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If you look up Montady on Google Maps, in the department of Hérault, in southern France, you will see a strange agricultural field. Long lines of irrigation ditches radiate out from a central point, like spokes of a bicycle, with triangular farmlands occupying the narrow strips of land between the ditches. This area was previously a pond, or rather, a brackish marsh with stagnant water that was the source of many outbreaks of diseases. So in the 13th century a decision was made to drain the swamp and make best use of the land by cultivation.

Étang de Montady, or “the pond of Montady”, was drained in 1270 by digging radial ditches from a single center point out to the extremities. The center being lower in elevation compared to the rim, the water flowed towards the center and were drained out through an underground culvert and through the Malpas hill and under the Malpas Tunnel of the Canal du Midi. The 420 hectares of land recovered were planted with many vineyards that goes into the production of fine French wine.

etang-de-montady-6

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