A friend forwarded an article to me this week about one of my favorite travel destinations. My heart sank. It seems trivial at first read, but for the first time in my life I realized we experienced a place that will no longer be part of the travel world for the foreseeable future. It was a painfully short read.
The Canal Du Midi in Southern France is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a favorite with boaters around the world. The engineering genius of connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, the spectacular beauty of tree-lined canals, locks, tow-paths and villages will be markedly changed when all 42,000 trees that line the bank are destroyed.
I went back into my photo archives to find pictures that capture the incredibly beauty of the place, but it’s difficult. We have a few photos and memories of piloting our hire boat through the canal, the chaos of “all hands on deck” to man the locks, the emotional moment of watching endless shooting stars stream overhead and the magic of dining topside beneath the plane trees at Carcassonne. Will people still ride bikes along the tow-paths and through the neighboring vineyards? Will they still stop at the tiny village bakeries to shop and pick up the morning croissants? Will local wineries fare well without boaters tying up along the canals and wandering up for an afternoon tasting and a few bottles of the local vintage?
In 50 years or so, it may return to its former glory, but the knowledge that I’ll probably never see it again nor will my children…is heartbreaking.