Ancienne papeterie de Montech réhabilitéeAncienne papeterie de Montech réhabilitée
©Ancienne papeterie de Montech réhabilitée

The Montech water slope

exceptional work in the time of the barges

More information from the Tourist Office by telephone on 05 63 64 16 32.

The Garonne Canal

An ancient dream comes true

Commissioned in 1856, the Garonne side canal project had been on people’s minds since Antiquity. Its purpose was to ensure the connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Today it is reality since with the Canal du Midi, the Canal de Garonne connects Toulouse from the twin bridges to Castets-en-Dorthe in Gironde, where it joins the Garonne.

This canal, offers varied landscapes and cities but also works of art. One of the most emblematic and exceptional is the Montech water slope.

Original achievement designed by the engineer Aubert, it was put into service in 1974, and doubles five locks. Its “twin sister”, the Fonseranes water slope, in Béziers, was commissioned 10 years later.

You said

boat lift ?

In Montech, on the Garonne Canal, the Montech water slope was a boat lift. It replaced a group of 5 successive locks and gained precious navigation time.

Its operation may resemble that of a river inclined plane using a ferry. A machine, called a motor shield, mounted on pneumatic tyres, spanned the channel where the boat was positioned. On either side of the channel, two “michelines” or adapted diesel-electric self-propelled vehicles had only to pull the ship once the ferry was in the water.


Restoring the water slope

a common project

Since 2009, the Montech water slope has not been functioning. Several local institutions, notably Voies Navigables de France, the Tarn-et-Garonne Department, the Occitanie region and the State, wanted to give new life to this place, which is still very popular with curious visitors, despite the fact that the machines have stopped.

This genuine regional project showcases a unique heritage based on river tourism and its industrial treasures along the Canal Latéral à la Garonne.

With the green bike path that runs along the canal, the former paper mill in Montech, the machinery of the water slope and the various hiking routes, all the elements are combined so that this site becomes a space for welcoming the public. Visitors will be able to access the site by bike, by boat from Toulouse, Montauban or Moissac or on foot from the Montech paper mill.


The incredible journey of Altaïr

The future space of the water slope of Montech, plans the installation of a barge which will make it possible to relive the great hours of the batellerie on the canal of Garonne.

This “exhibition barge” bears the sweet name of Altaïr and is over 38 m long and dates from 1955. But before arriving in Montech, Altaïr had an incredible journey. It left Paris in mid-August to begin its second life, and the barge, named after a star, did not follow the Milky Way but rather a number of waterways and rivers.


Its journey to the south began on New Year’s Eve 2020. The Donnez brothers, seasoned bargemen and owners of the barge Altaïr, set off from Frontignan (Hérault) to reach and cross the Etang de Thau. Four days later, a strong mistral wind greeted the entry of the barge on the Canal du Midi.

In order to pass the various structures on the canal, the barge was cut in two. It was at the Libron crossing that the bargemen had to show their ingenuity to get past the two pieces of Altaïr.

On 6 January 2020, the passage of the locks at Fonseranes, the “twin sister” of the Montech water slope, went off smoothly.

It took all the expertise of the bargemen to get through the Malpas tunnel, which is very narrow and leaves little room for manoeuvre.

At a cruising speed of 5 km/h, the adventure continued on the Canal du Midi and the Canal de Garonne. Altaïr arrived in the port of Montech on 15 January 2020. This marks the final phase of work on the rehabilitation of the water slope.

A paper mill, lock houses, a barge

moments of sharing!

The entire complex of the former Montech paper mill will be renovated. The courtyard will be transformed into a landscaped parking area, and a green theatre and an animated quay in front of the reception and the Tourist Office will be created.

Around the machine and its exhibition barge Altaïr, the “Machine Park” combines a lively esplanade, a terrace with a view, children’s games and a bicycle stop with associated services.

Between these two areas, a scenographic walk allows visitors to discover the extraordinary history of river navigation and its inventiveness throughout the world and of course in Montech.

For a total immersion, the visitor can observe the “belly” of the machine. Inside the Altaïr barge, they enter an immersive universe to experience the life and new life of this extraordinary vessel.
To complete the experience, the surrounding lock houses have been rehabilitated. Le Bistrot Constant and Chez Gabriel have become restaurants where you can enjoy tasty local products while admiring the canal. Other projects on these lock houses are underway for the rental of water sports or bicycles.

All these spaces have been designed to offer visitors moments of sharing. Young and old, family or friends will appreciate this new water slope!


the Montech water slope