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Place of culture and tourism

 

Le Somail

On the Canal du Midi, built in the seventeenth century by Pierre Paul Riquet, Le Somail was a harbour where travelers stopped for “la couchée” (evening meal and overnight stay). For nearly 300 years, the hamlet has, thanks to the canal, an intense activity. Listed by UNESCO and Historical Monuments, the architectural ensemble of the town attracts many visitors. They experience this picturesque harbour with its timeless character as a place where one can live under the Southern sun, upon the endless rhythm of the canal.

Sights

 

Ice-cellar:

Built after 1684, it was used for storing large blocks of ice brought from La Montagne Noire in the winter and kept through the summer. This was made possible, due to the depth in which they were stored, and by means of insulation with the aid of straw. Originally, the ice-cellar was built in another building that no longer exists today and at the time was called the canal shop.

Humpback Bridge:

The bridge called “Bridge Riquet” or “Bridge of Le Somail” is notable for its basket-handle arch, typical for the time at which the inauguration of the Canal du Midi took place.

The chapel:

The chapel was built between 1684 and 1693 and was extended in 1842. It would then have been big enough for the 180 residents of Le Somail, the skippers and their crews docked in the harbour and the residents of the surrounding countryside. Masses were held on arrival and on departure of each post boat. Currently only on Friday a Mass is celebrated.

 

Le Trouve Tout du Livre:

A place that contains no less than 50 000 books! “Le Trouve Tout du Livre ” or “The-find-all-of-the-book” is a very appropriate name … Here, sometimes, lost works are found, excavated by the owner: Anne-Marie Gourgues. Mrs. Gourgues fell in love with the village of Le Somail and in 1980 she left Paris to settle near the Canal du Midi. Recently an old storage for wine barrels, today it serves as a backdrop for a library with over 50 000 books, offered to readers, writers and tourists. Don’t miss visiting this beautiful hamlet located on the Canal du Midi!

 

The floating supermarket “Tamata”

If you sail on the Canal du Midi, the cruise shall be interrupted regularly for some shopping. “The Tamata” is a floating shop, unique on the Canal du Midi and visible from afar. On board of this Dutch barge, moored along the Canal du Midi in the charming village of Le Somail, you can find good chees, fine wines, tapenades, poivronnades, honey, delicious jams, as well as many other regional products. The owner welcomes you every day of the week.

Boat trips on the channel (and more):

A cruise experience on the channel, or simply enjoy the local cuisine and fine wines along the waterfront, with breathtaking views of the boats? That is simply: Le Somail!
Many artists come here for inspiration. Here we are far, very far away, from the Madding Crowd, and that’s a great feeling! Here one takes the time to live and socialize. And at night when the old bridge is lit, the village presents itself under the beautiful moon.

 

Did you know that?

Pierre Paul Riquet, who was originally salt tax collector (a person who received taxes on the salt trade), managed to surround himself with engineers, mathematicians, geographers, surveyors and levelers. Under the reign of Louis XIV in the 17th century, he also convinced about 12,000 people to help with the construction of the Canal du Midi. With 360 km and 328 structures (sluices, tunnels, bridges, …) this was a real tour de force work, which was completed in only 13 years. He himself, however, died before the inauguration of the canal. His life’s work has been recognized since 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage.

As you can see, Le Somail has a lot to offer. In addition, there are so many beautiful things to see in the area, that it is impossible to describe it all here. To give you an idea of what you can do and visit we’d like you to refer to the “Links”.

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Chambres d’hôtes Le Neptune
Allée des Cyprès
11120  LE SOMAIL – GINESTAS
FRANCE
Tél/Fax 00 33-4-68.46.04.74
chambresleneptune@hotmail.com