a man 's genius

A man of considerable intelligence and undeniable business sense,a passionate engineer , a genius man in the vanguard of social issues, impetuous and audacious Pierre Paul Riquet realized the dream he had to link the ocean to the sea.

Detail of Riquet's statue in Toulouse

His life, his roots

Pierre Paul Riquet was born in Béziers, between 1604 and 1609. His birth certificate was never found. But it is most likely on june 29 1604. on the days of Saint Paul and Saint Pierre.

Gherardo Arrighetti, his ancestor from Florence, was banished in 1268 for having joined the party of the Gibelins. He feared reprisals from Charles of Anjou. He fled from Italy and took refuge in Provence.

Pierre-Paul Riquet died on October 1st 1680, in Toulouse before his great work was completed.

His career

As a young man he preferred speaking langue d'Oc to French. Only the sciences and mathematics interested him. At the age of 19, he married Catherine de Milhau, daughter of a middle class man from Beziers. with whom he had five children, two boys, Jean-Mathias and Pierre-Paul, and three girls, Catherine, Marthe and Anne. In 1630 he worked as an inspector for salt taxes in Languedoc and then in 1660 he was farmer general of Languedoc- Roussillon and Cerdagne. He was also a purveyor to the King 's armies.

His situation in 1662

Bonrepos' house

In 1662, as Baron de Bonrepos, he owned several apartments and properties in the community of Revel, near Verfeil, as well as 60 hectares of oak forest, 150 hectares of woods and land, and 4 small farms, not forgetting a residence in Toulouse at the Puits-Clos quarter, where he was Royal Judge and Seigneur of Bonrepos.

Riquet's personality

This man had many exceptional qualities: endowed with a fantastic imagination, bold , enthusiastic as well as being acutely observant.He hads great confidence in his own judgement.

He had a pronounced business sense as well as having a strong determination in the way he tackled work. His spontaneity and openness were assets throughout his life.

He was first of all a business man, respectful of the law. His wisdom and his kindness helped to oppose his detractors.

He never sought to share responsibilities but always took on his engagements alone.

The discovery

The watershed in the Seuil de Naurouze
Copyright : Gerard Roche

Pierre Paul Riquet lives in Revel next to the watershed.
Between 1648 et 1660, he journeys through and over the Montagne Noire seeking water to supply the canal's navigation.

Assisted in his research by the fontain designer, Pierre Campmas, they check on the water flow of the Fontaine La Grave, located 48.70 metres above the Garonne river near Monferrand, at Naurouze Sill.

From the miniature dam they had built one day, a stone fell. To his satisfaction Pierre Paul Riquet sees that the water flows on both sides : to the Méditerranean and to the Atlantic océan.

Essential Resolutions

As early as january 1665 the channel test is a work site financed and managed by Pierre Paul Riquet.

Beginning october 1666 the construction of the Toulouse-Trèbes section, including the pools and the water feeding system, were on the way : the first venture had started.

June 30th, 1668, the Chevalier de Clerville estimated the cost for the second section Trèbes-etang de Thau and the third construction venture to the Port of Sete.

In the following months Pierre Paul Riquet was appointed project manager by adjudication.

Fourteen years later, the inauguration of the Royal Languedoc canal was held without Pierre Paul Riquet, who had died few months before its completion.

Le profil actuel du Canal du Midi