Communauté de Communes La Domitienne, Colombiers, France
Malpas Tunnel Colombiers Reviews
Great engineering work Jun 08, 2012
The Malpas Tunnel is located near Colombiers, midway between Béziers and Narbonne. It´s a 5 minutes walk from La Maison du Malpas, the local tourist information centre. It is not possible to cycle through the tunnel, but there is a walkway for pedestrians on the northern side.
Malpas Tunnel is an impressive engineering work by Pierre-Paul Riquet, the designer of the Canal du Midi. The Malpas tunnel was Europe's first navigable canal tunnel dug through a hill, using techniques that were far in advance of their time. The tunnel is 165 m long, 7 m high and 8 m wide, and removed the necessity for an extra lock.
Riquet started the excavation in 1679 against the advice of the King´s local attendant (a few metres of digging in hard rock revealed a very brittle sandstone subject to slippage). Riquet acted quickly and completed the tunnelling in 8 days, just before the formal order stopping the works arrived.
The Maplas tunnel represents a junction of three modes of transport and a major drainage system. There is a road on top; below that is the canal; below that again is the railway tunnel dug in 1855 and finally underneath everything is the drain that carries away the water from Montady Lake. The whole junction is quite an exceptional work of art.
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