The Pente d'Eau de Montech: unmissable and unusual

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If there is one unusual site to discover absolutely in Tarn-et-Garonne, it is the Montech water slope. Moreover, it is the 2nd tourist place of the department, in number of visitors per year. Its particularity, its history, and, now, its design make it a flagship place to know. Go on a journey through time and immerse yourself in the unusual world of this special place.


The Water Slope

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What is the Pente d'Eau?

It is an invention, a unique creation in the world. We could even say that it is a remarkable technical feat and, let us note it, 100% French! Its creator, Jean Aubert, had the ingenious idea in 1974 to create it to allow barges and boats over 30 meters to avoid 5 locks and therefore save time: 45 minutes, which is no small feat. ! In short, it is a kind of boat lift!


The Water Slope
The Water Slope

And technically? How it works ?

The approach was to take advantage of a 3% slope to literally push the water on which the boat is floating. For this, it was necessary to provide a thrust force equivalent to 60 tonnes. This is why two railcars were necessary. These moved, each on one side of the banks of the canal and they were connected by a crosspiece which kept them synchronized. This set pushed "the mask", also called the shield, which itself repelled the water on which the boat was located.


The Water Slope

The two railcars running on the bank, each on one side of the canal

The Water Slope

The crossbar allows the synchronization of the railcars

The Water Slope

The mask, kind of arm, pushing the water on which the boat floats

The Water Slope

The railcars, the crossbar, the mask and the barge

From technical innovation to an attractive tourist location

In 2009, the exceptional structure closed to navigation after a long decline in attendance, due to the obsolescence of river navigation. The device is expensive and energy intensive, it no longer meets the expectations and needs of recreational boating, it is then abandoned for several years. The Voies Navigables de France, the department, the Occitanie region and the State nevertheless wish to preserve this remarkable and unique place to underline the prowess and progress symbolized by more than 11,000 passages of boats in 36 years of service.

The good idea With your family visiting the Tarn-et-Garonne? Come and discover Montauban, we have prepared an article with lots of ideas for visiting Montauban with children.


The Water Slope  The Water Slope
The Water Slope

Some pictures of the original place


Also, a real project of redevelopment and enhancement of the industrial, historical and river heritage has been drawn up. The site has undergone an impressive facelift. Everything has been thought out and thought through to energize the place and bring it into a new era: that of transmission, information, interpretation and memory of an outstanding industrial and river heritage. Colors, geometric shapes… The visual identity of the project was inspired by the MEMPHIS movement and incorporates certain codes of inland waterway transport.


The Water Slope
The Water Slope  The Water Slope

Colors and geometric shapes to enhance the Montech water slope

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Visit the Machine and its Barge

It could not be easier ! Access to the Machine and its barge is free. Once there, all you have to do is register on the waiting list. Guided tours are offered every 15 minutes in season. After watching a documentary, the guide will explain the inventiveness, the implementation, the advantages and then the closure of the site. And, then, you can enjoy, with free access, the Altaïr barge, which has been transformed to become an immersive exhibition space. Everything has been designed in this place to attract the eye of the visitor and transport it back several decades, when the Machine was in working order. The place is very fun: for example, you can follow the instructions of the captain and start the engines. Of course, these are fakes, but we believe it: the lights, the noises, the vibrations: you are in total immersion! Only the smell of diesel is missing… fortunately!!! Children will be delighted to be able to touch all the buttons, and to discover how this atypical building works.


The Water Slope  The Water Slope
The Water Slope

How to get to the Pente d'Eau?

All you have to do is follow the green lane of the lateral canal to the Garonne, from the Maison de site (old stationery). This is the opportunity for a pleasant stroll, on foot or by bike, on a well-marked, secure path without any difficulty. Eleven stages punctuate your walk. Indeed, informative panels can be consulted all along the route and will inform you about the operation of a lock, the Canal des Deux Mers, lock keeper life or other subjects related to river life.

The good idea To continue your discovery of Montech and stay in the surroundings of the canal, read our article on a bike ride along the Montech greenway.


The Water Slope
The Water Slope  The Water Slope
The Water Slope

The walk that takes you to the Machine and its Barge already transports you into a unique visual universe


The visit to the Pente d'eau de Montech ends. We hope that this remarkable place will fill your eyes and that you will enjoy the guided tour as well as the various attractions of the Altaïr barge-exhibition.


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Did you like our article? Find others on our Blog "Do it your way". Follow us on the Tarn Aveyron Guide Facebook page and on Instagram @guidedutarnaveyron


Article and photos prepared by Charline Prod'Homme for the Guide du Tarn Aveyron.


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