The Experimental Transporter Vehicle That Was Going To Revolutionise The Canal Du Midi (But Didn't)

In 1984, France unveiled a revolutionary new vehicle, a giant beast designed to push canalboats up a 400m-long water slope, thus avoiding the time-consuming use of traditional canal locks. Did it work? No.
Footage of it working (briefly) in 1990:
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Béziers rugby match -
Fonseranes diagram -
Montech machine -


  1. craig davidson

    craig davidson

    7 uur geleden

    Tim, if you are going to venture further north (in france) why not give my town a visit? Nantes has a few interesting things.....maybe the giant machinescwill tickle ones fancy.

  2. Phil Rabe

    Phil Rabe

    9 uur geleden

    Love the new intro. Though I had become quite fond of the old one. But hey, all's fair in a pandemic, right? Nice mask, I understand the US will begin to wear them...(only half a million reasons why we should have started that in March)

  3. Asha


    Dag geleden

    That is actually pretty neat. It is a pity it didn't work out because, like you said, the concept was pretty sound.

  4. Wolfgang Bachschwell

    Wolfgang Bachschwell

    Dag geleden

    Thanks for the nice video. I was using the locks in both directions with a boat in the early 1990s The monster was looking much better at that time, but nevertheless was out of service. I wished to see it in operation, wondering how the construction would avoid loosing the water during travel. I also have some video shots of the sleeping monster. You helped me get more information now after 30 years. Greetings !

  5. Reisender Raumplaner

    Reisender Raumplaner

    Dag geleden

    This is some of the masterpieces that never became what they could have been.... I like such things....

  6. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson

    Dag geleden

    I’ve travelled the Canal du Midi twice. Once was in 2018 and the site looked very much as in the video, except it was warm and sunny. The other time was in 1983 and we had the experience of travelling down the water slope on what I think was its first day of operation. It was certainly very new. One of our party stood on top of our boat in his Speedos playing the bagpipes to celebrate the event. This was long before the advent of affordable video cameras so there’s no movie evidence, I’m afraid.

    • Sam Wilson

      Sam Wilson

      Dag geleden

      Follow-up: Wikipedia says “Trial operations commenced in May 1984.” but we were definitely there in September 1983. I know because of when our first child was born!

  7. Robert Littleton

    Robert Littleton

    2 dagen geleden

    Loving the Thunderbirds and stingray piano music.

  8. Christian Westling

    Christian Westling

    2 dagen geleden

    Go to the Cote d'Azu; lots of quirky stuff there aswell.

  9. 99wattr89


    2 dagen geleden

    Really appreciate the Thunderbirds & Stingray theming. :)

  10. Jonathon Jubb

    Jonathon Jubb

    3 dagen geleden

    Wish I'd known. I travelled through Bezieres many times this century with time to spare...

  11. Oliver H

    Oliver H

    3 dagen geleden

    Given that there are other ship elevators in France one of which was already built in 1888, this really has the air of an engineer over-indulging...

  12. Yves-Marie Brault

    Yves-Marie Brault

    3 dagen geleden

    I bet part 3 will be about the Krasnoyarsk ship lift

  13. Charmaine Eng

    Charmaine Eng

    3 dagen geleden

    "but because the place was closed, there was no one around to shout at me" that's a good one! I always worry about stuff like that when exploring places! PS also I read the description as "a giant beast designed to push cannabis" and wait.. what? XD

  14. Simon F

    Simon F

    3 dagen geleden

    A day on this part of the Canal du Midi is the best experience. Multiple locks, an aqueduct and great scenery.

  15. nagualdesign


    4 dagen geleden

    I saw the Montech Water Slope on Rick Stein's French Odyssey. Very impressive.

  16. JM 2Durbuy

    JM 2Durbuy

    4 dagen geleden

    Hello, Salü, Mr Ducon.

  17. Reiner Jung

    Reiner Jung

    4 dagen geleden

    Wonderful video on a really a strange solution for a problem which has been solved in other locations very elegantly. Examples: (even the country that invented over-engineering got it right). And yes there is a French example as well And you could build such thing also going diagonally with longer chains.

