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France's Canal du Midi was once a bustling commercial artery crowded with lock keepers, boatmen and barges weighted down by wine and wheat. These days, 350 years after it was carved out of the soil of southwestern France, its banks and waters have become a haven for locals, artists and prosperous professionals.Constructed at the height of the reign of Louis XIV and brainchild of engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet, the 240-kilometer waterway links the city of Toulouse with the Mediterranean.The waterway also continues northwest of Toulouse as the Canal de Garonne, leading to the Atlantic, with both sections known as the Canal of Two Seas.She and her partner share a 29-meter long "peniche" or barge in Ramonville, a small port just outside Toulouse. Most of the canal's residents live on their boats and arrived in waves starting in the 1990s.
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