The strange occurrence of the Étang de Montady


Yesterday, on a walkabout near Colombiers, we were presented with this unusual radial farming landscape – the Etang de Montady.

Etang de Montady 1

You can see it more clearly on Google Earth:

Etang-de-Montady-on-Google-.jpg

But what is it? Answer: an ex pond. The area was pretty much a stagnant swamp that was emptied of water in the 13th century via a series of drainage ditches sloping to a lower central point (hence the triangular sundial format). And where does the plughole go? It drains under Malpas Hill and under what is now the Malpas Tunnel, which we also walked through yesterday. Here is the tunnel, housing a stretch of the Canal du Midi:

Tuff (volcanic ash) tunnel 1

The rock you can see is called Tuff, which appears to be a pretty soft geological mix of volcanic ash and other material, giving a weird hole-mottled surface. Anyway, the water (I think) then drains empties into in the Aude River via the ponds of nearby Poilhes and Capestang, releasing 420 hectares of land for agricultural use – check out those vineyards.

Etang de Montady 2

We saw small grape pickup trucks bringing in cabernet sauvignon grapes near Colombiers. Interesting factoid I learnt yesterday: the grapes are blown off the vine by the agricultural equivalent of a Dyson Airblade tractor that looks something like this. Alors, dinnertime – time to go drink some of the local produce.

Travel details: this journey to Toulouse and beyond was part-sponsored by Bmibaby.com. More posts here.

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