We fell for the charm and magic of the Canal du Midi when we moved from the UK to this region 10 years ago, and were fortunate enough to find our current home within walking distance of it. This marvel of seventeenth century engineering, designed by Pierre-Paul Riquet, runs principally from Toulouse to Séte on the Mediterranean coast. It has become one of the Languedoc’s major tourist attractions – it alone accounts for one fifth of French river tourism – and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. In the Aude and Herault, it passes through a number of picturesque villages, as well as town and cities like Carcasonne, Narbonne and Bèziers, all very popular with tourist and house hunters alike, due primarily to its presence.
As agents, we are always being asked what villages we would recommend and our favourite villages are invariably canalside ones between Trébes and Bèziers, like La Redorte, Paraza, Ventenac en Minervois, Le Somail, Mirepeisset, Salléles D’Aude, Argeliers, and Capestang.
To us, the advantages of a canalside property are four-fold – firstly, canalside villages are often livelier, with more amenities, bars and restaurants to cater for tourism on the Canal, especially in the summer; secondly, the views (something that is on the wish list of most buyers) along the Canal are simply stunning, with its tree lined towpath, stone bridges, locks, pretty houses and surrounding countryside; thirdly, it is protected from unsightly change or development, thanks to its World Heritage site status and; fourthly, the Canal does not overflow its banks, so there is no flooding risk!
Unsurprisingly, properties along the banks of the Canal are rare and extremely sought after and therefore more expensive than their central village counterparts. Properties with views of the Canal but perhaps not right on the Canal are just as popular but are more available and tend to be slightly lower in price.
In general, properties whether on the banks of the Canal or in canalside villages will always be popular, and thus can be seen as good investments, with good re-sale values.