  18. Martin Robertson

    Martin Robertson

    4 dagen geleden

    If you think this is a Canal Project 200 years after its time, have a look at the Falkirk Wheel. This is a millenium solution to the same problem that joins the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal in Central Scotland.

  19. The British Engineer

    The British Engineer

    4 dagen geleden

    Ah, an Anderson Fan well played Sir...

  20. Max S.

    Max S.

    4 dagen geleden

    Before you get too excited, the other tractor is broken since 2009 because of engine failure.

  21. AR Cherry

    AR Cherry

    4 dagen geleden

    Basically, it is French.

  22. Tim


    4 dagen geleden

    yay !

  23. Camron Morris

    Camron Morris

    5 dagen geleden

    My (non-engineer) suggestions for this invention: 1) Grind a small trough down the center of each concrete "rail", then attach a toothed rack along each trough so that the teeth are slightly below the original height of the trough. Then, replace the 2nd rearmost set of wheels with toothed gears to match the rack in each trough. This way, the only set of wheels that need to be powered are the gear-wheels. This would increase the tractive force potential greatly, provide more precise and predictable movement, and also eliminate the catastrophic potential of a hydraulic leak. (hydraulic leaks can be eliminated by the below suggestion) 2) swap the complicated powertrain with a 3rd rail or caternary system, along with simple electric motors. This would also likely make the power re-generation process much simpler, and also eliminate the hydraulic fluid issues

  24. Kass McGann

    Kass McGann

    5 dagen geleden

    Thanks for continuing to do these videos even though the lockdown in France must be serious limiting your trips. Know that your work is very much appreciated. xoxo

  25. Grzegorz Rozwadowski

    Grzegorz Rozwadowski

    5 dagen geleden

    Check the Elbląg Canal in Poland. Similar idea- lifting the boats up and down instead of using the docks. The only difference is it's still working and it was being constructed a little bit earlier, I believe

  26. MerijnVdg


    5 dagen geleden

    Hey Tim, check out the boat lift in Ronquières, Belgium, it looks similar And also check the boat lift of Strépy-Thieu, also Belgium.

  27. Cake Martyr

    Cake Martyr

    5 dagen geleden

    Love your presentation style, mate. Also very informative. Many thanks for another excellent video.

  28. Quixotic


    5 dagen geleden

    1:45 is he balanced on the edge of the bridge?

  29. Mark Little

    Mark Little

    5 dagen geleden

    And yet in Ontario the Big Chute Marine Railway does the same thing only different. A big carriage sinks into the water. Boats float in, tie up to the carriage. It comes out of the water and the boats are suspended on slings under the carriage that are here where they tie up. Carriage goes up or down the hill beside the rapids connecting two lakes with a drop or climb of 20 m or so. Easy peasy. The French make things so damn complicated

  30. Republiken


    5 dagen geleden

    Hey, a place I've been!

  31. Steve V

    Steve V

    5 dagen geleden

    Lox? Why do I need lox?

  32. fft2020


    5 dagen geleden

    Ahhh. the french... with their bizarre solutions to (sometimes non existent) problems I get reminded of that every time I am in Paris and see those subways with rubber wheels

  33. Rick Kode

    Rick Kode

    5 dagen geleden

    Wow i visited that city during my stay in valras plage yet didn't know this was there.

  34. rjc0234


    5 dagen geleden

    I spent years going to Béziers all summer, and had no idea this was there!

  35. Evelien Meire

    Evelien Meire

    5 dagen geleden

    3:35 You know we come here for the wild special effects.

  36. GaryNumeroUno


    6 dagen geleden

    All they needed was a winch system with a cradle on wheels for the barge to sit in. Could have looked similar to how they used to drag railway wagons up steep slopes in the Pennines. Nice try 'Francaisites'.

  37. Aron Moore

    Aron Moore

    6 dagen geleden

    Oh my god! The Captain Scarlet and Stingray tunes are beyond incredible.

  38. Bert Korteweg

    Bert Korteweg

    6 dagen geleden

    When travel is back to normal, have you considered plan incliné de Ronquiéres? It is a really impressive boat lift for cargo ships up to 81. Something meters long.

