The Robine is a river with a long history of navigation. The Robine is a natural route for joining the Aube river to the Mediterranean Sea. The region's indigenous inhabitants are known to have used it more than two thousand years ago. The occupying Romans, who were skilled engineers, thought of modifying the natural layout and flow of the river to make navigation easier. In fact, it can be said that people living in this region have always taken advantage of the river, and this continued until the 17th century. In the mid-1660s, as the construction of the Midi canal began, surveyors and engineers considered using and canalising rivers near the Aude to control its water flow. At the same time, the government of Narbonne was highly disappointed to see the city excluded from the delineation of the Midi canal. They were asking for a connection to enjoy the future commercial benefits this waterway would bring. Work began in 1686, using the old riverbed of the Robine.
The marquis de Vauban, more famous for his fortifications than for his numerous works on waterways, was behind this construction. If Narbonne was finally connected to the Aude river at Moussan through this canal, it would take another century for a proper connection with the canal du Midi to be made. Indeed, once reaching the Aude, goods heading towards Narbonne or leaving the city needed to be transported on the ground to reach the Midi canal. In 1775, the archbishop of Narbonne, Monseigneur Dillon, was particularly annoyed that the necessary funds to build the junction canal had not been found in 100 years. This is why he campaigned for the local Languedoc parliament to fund the project. He succeeded and the canal was complete five years later. The Robine then provided the Midi canal with a third mouth to the Sea.
Today, the Robine canal is a beautiful gateway route to make a detour as one navigates on the Midi canal. It is the occasion to visit the wonderful city of Narbonne, known for its Roman history, medieval and Renaissance palace of the archbishops, vineyards, and one of the 9 habited bridges in France: the Merchant's Bridge. Like the Midi canal, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a testimony to the beauty of this small canalized river.
- Andreossy, Antoine-François (1804), Histoire du Canal du Midi ou Canal de Languedoc, vol. I., Paris, Grapelet [Online].
- Degos, Jean-Guy, Prat, Christian (2010), « Le Canal du Midi au 17e siècle » in Journées d’Histoire de la Comptabilité et du Mangement, France [Online]
- Marconis, Robert (1981), « Les canaux du Midi. Outil économique ou monument du patrimoine régional » in Revue géographique des Pyrénées et du Sud-Ouest, n°52, pp. 7-40.
- (s.d.), « Le Canal de jonction et la Robine de Narbonne » in Le Canal du Midi [Online].