  39. R Cajavus

    R Cajavus

    6 dagen geleden

    i guess today it would be a great way to spend a million euros every year of tax payers money - how things change, something that was non-viable 30 years ago, today seems like a drop in a bucket of government waste. I bet it could be financed by just the local tourism office

  40. Alex K

    Alex K

    6 dagen geleden

    This reminds me a little of the Big Chute Marine Railway in Ontario, Canada, which loads boats onto a rail-driven platform to basically go up a big incline.

    • Alex K

      Alex K

      5 dagen geleden

      @Mark Little Exactly.

    • Mark Little

      Mark Little

      5 dagen geleden

      The difference is the Big Chute doesn't take the water up and down like this French contraption . The weight of all that water made this thing doomed

  41. Max Walker

    Max Walker

    6 dagen geleden


  42. BahnSpotter


    6 dagen geleden

    Could you cover a region that I only found out about very recently, Flemish France? It's southeast of Calais and I was fascinated to find out there was a Flemish/Dutch region in France. It would be cool to find out how many people there are actually Flemish and how the French cope with the (I assume) for them hard to pronounce place names :P

  43. Jacob Lorenz

    Jacob Lorenz

    6 dagen geleden

    NEW INTRO!!!!!!! I LOVE IT

  44. Wayne Ha

    Wayne Ha

    6 dagen geleden

    Loving the London Tube upholstery for face mask.

  45. Илья Фомин

    Илья Фомин

    6 dagen geleden

    Thank you for your warm cozy channel

  46. Tahsin Tariq

    Tahsin Tariq

    6 dagen geleden

    Technically, this is just another train video.

  47. jonas1015119


    7 dagen geleden

    Just having 2 locks on either side, then pulling the ship up on a frame with wheels would have been easier. I feel like the moving lock in this one wouldn't be exactly tight, or easy to move.

  48. Stuart Cuthbertson

    Stuart Cuthbertson

    7 dagen geleden

    Thank you for the backing music to the second half of this. Brought back SO MANY MEMORIES

  49. Camelopardis - The Green Giraffe

    Camelopardis - The Green Giraffe

    7 dagen geleden

    I found this video - more or less - enjoyable.

  50. lagrangewei


    7 dagen geleden

    so it a ship lift. there are literally 100 of different lift design... it an interesting topic if someone do a overview of all of them.

  51. jrwhayward


    7 dagen geleden

    1:50 - Ah the Rosie & Jim theme as background music, I see what you did there 😂 Anyone else here remember Rosie and Jim?

  52. Chris Mayer

    Chris Mayer

    7 dagen geleden

    Meanwhile.. Sorry, back then in Prussia there was this: Narrator in German language but with Eng Sub Go to 3:14

  53. jestestuman


    7 dagen geleden

    We have a rail transport system in one of canals in Poland, Mazury. It is working to this day as far as I know and it is reliable and simple :-) cheers

  54. Henning Gu

    Henning Gu

    7 dagen geleden

    The WHAT kinda made this video for me

  55. twothreebravo


    7 dagen geleden

    "I'll put a link in the description in case you want to go and see the whole video." Well yes, yes I do.

  56. Sasquatch 2001

    Sasquatch 2001

    7 dagen geleden

    could have driven 5 tons of boat and water uphill with 6 tons of water going down the hill plus some cables and pulleys...

  57. Lee Miller

    Lee Miller

    7 dagen geleden

    *I HAVE SAILED THROUGH THESE LOCKS* as well as about 300 others across France - one of the best times of my life...

  58. Matt Buck

    Matt Buck

    7 dagen geleden

    I love the music cues!

  59. Hsfjeldnfd Hejfnfdnslcjwk

    Hsfjeldnfd Hejfnfdnslcjwk

    7 dagen geleden

    If you're ever able to come to Franconia, you could do a video on "the water main that can carry ships" aka the Main Danube canal which among other things serves to move excess water from the Danube over the watershed north

  60. Men Guarding Their Own Wallets

    Men Guarding Their Own Wallets

    7 dagen geleden

    Turn that slope into a 'water-slide' attraction, to give something 'fun' back to the local people.

  61. zandmannetje2


    7 dagen geleden

    Ever been to the Ronquières Inclined Slope in Belgium?

  62. Dirk Lac

    Dirk Lac

    7 dagen geleden

    I'm a bit confused by the framing of the issue. These types of boat lifts aren't rare. It may be that it's the only one where a n actual vehicle runs on tracks. Go to Belgium for a UNESCO-classified set from the late nineteenth century, as well as the highest boat lift in the world (up to 2016, when brexit ... just kidding, when the one at the Three Gorges Dam became operational).

  63. Tom Dyer

    Tom Dyer

    7 dagen geleden

    "The system was never reliable, kept failing, and ... the authorities officially gave up and it was abandoned forever." Yep, sounds French to me.

  64. Genial Harry Grout

    Genial Harry Grout

    7 dagen geleden

    Roise & Jim would be thrilled at your choice of background music during your explanation of the jioining of the two canals. The Falkirk wheel works better and is more efficient

  65. tom ellis

    tom ellis

    7 dagen geleden

    Brilliant bit of lateral thinking. Pity it succeed.

  66. Gordon Fawks

    Gordon Fawks

    7 dagen geleden

    "There was no-one around to shout at me." The story of urban exploration.

  67. R Rad

    R Rad

    7 dagen geleden

    You are a bright spot on the otherwise abysmal Internet.

  68. Robbie Henry

    Robbie Henry

    7 dagen geleden

    Tim, I've been following you for quite some time now. I enjoy all these quirky but interesting subjects you have brought to us. However I've failed to pick up on any of the musical clues you have included - not one of them. That's probably because I'm listeniing to your words. Please keep the flow of information coming.

  69. LittleGiant197


    7 dagen geleden

    I'm absolutely loving the hidden thunderbirds theme song!

  70. Korenn


    7 dagen geleden

    Love the thunderbirds references

  71. Dylan Maryk

    Dylan Maryk

    7 dagen geleden

    Thunderbirds on piano! Now I can die happy!

  72. Felix B

    Felix B

    7 dagen geleden

    When I was with my colleagues on a trip there in 86 it was broken as usual. But the old staircase is more fun anyway.

  73. Bo Rydbjerg

    Bo Rydbjerg

    7 dagen geleden

    Have you ever vistited Schiffshebewerk Lüneburg-Scharnebeck. That's also extreme engineering. :D

  74. whoshotdk


    7 dagen geleden

    I've been trying to visit this city for ages but can't seem to make it in a straight line. I shall have to try a different approach.

  75. Jan Doggen

    Jan Doggen

    7 dagen geleden

    New intro, "It went all the way downhill from there", Cliffhanger: great video (again)

  76. Ewan McGregor

    Ewan McGregor

    7 dagen geleden

    It really looks quite fascinating! An alternative to the solution chosen at Falkirk, Scotland. While the canal slope is no longer operating, it’s nice to see that it’s still in place! I wonder if it’s going to get at least some cosmetic restoration?

  77. williamgeorgefraser


    7 dagen geleden

    I worked for many years on the Canal du Midi and the Canal du Rhône à Sète. I've gone through the staircase locks many times. The original "waterslope" was built in the early 70s at Montech north of Toulouse to replace 5 locks and worked fairly well. The Fonserannes slope was built too late as commercial barge traffic ended in the mid 70s. Locks at the time were only 30m long which restricted access. I returned to the Midi in late 1985 by which time the slope was out of use due to a catastrophic hydraulic failure and the chief engineer had apparently committed suicide. It was never meant to be a serious replacement for the 7-locks which only dealt with pleasure traffic and was seemingly built in an effort to sell the idea to China. I am amazed to see that it was put back into use at a later date as it would be nothing but a wasteful drain on limited funding for the canal system, though there was also a nonsensical and heritage-destroying policy of lengthening locks to 40m in the late 80s which destroyed stone bridges and lengthened the oval locks using concrete. When one adds in the felling of trees along its length, not much has been done to preserve the heritage of the canal.

    • williamgeorgefraser


      7 dagen geleden

      @The Tim Traveller I have no proof of the suicide but it was being touted around the canal in the late 80s; As I said, the locks were built to 30m. I worked at Port Cassafières from 76 to 78 and the last commercial barges were for Castelvin. These disappeared in 1977. However, even at that time, chomages on the canal were being organised for commercial traffic. The section between Fonserannes and the Etang de Thau was closed for 2 weeks at Easter. From Fonserannes to Toulouse, the closure was for 2 weeks in August. So much for the leisure industry.

    • The Tim Traveller

      The Tim Traveller

      7 dagen geleden

      Ah interesting! Thanks for the extra info William 👍. Must admit, I wasn't aware of a suicide - the guy was 90 by that point, and because I was unable to find any further information, I assumed he simply died of old age.

  78. NineEyeRon


    7 dagen geleden

    Why didn’t they just slope the water?

  79. Allan Lewin

    Allan Lewin

    7 dagen geleden

    Brilliant as always. Love all the musical Easter eggs :)

  80. Paddyooooooooo


    7 dagen geleden

    Very interesting! But: Did you get a drone for yourself or was someone with you? Cheers

  81. Tu te Kohe

    Tu te Kohe

    7 dagen geleden

    It would have worked much better and more efficiently if the moveable barrier was hauled up and down the slope by wire ropes driven from a fixed winch base. It would eliminate the hydraulics and the traction problems and be much cheaper to run.

  82. Bo Madsen

    Bo Madsen

    7 dagen geleden

    See Ronquieres Belgium

  83. Felix Deckers

    Felix Deckers

    7 dagen geleden

    We have a few of these in Belgium

  84. Studebaker


    7 dagen geleden

    Beziers itself has gone downhill over the past 20 years. Doesn't feel French nowadays.

  85. Cbob64


    7 dagen geleden

    The same (more or less) exists in Montech (North of Toulouse)

  86. ThAt CrAZy BriTiSH LaD

    ThAt CrAZy BriTiSH LaD

    7 dagen geleden

    Did anyone realize that the canal made spain and portugal an island nation😂

  87. 0xFFF1


    7 dagen geleden

    Hi, Tim. There is a similar (but older and still in use) construction in northern Poland - - welcome to come and film, when traveling will be possible again :)

  88. mairon lande

    mairon lande

    7 dagen geleden

    Your videos are intresting bc you make me wanna visit places that i would never expect to visit. 😂😂

  89. John AdventureDriver

    John AdventureDriver

    8 dagen geleden

    Good edit.

  90. agypsychild


    8 dagen geleden

    The cliffhanger is outstanding. I want part 2.

  91. Crow Bar

    Crow Bar

    8 dagen geleden

    If you would like more information about the water slope in Montech, there is a mini "documentary" about it in the show Mysteries of the Abandoned, season 2 episode 7 (around 33 minutes into the episode). Funnily enough it doesn't show it ever working. Surprisingly, there doesn't appear to be any videos of that running either, with the exception of one video that shows it moving just a few meters towards the end of the journey down-slope.

  92. Sophie Sto

    Sophie Sto

    8 dagen geleden

    Petit joueur. Go to Artzviller!

  93. CaptainDuckman


    8 dagen geleden

    It's not civil overengineering, it's French engineering...

  94. Pineapple Skip

    Pineapple Skip

    8 dagen geleden

    Yay! Recognised the Thunderbirds theme before reading the comments. Hoping in part 2 you get there via the cool railway from Beziers that.goes under the Millau viaduct then over the Garabit viaduct 😀

  95. Lapantouflemagic0


    8 dagen geleden

    thanks for showing us that thing. hopefully it gets restored/fixed one day

  96. Donna Attewell

    Donna Attewell

    8 dagen geleden

    Brilliant thankyou!

  97. maxis2k


    8 dagen geleden

    If it's working as intended, then it hasn't been engineered enough.

  98. Jeff Bruce

    Jeff Bruce

    8 dagen geleden

    I want to go to all of these places. But the COVID......

  99. Glenn


    8 dagen geleden


  100. Albert Batfinder

    Albert Batfinder

    8 dagen geleden

    It’s a great idea, if only for the amount of water it saves on each trip. But why not fix the motive force on terra firma and use the same principle as a cable-car? It’s not like the monster has to lumber across the landscape. No need to worry about recovering energy because the French are flush with hydroelectricity and nuclear. Two insane monster vehicles travelling in opposite directions would act as counterweights, improving efficiency, safety and throughput. What lock system wouldn’t benefit from having boats travel up and down at the same time?